Shadow Run fits into the category of Romantic Sci Fi rather than Sci Fi with a touch of romance. Depending on your preferences, that distinction will become important since the focus really is on the romance rather than the sci fi aspects. But Shadow Run is a very enjoyable read that never feels insipid or overly melodramatic: a trap into which so many heavy romance sci fi fall.
Story: Nev is undercover – trying to recruit Qole, a freighter captain with a secret, to help stabilize his family’s empire. But things will soon spiral out of control as his past soon endangers both. Getting her trust will be the least of their problems, however, as Qole becomes a hot property in the galaxy – and wanted dead rather than alive.
As noted, this is very much a romance. The cliches are there: main female character is a ‘speshul snowflake’, gets kidnapped and needs to be rescued multiple times, thinks about the guy all the time instead of her mission/reality/danger, love interest guy is a ‘prince’/in touch with his feelings/thinks about how beautiful the girl is all the time, lots of characters sniffing each other and thinking how nice they smell, one or another character walking in and finding the other underdressed and thinking how sexy they are, characters with supposed tough pasts but very well adjusted, black and white evil and good characters, a ball where our heroine gets to wear a fancy dress and dance with the ‘prince’, etc. etc. I like romance in my books as much as the next person but I also prefer to avoid so many of the cliches. Especially that our supposedly ‘tough’ female character is continually rescued/saved by the guy. But there are also some frustrating sci fi/adventure cliches as well: the ship’s crew being full of people with perfect abilities to push plot points: ultra talented hacker, super-navigator, super skilled pilot, mysterious person with amazing connections, etc. etc. So those are the downsides that keep this from being a 5-star read.
Ultimately, what is most rewarding about Shadow Run is that these are characters that you want to root for as they go through their trials. It lacks the grittiness of a Firefly since the character alignments are blatantly obvious and twists are well telegraphed. But we don’t have the endless amounts of plasma weapon descriptions and space technical terms to slog through either, which is a relief. So while this is not as strong as a Tanja Huff or Jack Campbell book, I’d say it is definitely on par with a Linnea Sinclair. There’s a nice mix of conflict and adventure vs the romance.
Shadow Run is a fairly quick read that doesn’t bog down anywhere and with good pacing. It has a definite arc in this first book in the series and ends on a satisfying note while also leaving enough intrigue to look forward to the next book in the series. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.