Outcast Mine by Jamie Craig
The romance in this novel almost seems secondary to the politics and plot, but this doesn't weaken the story or the romance. The relationship of the two lead males grows slowly over time, starting as a forced bond and evolving as they face dangers together and begin to come to terms with how they feel and how it relates to the prison they are in both literally and emotionally. A strong world creation, good characters and interesting plot all work to make this an enjoyable novel.
Characters. Strong characters with a good dynamic. Jasak and Aleron are very different: To Jasak, honor (and the rights all sentient creatures have) is the most important thing, while Aleron just wants to survive and has gone through life with that mindset. Together, they help one another learn there is more beyond what they've known. Their give and take relationship worked well, and they constantly didn't know where they stood with each other, which was fitting since one was a prisoner and the other his guard. Also amused that the token female was very useful!
Writing. The writing was excellent, from the descriptions of their conditions and appearances to the dialogue, I could easily imagine being there. The creativity in the residents of the world and the politics helped form a world that was completely believable.
Plot. Good, strong plot that takes some hills and valleys to reach the final mountain. Because of the length it takes to build up to the climax, some may find that the story drags for them, but persistence will pay off.
PoV. Another case of the author(s) suddenly deciding to sneak into the minds of others. This is a pet peeve of mine, I know, and while it was handled well here, it still annoyed me a tad. For the majority of the novel we skip between Aleron and Jasak, but at some point we begin seeing another inmate's, another guard's, and the medic's view. It was handled well, and it did explain a good portion of those character's motivations, but I think the book could have been written without those jumps.
Not a weakness, but some may find ethical/moral fault in the ending.