I recently discovered Sharon Shinn and her wonderful science fiction and fantasy novels. The best part is that I've discovered her late in the day so she has an extensive back list of works to explore! Her first novel, The Shape Changer's Wife is an incredible book that brought her instant fame. It's being made into a film but they are still looking for funding, so visit the film's website to see more details and how to donate toward this effort.
Shinn is a Firefly fan, which doesn't surprise me, as her characters strike me as similar to Firefly's--the type of characters you want to take home to dinner!
Just a warning, though, don't begin any Sharon Shinn novel before work or you may end up calling in sick!