I can't tell from your moniker or avatar whether you're male or female. Do you have any problem with romance in your space opera?
I really enjoy reading Linnea Sinclair's books. She has a few standalones (Finders Keepers, Games of Command, The Down Home Zombie Blues) and a series that starts with Gabriel's Ghost.
Sinclair straddles a hard line. Romance fans tend to think there's too much science fiction. SF fans often wonder why she bothers with the kissie stuff?!
I'd suggest Finders Keepers for a first book. I think it's got a good mix of both.
Just so you know, Bantam reissued these last year with romancy covers. Ick. Thank God we read ebooks, right? And Down Home Zombie Blues was fun, but it was set on earth (even though it has outer space visitors).