When Jamie Flipkens signed on as a pilot and engineer for a small medical research company, she never expected to end up on a mercenary ship full of hulking soldiers who want to make her their latest conquest. The captain has been good to her--it doesn't hurt that he's her boss's new beau--but she's on the verge of quitting when a strange man shows up at her shuttle door.
Sergei Zharkov claims to be an old friend of the captain's. He neglects to mention that he's also an assassin, a dangerous man who even the hardened mercenaries avoid. Jamie should avoid him, too, but she's drawn to the charm that sometimes escapes from beneath his grim facade. She finds herself wanting to give him a reason to smile--and maybe a little more than that.
The problem? There's a fresh bounty on the captain's head, and it's possible Sergei is there to collect it.
Note this is Book 3 of the series (MERCENARY INSTINCT was book 1, TRIAL AND TEMPTATION is Book 2, but I skipped it because assassin) so there's quite a bit of spoilerage involved. However if you're in it for the couple--Jamie and Sergei that is--then you don't have much to worry about as Sergei is new to this book and Jamie, while a separate character in the other two books, doesn't come into her own personality until this one.
Straight off I want to address the fact that Liondrake took Jamie's story into area I was less comfortable with. Jamie is quick to point out that the Captain has sheltered them and tolerated them because of his relationship with Ankari (and nominally the money of his investment). However that was at odds with the fact that Jamie felt very awkward around the other crew members. Their behavior towards her bordered on sexual harassment and it seemed odd to me that the Captain wouldn't say something since he did take a more protector role towards her.
Otherwise I enjoyed this a lot though the assassin angle wasn't quite what I expected (we can blame fantasy for that). Sergei comes on rather strong, but he's careful towards Jamie. He definitely wants her, tells her as much, but he wants Jamie on her terms, not his. He's willing to wait, or step aside, if that's what is better for her.
Jamie's a mixed up mess. She wants to leave the ship (because of discomfort) but she's enjoying learning from the ship's engineer and acknowledges she's learning more from him then from a classroom. She wants to go to school, but mainly its because she feels a fake and fraud since she's almost entirely self-taught from books. She wants a relationship with Sergei...actually no she's firm on this one.
This one felt more insular then INSTINCT, with a lot more time spent on the two of them running around solo, then as part of the group. I'm okay with that--I'm in these books first for the romance, second for the other stuff. And their romance was a joy to watch develop. Sergei is a man of few words, but Jamie learns to pick up on the actions to understand. I loved how Sergei wanted to protect Jamie, but saw that she was hella more resourceful then him at times and let her protect him. I loved how Jamie listened and really understood what making the choice to pursue him might mean. He shared a lot of personal details with her (in a somewhat comical moment as he silently urged himself to STOP but just kept talking), but she gave it all serious consideration.
I will say not knowing the second book sort of impeded my understanding of something Jamie apparently did. However it didn't impede the romance angle of this book so that's all I really cared about in the end.