Mercenary Instinct is my M for the A to Z on Saturday, my book review day. I’m away at my niece’s wedding today, so I’d be grateful for any ‘shares’ on social media!
I picked Mercenary Instinct for M since it was high on my TBR list. I forgot I already had the trilogy from the author’s newsletter, and bought this first in the series again!
Ruby Lionsdrake is making a name for herself in steamy scifi romance. It’s not a genre that most scifi fans crave, but it’s growing. The author has also made another name for herself in scifi/fantasy/steampunk books; you have many reviews of those on this blog! It’s the second of three steamy books I’ve read these last three months. If you don’t mind a bit of pulse-racing action in the bedroom scenes, you’ll probably enjoy it.
Mercenary Instinct (The Mandrake Company #1)
Skulking around in the ruins on a planet swarming with treasure hunters, slavers, and bounty hunters isn’t good for one’s health. But Ankari Markovich needs a few archaeological samples for her latest business venture, a venture that might prove lucrative enough to move her family off the impoverished planet where she grew up. Unfortunately, she has no sooner collected her samples than she’s captured by a band of brawny mercenaries. [Captain Viktor Mandrake] might be handsome, but he’s intent on turning her over to some finance lord who has, for reasons unknown, put a bounty on her head, a ridiculously large one at that. If she can’t figure out a way to escape before she’s delivered to the lord’s home world, she could be forced into a life of indentured servitude—or worse. […]
Mercenary Instinct is a full-length, stand-alone novel of 90,000 words. It is part of the “Mandrake Company” series of science fiction romance stories and is recommended for readers who enjoy space-based adventure (such as Firefly) and steamy love stories (in the style of Linnea Sinclair).
(from Goodreads, abridged)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from ‘scifi romance’ . In many ways I was looking to judge how the developing steaminess in my Viridian System series compares.
What I found was a full-on, exciting and well-plotted science fiction action adventure, complete with space ships going wrong, crash landings, aliens with particularly nasty eating habits, and baddies with a shady past. Oh, of course the protagonists also have shady pasts, and that’s good too. Well, maybe the heroine and her chums aren’t that shady, maybe they are innocent. Then again, is anyone really innocent if they are out digging up fossilised alien poo in search of biotechnical wizardry to make their fortunes?
Those sentences tick a lot of boxes for me. I suspect I’d better not read too much more of this author’s (and her alter ego’s) science fiction until I finish my own series. Fossilised poo (coprolite) also appears in my book, but I had no idea it could become lucrative!
The book is well-written, gripping, full of rounded characters, especially those who are really one-dimensional. The planetary vistas are spectacular, the future technology is sexy and believable, and the sex is too. What makes this more interesting is that we have a dual-point narration: both Ankari Markovich and Viktor Mandrake deliver chapters, which was quite a switch. I think Ankari gets the lion’s share though.
Ruby Lionsdrake does a mean line in heroes, and this is no exception. I’m really glad I have books 2 and 3 in the series already tucked in my Kindle! But they’ll have to wait a while, for my own projects to develop past the point of undue influence.