Mercenary Instinct (Mandrake Company #1)

Whoever wanted to kiss me on a sofa.

Mercenary Instinct
Ruby Lionsdrake
Mandrake Company, book one
ebook, 152 pages
Published October 10th 2014 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN 9781310599910
Free Read at Amazon.com

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.

I was recommended book two. Book one was free. So, here we begin:

First off, this book was *way* too good to be free. Go, grab it, love it! ...Because I, for one, couldn't get enough.

Ankari Markovich and her three woman team (including a work obsessed scientist and a self taught pilot) are busy collecting fossilized alien feces for medical research when they are suddenly taken hostage by a team of mercenaries playing bounty hunters. The price on their head is not only incredibly high, but also insane in its placement. Who the hell would put a bounty on an entrepreneur digging up alien shit?

Viktor Mandrake, once called "Willow", is an ex-Crimson Ops soldier, who went out on his own with a strict code he manages to carry into the life of a mercenary. He's not deluded. Only sometimes does he manage to find a job that sides with his own beliefs, but so far he's managed to never betray an innocent. Something he begins to truly suspect his newest prisoner happens to be. As far as the charges against her anyway.

Ankari grew up with her family struggling to survive after her birthworld was destroyed. A pickpocket when necessary, and damn if it was ever necessary, it is now, Ankari's quick hand manages to help her escape her captors more than once. Her never shutting mouth, however, lands her in even more trouble. Thankfully, Viktor is only endeared by her feisty, survival attitude and emotionally forms a connection with her. His own home world was destroyed, too, by the same villains that took hers.

This... is one realistic love affair unfolding in a very true SciFi setting. Moon hunting, prehistoric dinosaur-like creatures, and a man-eating plant collection are just a few of the classic facets pulled together to bring two amazingly well written characters together. And if you're not into lust fueled, tripping-all-over-themselves-in-love protagonists but still crave an all consuming fall into a future of love, then this one's for you!

No pledge of undying affection. No curve ball marriage proposal. And yet, I'm still over the moon for this story.

I can't say it enough. It's free. It's REALLY good. Get it here while you can!

5 out of 5 stars!

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