Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my god, I loved this book! It’s been so long since I’ve read a wonderfully satisfying romantic sci-fi read. Ankari was the best “prisoner” ever, and I loved Captain Mandrake. I love Anne McCaffrey and Nalini Singh, and this reminds me exactly of those kinds of amazing, satisfying reads. I think the last book I enjoyed this much was Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor. Ten stars!
Okay, now that I’ve finished squeeing, let’s get down to business.
Ankari is trying to get a futuristic start-up off the ground that will refine alien super-poop into health supplements. (Everyone thinks she’s so crazy it just might work, and it’s actually based on current research into gut bacteria and IBS/Crohn’s disorders, so as a reader I think it just might work too.) She’s out collecting specimens when a sexy mercenary captain takes her and her crew hostage. Someone has put a bounty on their heads! She legitimately can’t imagine who would do that or why. The sexy captain is a bit more jaded and thinks she could probably come up with something. After she accurately shoots him in a gunfight, pickpockets several items from right under his nose, breaks out of prison, knocks out his guards, and essentially makes herself a (resourceful) nuisance, he doesn’t know whether to tie her up or kiss her. And she feels the same way about him.
He admires her spirit and resourcefulness, and so despite the fact that she is his prisoner, their relationship always seems more than equal. I really loved that about the story. And he’s not a complete jerk at all, which a less skilled author would totally do. I hate over-alpha men. The captain pretty much lets her do as she pleases or shakes his head as soon as he finds out about it. This comes from a place of respect.
Although it frustrates her that she can’t convince him of her innocence at first, Ankari has no problem taking her wild child image and running with it. The more she seduces him (and pickpockets his stuff) the more she finds that she likes the seducing. He’s surprisingly honorable and she thinks they could get along well if only they were on the same side rather than on opposite sides.
And then they have the opportunity to do that…
There is plenty of excellent action. The sex is hot and sexy, and there’s a nice build-up that takes into account their initial power imbalance (prisoner/guard), growing respect, and finally uncontrollable attraction.
I also loved Ankari’s decorating sense! Her pink ship is just wonderful.
The only thing I didn’t like has nothing to do with this book, actually. Ankari’s two business partners are both sweet, sexually deprived women who clearly need their own romances, but the next several books do not feature them. I’m kind of disappointed and that has prevented me from immediately diving into the sequel. I still have faith that I’m going to love it, though, so I have already downloaded it onto my eReader and it’s just a matter of time and opportunity before I dive in. I really hope it’s just as good!