Mercenary Instinct ( The Mandrake Company #1)
By Ruby Lionsdrake
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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
Ankari and her friends start a business which could put some money in their pockets. In order for that to happen though the need to be down on this planet that has a bunch of space pirates and other shady people collecting not your most glamours of archaeological samples. While down there a bounty has been put on Ankari’s and her two business colleagues heads. In comes Captain Viktor Mandrake. He gets news of some criminals on a planet he’s near and comes down and gets a hold of Ankari and her crew. He tries to keep them in his jail but Ankari keeps scheming and out witting his crew and escaping. Viktor starts to admire Ankari and believing the she and the other girls are not criminals. When he doesn’t rush them back for the bounty a bunch of madness ensues. His crew is placed in danger. They end up on a jungle riddled planet with crazy man eating beasts and other bounty hunters come to claim Ankari.
I liked the characters they were all well written and interesting. Ankari was funny, smart, loyal and she could handle her own and she did save herself and others in a few situations. Viktor was also loyal and he knew Ankari could hold her own and if need be possibly save herself. He respected her and her abilities. The instant lust thing is something I’m not into reading about but these two had some funny flirtatious conversations that was fun to read. There was some great action parts and some parts I actually laughed out loud at. The balance between the romance and the action was well written. As much as it kills me to say this ( especially since I’m a huge fan of this author under her other name) some parts were slow but I think they helped move the story a long or they provided background information.
I enjoyed reading this book. I think those who like sci/fi, space opera romance adventure type stuff might like it too. Its not overheated in the sex scene area but there are a few scenes and there is the kick butt fighting scenes for those who prefer that.
A fun space opera adventure romance. I enjoyed the characters and the story. I’ll be reading this series hoping to read more about the other characters like Mandrakes pilot and the girls that were on Ankari’s crew Lauren ( the scientist) and Jamie ( the engineer).