RogerBW's Blog

Chaos Reigning, Jessie Mihalik 08 July 2022

2020 SF/romance, last of a trilogy. Catarina von Hasenberg, the youngest of the heirs to one of the three Great Houses, has a public persona as a partying idiot… and some of the time even she believes it. But she'll still go undercover at a rival House's summer retreat to try to get proof relating to the kidnapping of her brother.

…and just as in book 2, there's a chap whose responsibility is her safety, and they will be thrown together, but she won't want to reveal her secret superpower…

It's a bit of a rerun at times. And I really don't see why, if you were a head of government doing illegal supersoldier research, you'd use your infant daughter as a test subject (even an expendable youngest infant daughter) rather than someone whom you could quietly disappear with nobody asking where they'd gone. But hey ho, she has to have a Big Secret, so that's the setup.

On the other hand, the relationships have definitely got better through the series: Cat is first of all reluctant to take the help for a mission she'd planned to do pretty much solo, because she's used to working alone and she's insecure about her family perceiving her useless-fop image as the reality. She and Alex make peace about that, and then she doesn't want to indulge in the hots she's got for him because it would complicate the mission, which is fair enough… and they talk about it, my goodness, rather than just assuming "his eyebrow was 0.3mm too low he must hate me woe is me", they actually have sensible adult conversations! Hurrah!

(OK, so this does mean that their early sex scenes have to get "comically" interrupted, but you know, there's stuff happening.)

There's an outside plot as well: that kidnapping was only one step in a much larger plot, and Cat ends up being instrumental in resolving what could have been a long and nasty civil war. And it all makes sense for who she is; she doesn't grow new superpowers, she sorts this stuff out by talking with people and building a consensus and only then using the minimum necessary force (she has very little force to apply, after all). I don't expect a lot of sophistication in my SF romances but there's actual sense talked here, in terms of both how things got this way and how they'll be changed in the future. It's no utopia, but it is a happy ending.

As before one could easily enter the series here; the characters from the previous books are occasionally about in the background, but this is Cat's and Alex's story, and it's not hard to pick up what's going on.

If you are in the mood for an SF romance series, you could do a whole lot worse than this.

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