If you don't mind getting Romance into your Science Fiction/Space Opera or SF into your Romance in a literary Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, this might be your cup of tea. This is light-hearted, almost humorous -- don't think Scalzi, Adams, Holt, Cline or Rob Reid. Think Evanovich in Space. It's an odd mix of Space Opera, Romance and humor -- mostly pulled off well. In the end, it wasn't my thing, but it was fairly well executed.
Will and Vita are planetary royalty, who've been ordered to go on a mission together by a higher governing power. Vita's a queen on a technologically-oriented planet, and like many before her, she's a clone. It's about time for her to clone herself to get her successor trained and ready in time. But there's a problem, the cloning device is on the blink and no one can repair it. So, they're going to have to take care of the succession the old-fashioned way. Enter Will -- a Captain Kirk type. Handsome, charming, a gal in every space port, and a heckuva warrior. If anyone can get the might-as-well-be-asexual Vita pregnant, it's him. There's a Dave and Maddy vibe going throughout the early chapters, but you know she's going to succumb to his charms (if only because she has to -- at least at first). This would be the Romance bit.
Meanwhile, they're being pursued by Will's half-brother and other assorted nefarious types to interfere with their mission to check in on their colony, Earth, as well as to get up to other mischief. The colony is in pretty rough shape, what with the citizens acting the way we do -- but they've got trick or two up their sleeve to get us back on track (which may or may not be entirely successful). This would be the Science Fiction/Space Opera bit.
Now, given everything that they're able to do later in the book I'm not sure that I buy the whole "we can't repair the cloning device" thing -- I bet later on that we find out that The Powers That Be orchestrated the sabotage. But...that's neither here nor there.
Thelen gets into some pretty impressive world-building (even if the science is . . . not that science-y), complete with multiple governing bodies and hierarchies, etc. Although, while I tracked with all the assorted layers of orders and bloodlines and whatnot that they talked about involving those on the mission (and related to it), I found it hard to understand -- much less care -- about the problems back home in their home galaxy. Hopefully, in future installments Thelen gets the reader to care -- or to not worry about it and focus on the characters we do know.
Some of the characters here are pretty well-developed and engaging -- though a few were little more than names and ranks, but that worked out okay given the story. The love story didn't work for me -- at least not in the early stages. I had no problem with it i the last half, though, and that's when the book started working its charm on me (those two are pretty likely linked). The story was okay -- but it felt like a lot of it was just to set up the rest of the series, not to tell a story in this book -- but there was enough completed here to feel okay about it.
I think this is the kind of thing a lot of people would enjoy -- on the whole, sadly, I'm not really one of them -- but it's fairly well written. I did end up liking it eventually -- not a whole lot, but enough that I could see the merits and see why others would probably get into the series. I'm glad I pushed through my early disinterest to get to some pretty good stuff in the latter half. If Evanovich in Space sounds like your cup of tea, give this series a look.
<i><b>Disclaimer:</b> I was graciously provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for my thoughts, even if it took me 3 months longer than I'd hoped to get to them.</i>