Someone pitched this to me as "hard SF meets romance." I was intrigued, but ultimately rather disappointed. The hard SF bits are rather clunkily described (few authors can keep me interested in lengthy descriptions of their technology, particularly if it's an imagined visual/telepathic version of cyberspace...), and the rest of the plot is pretty standard. The only really intriguing concept here is the idea of empaths as soldiers-- the Skolians' most elite soldiers are also usually the most powerful empaths. That's... pretty wacky. Unfortunately, Asaro doesn't do quite enough on the social/cultural end of things (although she handwaves the scientific end of things away with drugs to keep the empaths from becoming overloaded with others' feelings) to convince me. Too bad, I find the concepts of empathy and telepathy intriguing, and few authors do it well.
In terms of hard SF meets romance with some incidental psychic stuff, Scott Westerfeld
does a far better job in the Risen Empire books.