This isn’t your average space opera. It does have interesting characters and space ships but also has fox-hunting with horses. The first half of the book is slow paced and introduces the characters and the setting. After about the half-way point, the pace really quickens and more point-of view characters are introduced. Oh, and the main character Heris Serrano is in her forties and has brown skin, despite the young, white woman in the cover.

Heris Serrano is a former military ship captain. She has recently retired in disgrace and wants a new, civilian command as soon as possible so that she can get away from her previous life. Lady Cecilia, who is an old, single, rich woman, hires her to captain her luxury yacht, the Sweet Delight. Soon, Heris finds out that Lady Cecilia’s previous captain hasn’t just been negligent about discipline aboard the ship but also involved in criminal activity. When the ship’s life support system starts to misbehave, it’s clear that the previous captain hadn’t even bothered to keep the ship in good shape. Heris is forced to head towards the closest space station and so disappoint her new employer. The crew or the passengers aren’t delighted about the emergency drills, either. However, during the voyage Heris and Lady Cecilia become friends and Lady Cecilia invites her captain to participate in the fox-hunting on horse back which is a passion and a pastime for some of the more eccentric nobility.

During her younger days, Lady Cecilia was a highly respected and successful event rider. She’s still passionate about breeding horses and riding in fox hunts. Much to her disgust, her sister’s son Ronnie has been forced upon her. Ronnie was involved in a scandal in the court and his parents thought that it was best if he disappeared from the court for a year. So, they decided to send him to the fox-hunting planet and talked Lady Cecilia into taking him there. Lady Cecilia doesn’t expect much from her new captain either, but to her surprise she finds out that she likes and even respects Captain Serrano. So, when things start to go wrong Serrano is the only one she can turn to.

Ronnie is a young man who has been spoiled his entire life by his parents and life as a rich noble. He hates horses and riding, and is convinced that he’s going to be bored out of his skull with his withered aunt. So, he brings with him his equally spoiled and bored friends. Captain Serrano’s arrogant air and especially her middle-of-the-night-drills, which have been of course designed especially to annoy him, infuriate him. He decides to strike back at her through influencing the ship’s systems to go haywire. A bit of harmless fun during a boring flight…

Most of the characters in the book are delightful but I would have wanted to see more of the world. Now we see only tantalizing bits and pieces which aren’t really different from other space opera settings. The one exception is aliens. There was no mention of aliens at all. There was maybe a bit too much attention to details such as riding instructions and ship repair.