I'm totally hooked on the whole series, so I may be slightly biased, but I have to say that Deadly Games, by Lindsay Buroker, is another winner.
In case you're not familiar with it, the Emperor's Edge series is about Amaranthe, who starts out being an gifted, by-the-book police woman in a chauvinistic, militaristic, steam-punk society and ends up leading a band of outlaw mercenary in an attempt to redeem her reputation and help the empire. The secondary characters are strong, and each book splits the POV between Amaranthe and one of her motley crew.
Each book (so far) is a self-contained adventure, although there are several arcs that span across the books. There's romantic tension, but it's on a slow boil. I really recommend it. It's the only series that reminds me of the Vorkosigan Saga, which is one of the greatest series e-v-a-r.
The premise to this particular book is that they're about to go on vacation when Amaranthe connects with a athlete participating in the (Olympic-ish) games who is looking for her missing sister. One thing leads to another and the vacation is cancelled, they're tracking down missing athletes, and it turns out that it may be connected to a threat to the empire! (You're shocked, I'm sure.)
In this story, we're get to expereince Basilard's POV. I like being his head better than Books, and in this one, he goes through a really strong arc. The action is great, the interactions are believable, I love the characters, and
*SPOILER - highlight to read it Amaranthe gets a HOT kiss. I'm not saying who it's with, but his name begins with an S and rhymes with Picarius. SQUEE!
Warning to Lindsay Buroker:
I fully expect Amaranthe and Sicarius to have their happily ever after TOGETHER at or before the end of the series. I understand that you might be contemplating some perfectly laudable literary ending that involves a bitter sweet twist or A&S trying to make it work and then realizing their lives and aims are too different and that they'd be happier with other people so something. But. So help me, if you do that, then I will hunt you down and beat you with a wet spaghetti noodle.
Other books in the Emperor's Series:
- Encrypted: Prequel that takes place about 20 years before; I really recommended it, but you can miss it without missing anything in the main story line. Sicarius is a minor character in this one.
- Emperor's Edge
- Dark Currents
- Deadly Games
- New one coming out someday (no projected release date or title that I've seen)...