I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lady Bianca von Hasenberg still emotionally and physically deals with the trauma her first marriage caused. Now a widow, she works to help other girls and women through her network of spies and her technological skills. When her brother Ferdinand and the von Hasenberg heir disappears, she won't be patted on the head and told to stay home by her father or their Director of Security, Ian Bishop.
Ian shut down Bianca's flirting when he was her bodyguard and even now as the Director of Security, he still doesn't think he is worthy of her, but he can't stop his protective feelings for her. Bianca manages to get information he needs and she won't take no for an answer when it comes to rescuing her brother. Ian needs to rescue the heir, keep his own secrets, and never let Bianca know how deep his feelings really go.
Softly, he asked, “Why do you have to fight me on everything?”
Second in the Consortium Rebellion series, Aurora Blazing stars Bianca von Hasenberg, the sister of the heroine from the first book, Polaris Rising. The first book gave us glimpses of Bianca as she helped her sister and a few glimpses at the tension between Bianca and the Director of Security Ian Bishop. The author makes good on the tension and slow burn she hinted at in the first. Polaris Rising was a debut and one of the complaints I had was about the story needing a lot of fat trimmed, Aurora Blazing had none of those problems, the author did a great job shoring up the story and fulfilling on the promise I found in the first.
The Consortium series, so far, follows two main characters threads, one has readers following one of the three major ruling houses, the von Hasenbergs. Aurora Blazing is told solely from Bianca von Hasenbergs' point of view. The second is about soldiers that were part of the Genesis Project (soldiers who were experimented on to create “super” soldiers), Ian Bishop is hinted at being tied into that. These two threads are swirled into plot threads that involve the three ruling houses conspiring, maneuvering, and possibly going to war with each other for power and resources. This creates a fun, absorbing, and intriguing space opera/scifi ride.
“I promise I won’t ever use any of your secrets against you,” I said quietly.
As I mentioned, the romance is a slow burn, as in you won't see the (soft) snap in the fraying rope between these two until around 50%; the space opera aspect controls more of the attention in this series with the romance being more of a very important secondary character. I loved the dynamic and tension between Bianca and Ian, I could feel the emotion bubbling underneath. For the most part, I enjoyed how the author didn't blatantly spell out Ian's emotions but towards the end of the story, when we're supposed to get the big payoff, I felt like things were rushed. The ending sex scenes also felt out of place, they felt graphic and jarring placed at the end because the preceding 90% of story had a different tone between the couple.
His gaze was scorching, his eyes hot with desire. “We are not done,” he said, his voice a low command.
Without Ian's point of view and more of a look into his background, I found Bianca to be the stronger of the two characters. Learning about her first marriage and how her health issues causes her to lie to her family, thus isolating her even further, was heartbreaking. It was immensely satisfying to watch her not gain emotional and mental strength from what was done to her but instead use the strength that she already had but had been a bit too young to mature to. The times she refused to back down because she knew she had the skills and know-how to get the information quicker than Ian made me cheer for her even harder.
I was engrossed in the first half of this story and while I was locked into the space opera plots, the romance was too rushed for a satisfying payoff. I would love if Bianca and Ian got a second book as I think their story definitely supports it and the series would benefit from it. I don't know if it is due to the first person pov structure but there were at times I felt like I was only getting half the story on some things, scenes felt left out, and more background was needed. Overall, though, I found this an amazing continuation of the series and the author has dangled threads (the leak in the von Hasenberg house, the war between the three houses, and Ferdinand and his romance with the daughter of an enemy house) that I'm fully on board and can't wait for the next in the series.