While this book was a fun space adventure, it was also very light and quick to read. There is minimal world-building, and all the information a reader needs to know is pretty much told through dialogue within the first hundred pages. While setting and plot-wise, Amid Stars and Darkness doesn’t really come out as a surprise, I really enjoyed watching the heroine’s reactions and antics. She’s really down-to-earth, likable, and easy to relate to. Couple that with a sweet dose of a healthy romance and you get a very light scifi read that’s perfect for mindless reading for the slow days.
The blurb doesn’t really tell much about the setting, but it seems like a very modern-time with some added science fiction elements. We start the story out with the main character Delaney heading to a big club with her friend to enjoy the night. When she heads out, however, she gets captured and taken to the alien planet of Xenith. Once there, she realizes that her appearance somehow changed to look like the princess, Olena, of the alien species known as the Vakar. To keep the peace between the Vakar and Kints – another alien species – as well as people on Earth, however, Delaney needs to maintain her ruse until they find the actual princess, who ran away to earth.
“The Kints don’t just want this plant; they want Earth as well, and my people and this treaty are the only things keeping them from enslaving yours.”
The world-building is quite vague and continues to stay so throughout the book. Bits of information are fed through character dialogue as both the reader and Delaney begin to learn about the different alien species. The only information the author gives about their discovery is the fact that they had been hiding on earth and suddenly revealed themselves. There was never a war because the aliens’ technology was too advanced. This lack of world-building made it quite easy for the characters to maneuver through the political plot elements, however, as they try to scope out the terrorist group that want to start another war.
The Vakar and Kints have always been fighting, but a betrothal between the Vakar princess, Olena, and Kint prince, Trystan, has put a temporary stop to it. It’s up to Delaney to keep up the ruse as a princess in order to ensure the peace, all while trying to avoid assassination attempts from the terrorist group. This calls for lots of fun action and adventure that keeps the plot running. Other than that, the reasoning was very ambiguous, such as the Kints’ adamancy to take over Earth and promote violence. If perhaps the author may have added more political or economic reasons to give more substance to this particular plot, I may have enjoyed it more.
“‘We’re both slaves to our king’s will,’ he stated. ‘For now, the Rex dictates my life, and the Basileus dictates yours. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, or you for that matter.’”
The characters themselves are very easy to like, none more so than the heroine Delaney. She’s very down-to-earth and relatable. Her reactions to what came at her were very realistic and sometimes hilarious. She’s definitely a character that you can’t not like. While there is a bit of conflict between her and Ruckus, Olena’s bodyguard, at the beginning of the book, they soon develop feelings that would create a slight forbidden love aspect in the story. Their banter was super cute, as well as their interactions such as when Delaney was taught to fight, but I never really got invested in it. The development of the romance seemed a bit shallow, and I guess despite their interactions, I couldn’t really see the chemistry. Ruckus as a character falls into the “loyal bodyguard” category who is as brave, handsome, and charming as you would expect someone of his character to be. Ultimately, he was altogether quite unmemorable and made for a bland romance in this reader’s case.
“‘I don’t care that I don’t know what you really look like, don’t you get that? It’s not the package that I’m interested in here. It’s you.’”
There is a wildcard character thrown in: Trystan, Olena’s betrothed. He’s one of the more dimensional characters who is kept in the dark about Delaney’s deception but very perceptive at the differences between the girls. Olena is repeatedly described as rude and incompetent, while Delaney’s natural kindness and optimism provides a stark contrast to. Suffice it to say, Delaney didn’t do a great job acting like the princess, but her vibrant personality was nonetheless very enjoyable to read about. Everyone else had rather bland characters that I couldn’t get myself to like, no matter how much I tried.
Just as a side note: I think it’s time to stop using “almond eyes” as a description for characters. Olena is referred to a couple of times as having “almond eyes,” which I find lazy as a writer and ignorant of the stigma of POC that surrounds that description. This was rather frustrating to read throughout the book.
With superficial world-building, a predictable plot with kickass action, and a sweet romance that I never really got invested in, Amid Stars and Darkness was a fun, light adventure in space. However, “light” is all it really was, and I found myself taking quick breaks while reading just because it never really offered anything other than cute antics with the very likable and down-to-earth heroine and the situation she gets caught up in. Nonetheless, I would recommend this to readers ready for a quick adventure without too much thinking. Other interspacial (hah see what I did there) romance fans with aliens like the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout and Alienated by Melissa Landers will also enjoy this one. Definitely pick this one up for a more mindless read with a quick adventure and romance.