Manx Prize by Laura Montgomery
Montgomery takes all the strengths of The Sky Suspended—world-building, flesh-and-blood characterizations, intricate plot, great line-by-line writing, and an all-too-believable view of future bureaucracy—and puts them to work in a second novel every bit as good as her first. In the process, we also get a tighter, more-focused story as well as a romance between two actual adults who actually behave like adults (in the bad ways as well as the good). Highly recommended.
In the second half of the twenty-first century, when Charlotte Fisher was just thirteen, orbital debris took its first large-scale human casualties from an orbiting tourist habitat. Haunted by visions of destruction and her father’s anguish, as a young engineer Charlotte follows in his footsteps and determines to win a prize offered by a consortium of satellite and orbitat operators for the first successful de-orbiting of space junk. Her employer backs these efforts until the reentry of a piece of debris kills two people, and she and her team are spun off to shield the parent company from liability. With limited resources, a finite budget and the unwanted gift of a lawyer who, regardless of his appeal, she doesn’t need, she must face a competitor who cheats, a collusive regulator, and the temptations dangled by the strange and alluring friends of a powerful seastead.