Capture the Sun
Grade : C

Jessie Mihalik’s Starlight’s Shadow series started off outstanding, went on to be very good, and, unfortunately, takes a nose dive at the end.

Lexi Bowen is an elite thief (excuse me, “recovery specialist”.) She’s enormously good at her job. How do you know? Boy, does she tell us. A lot.

But what are we shown? Well, Lexi starts the book reminiscing about the time she lost a gig to Nilo Shoren, a Valoff (hot humanoid alien) and Oh, How She Hates Him. So the author establishes Lexi’s character with a story about a time she wasn’t good enough. Then the job she’s on (on Nilo’s world, Valovia) while reminiscing goes pear-shaped, but fortunately Nilo saves her. Now she’s 0-2. In order to get back to her people’s space, she wants to break into a shipping facility where she sent herself supplies, untraceably. They’ve been traced. Nilo saves her.

This 0-3 start fails to dent anybody’s confidence in Lexi – not Lexi’s, not Nilo’s, and not the author’s. Consequently, everybody agrees Lexi should take the lead role in their new plan: to rendezvous with her old crew on an impregnable prison planet. This is even dumber when you know that this is all taking place within Nilo’s society, making him the one with all the contacts and insider knowledge, and also that Nilo is both psychic and a teleporter. How on WHATEVER PLANET YOU’RE ON do you all collectively delude yourself that anybody other than Nilo should be taking the lead here?

(The book’s backstory forges new frontiers in dumbness when you apply this knowledge retroactively. Why do Nilo, Lexi, and the author all characterize the foundational Enemies to Lovers moment, the stolen contract, as, well, stolen? Let’s pretend Lexi is as awesome at her job in this reality as Imaginary Lexi is in Lexi’s own head. All Nilo should have had to do is walk up to the client and say “I can teleport” and any sane person would fire Lexi on the spot.)

The most accurate word I can apply to action sequences, whether they be of the military or sexy variety, is ‘laborious’. Lexi and Nilo’s motivations for sex are clichéd; just once, I’d like to read a romance where somebody actually does get someone ‘out of their system’ by having sex with them – and they mostly check their personalities at the bedroom door, leaving the scenes feeling mechanical. In sequences about thieving, breaking-in, and the like, things are over-narrated. New technologies spring up out of nowhere to create inexplicable challenges and to make sure Valoff powers are neutralized. There is a Big Bad villainess with incredible Valoff powers who sees NOTHING SUSPICIOUS about fake-drunk Lexi “getting lost” and turning up at her door, and whom Lexi later trips up by luring her into monologuing. Thank goodness the villainess is even worse at her job than Lexi.

Weirdly, my favorite thing about this book was seeing the previous protagonists. This is something I NEVER say, but the author does a great job keeping those characters engaging, plot-relevant, and mission-focused. I liked watching the crew figure out some ethical dilemmas at the end around consequences for an enemy.In particular, Kee, the tech specialist heroine of book two, Eclipse the Moon, stays true to her character’s support characterization – a programmer and communicator, not a gunslinger. I’d say she should have a chat with Lexi about staying in her lane, but Lexi doesn’t even have a lane to stay in.

I’m sorry to say it, but Capture the Sun is one of those Trilogy Book Threes which is really only worth reading for closure. Objectively, it’s an average book, hence the C grade. But if you came into it with hopes formed by the excellence of the first two titles in this series, it’s going to feel like it hits a lot lower.

Grade: C

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : June 21, 2023

Publication Date: 06/2023

Recent Comments …

  1. This author (Judith Ivory) used to appear frequently in “best of” lists for historical romance; and it seems that this…

Caroline Russomanno

I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.

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