Turned out it's a mishmash of sci-fi, fantasy, and maybe a little steampunk thrown in on the side. Tikaya is a linguist who helped her island people win a war against another race that sees their advanced science as magic by decoding their messages and giving them to their enemies. After the war, she goes into hiding until she gets kidnapped by their defeated enemy, for the purpose of decoding some artifact that has fallen into their hands. What unfolds is a very action-driven adventure, on sea, over mountains, through ice, with a little romance thrown in for good measure. I started out unsure about the author's style, but Wednesday, when I was a third of the way through its 100k, I hit a point where I just couldn't put it down and basically shirked other responsibilities most of the day to finish the damn thing.
I got on Amazon to find out if there's a sequel and discovered it actually has a sequel and a half, but more importantly, those two (and a half) books are actually prequels to a longer series that starts eighteen years ahead of this one.
Which means I now have ten books to read. Oops.
Anyway, if you like plot-driven sci-fi/fantasy with a geeky heroine and non-stop action, give it a try. The romance isn't that heavy-handed and it's highly compulsive reading.