The premise is Cara Bishop is a fighter pilot who survived an INDEPENDENCE DAY-like invasion of the Earth where a large portion of the planet was devastated. Cara successfully destroyed the enemy mothership with a risky maneuver and became a planetary hero. This, despite the fact she actually had been sent on a suicide mission and wasn't supposed to come back.
Cara gets selected to serve as first mate on the reverse-engineered flagship of Earth's first starship, serving under Steve Hunter the world's first and only Spartan supersoldier. Cara and Steve have immediate and electric chemistry, which is problematic since they're boss and subordinate. Oh and about to depart on a three year mission to seek out and pester new lifeforms. We also have an eclectic supporting cast, including a Tony Stark-esque billionaire and Cara's Admiral father.
The book is divided into two sections with the first being Cara struggling with her decision whether or not to go into space (of course she is) as well as whether she can resist falling in love with her yummy captain (probably not). The second part of the story involves First Contact with a race of peaceful clones who need the crew's help in avoiding an interstellar incident. Honestly, I liked the first half a bit more than the second but I didn't dislike either.
If I had to describe the book's tone, I'd probably say this is closer to THE ORVILLE versus pure Star Trek. However, there's homages galore to lots of science fiction franchises I enjoy. The characters are a bit on the silly side and have even less military discipline than the U.S.S Enterprise but no one ever cared about that anywhere but BABYLON FIVE. It also reminds me a bit of HALO and MASS EFFECT, which is not a bad thing.
Really, the heart of the book is the characters' giddy glee to be traveling through space and encountering the oddball alien races which they're running into. It's not remotely meant to be threatening or terrifying and reminds me a bit of the Will Smith Men in Black movies. The aliens are not malevolent so much as a little strange and this is firmly on the space opera side of things in terms of sci-fi. I'm not a big fan of the love affair between the two and wish they'd just find a way around it but that's a small complaint about an otherwise entertaining work.
This is a fun and lighthearted book which should be read fully with the intention of amusing rather than thrilling. Our heroes are more like Stephanie Plum in space rather than hardened explorers and that's not a bad thing. It was a great palette cleanser after a bunch of darker and edgier fiction I'd been reading. Those looking for the next epic drama should probably look elsewhere but that's not what this book is trying to be.