Friday, January 2, 2015

ebook Review: Mercenary Instinct

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. The captain 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.

Captain Viktor Mandrake doesn’t usually take on piddling bounty hunting gigs, but when his intelligence officer informs him of a criminal on a nearby planet, he decides it wouldn’t hurt to take a shuttle down to collect the woman. But Ankari Markovich is trouble from the start, nearly eluding his elite forces, then fighting and tricking his people left and right. He finds himself admiring her spirit, but according to her warrant, she’s a criminal. The safest thing is to keep her in the brig and ignore her until she can be handed off to the man who wants her.

But the situation grows more complicated when other bounty hunters show up, wanting to claim Ankari for themselves. Thanks to this woman, Viktor’s ship is in danger, his crew members are going missing, and he’s fighting enemies he never asked for in a jungle in the middle of a hurricane. He’s either going to strangle Ankari… or fall in love. Either scenario could get him killed.

Author Carol Van Natta recommended this book to me while requesting a review of her new release (Overload Flux, also scifi-romance) as book to check into as I enjoyed At Star's End so much.  I was already contemplating her book (which I have read and will shortly be posting a review for), as I really do have a fondness for scifi romance especially non-erotica (I like that too, but not always), but then offering me more of what I want?

Seals the deal.

Moving on, this is more of a 4.5 for me then a full on fiver...but because it kept me reading past what was a healthy bed time for me it really deserved that half of star to bump it up.  There's just so very much I enjoyed about this book.

Let's start with Ankari who does not let up once during this entire book.  Sure she's attracted to Viktor and sure he could probably be as genuine as he seemed but why let that ruin a chance to escape and not be killed?  For Ankari the possibility that he was a sneak was more then enough reason to run away.  I don't blame her.  I've had it up to my eyes in women who, soon as the hero kisses them is like "omg he's so trust worthy!".  No. No and no again. Its not outside the possibility that the guy kissing you is SHOCK attracted to you AND still wants to let unspeakably bad things happen to you.

Next let's move onto the fact that Viktor, while probably more gobsmacked and gullible then Ankari, very clearly would have turned her over to the Finance Lord that had the bounty out on her and her crew with little to no real compunction.  Only reason he didn't? The Finance Lord got a bit impatient.  If he hadn't sent other Bounty Hunters after Ankari, I'm fairly certain that Viktor wouldn't have dug deeper into everything nor taken it personally and thus made it personal.  While yes this is a romance so certain ideals are upheld, Viktor was determined to do only one thing: protect his crew.  By the halfway point the Finance Lord had made himself a bigger threat to his crew then Ankari's machinations.

Let's not forget how much fun the book had with its own genre's conventions.  Its easy to pin Firefly on this--idealistic Captain with a murky past, perky young engineer, overly intelligent scientist, oversexed right hand man with lewd comments, ragtag crew loyal to their Captain because of what they lost--but this also plays with romance conventions easily. It doesn't dwell terribly long on the "whys" of the universe, there's commentary and information strewn throughout, but Lionsdrake relies on the reader having an idea of the future already.  Also the secondary characters don't completely overcome the tried and true roles they inhabit. 

Thankfully the next few volumes flesh them out--we get more of Thatcher (who...I don't think ever actually is "seen" only "heard" from), Jamie (Ankari's pilot/sometime engineer) and Thomlin (intelligence guy who saves Viktor's butt a couple times).  And here's hoping we get to see more of Ankari keeping everybody on their toes (and checking their pockets).