Book Review: Starbound by Tess Barnett

Elijah has spent his whole life on a small space colony and wants to explore the galaxy, so he stows away on a visiting ship and makes a deal with the captain: he'll help around the ship and sleep with the captain in exchange for staying. But the longer he stays, the stronger his feelings get, and he doesn't know if the captain feels the same.

Book Cover - Starbound by Tess Barnett
Title: Starbound
Pages: 280
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads // Amazon // Publisher


I have a rocky relationship with BDSM books and sex-heavy books, but I really liked this one!

The BDSM was done well, with discussions beforehand, consent, safe words, checking in, etc. (There were incidents when things went too far or wrong by accident, but even those were done well, the characters recognizing and owning up to their mistakes and apologizing.) It was also written in a way that was really sexy and made me understand how much Elijah was enjoying it.

The romance was really sweet. There was a lot of sex, but the author did a great job of also showing the non-sex parts of their relationship as it was building. Little moments when they had free time on a stop. Having each others’ backs when things went wrong. Talking. There was also some angst, which I love, since it was supposed to only be sex, but then Elijah caught The Feelings, and there were also some other little bumps in the road. It sort of surprised me that I could be so happy and excited for two characters to kiss after I’d already read about them doing far more x-rated things. And the love confessions were pretty great. I don’t know how to really explain without spoiling, but just the perfect scenarios/timing to give me some great feels. *SPOILER* Elijah’s drunken confession was very much, “Aww, Elijah, I want to hug you,” feels, whereas Leslie’s, “I came to help, I’m here risking my life because I love you,” confession in the middle of a firefight was, “Ahhhhhh, yes!” feels. Different feels, both very fun as a reader. *END SPOILER*

I liked reading about these characters. They were flawed people who sometimes made mistakes or did shitty things, but I still cared about them. Elijah just wanted to get off his colony and explore the world and experience new things and all the galaxy had to offer. He was a 20-year-old farm boy, naive in some ways, but very much able to hold his own and stand up for himself and adapt. Leslie was not exactly a good person (I disagreed with Elijah’s opinion that he used the appropriate amount of violence in a certain situation), but he was charming and confident. The rest of the crew were jerks at the start, but they too weren’t all bad or all good and started warming up to Elijah in their own ways.

The focus was the romance, but there was also a bit of space adventure and sneaking and action and heroism.

My one real complaint is the constant use of “the blond,” “the older man,” “the younger man,” and most of all, “the boy.” According to a search of the book, that last one was used 231 times. And the book seemed to be mostly from Elijah’s POV (3rd person, but we were in his head), so that made it feel like he was thinking of himself as “the boy” and his lover as “the blonde,” which was weird. I just wanted their names to be used. But everything else was good enough for me to just deal with it.

Overall, I really enjoyed these characters, their sexy BDSM relationship, and their sweet, slightly angsty romance—in space!

*Rating: 4 Stars // Read Date: 2022 // Format: Ebook via TTS*


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  1. Mary Kirkland

    I don’t like when characters refer to each other or themselves as the boy, the whatever. I find it weird at times. But to see it so much, over and over would irritate me too.