Trial and Temptation (The Mandrake Company #2)

Why was he always holding something when they were close like this?

Trial & Temptation
Ruby Lionsdrake
Mandrake Company, book two
ebook, 250 pages
Published October 17th 2014 by Ruby Lionsdrake

After ten years of flying freighter ships from planet to planet, Val Calendula never thought she would apply for a job as a combat pilot in a mercenary outfit. But her brother has gotten himself into financial trouble, and he’s heading to a mining prison if Val can’t pay off his debts. Mercenaries don’t always live long... but they make good money while they’re alive. A few combat bonuses, and Val could earn what she needs. The problem? She might have graduated from the military flight academy, but she hasn’t fought anything more dangerous than dust bunnies on the bridge lately. To make matters worse, the man in charge of hiring pilots was her instructor back at the academy. Commander Thatcher was almost as brilliant as he was arrogant and condescending, and he never seemed to think Val was smart enough to be there. She has no idea if she’ll be able to convince him otherwise now... or if she’ll be able to stand working with him.

When Gregor Thatcher left the military, he never expected to run into any of his former acquaintances, much less the one he admired and mooned over during his two years teaching at the academy. Back then, he never told Val Calendula he cared for her, partially because officers weren’t supposed to have relations with cadets, but mostly because he didn’t know how to speak of his feelings. He might not have any trouble grasping navigational mathematics and astrodynamics, but people are more problematic. Gregor is elated that Val has entered his life again, but he’s fairly certain she hates him. Worse, he’s responsible for deciding whether she’s qualified to be a combat pilot. How can he judge fairly when his tongue tangles and idiotic words come out of his mouth whenever she’s around?

When the captain sends Val and Gregor on a mission to pick up a military advisor and deliver him to a planet at war, Val hopes she’ll have an opportunity to prove herself capable of the piloting position. Gregor hopes he’ll have the opportunity to improve Val’s opinion of him. But when the military advisor goes missing, and they’re forced to divert to a dangerous moon base, the mission turns into a fight for survival. Val may learn too late that there’s more to Gregor than that aloof exterior… and that inside is a man she could love.

The lord god of SciFiRomance geeks is alive and well in this book. And I luvs him.

The author of this series reminds me so much of Sherrilyn Kenyon in regards of character descriptions. Kenyon's are based purely on the perceptions of the other surrounding characters, just as Lionsdrake uses the perceptions of her characters to bring you closer to her own leading ladies and gents. Even if that perception varies drastically from the actually truth. Let me attempt to explain...

Gregor is a stoic, detached, cyborgish character who, quite simply, does not relate well to other people. This demeanor brings Val, and so many others, to view him as an arrogant, self righteous prick while in reality, he's just operating on another level. Their reactions, specifically their sarcasm, doesn't translate well to his way of thinking and in those moments where he's processing or going over the conversation as to why she responded in such a way... what could he have said differently... what her true meaning had been.. it all clashes so beautifully with Val's own take. In his silence, as he stares blankly, she is left wondering what she said wrong. What more was he expecting?

The author has an amazing talent for getting inside the minds of her characters and using that to bring them off the paper to the point where, if it was movie, you would lose out on so much of who the character truly is. Some things are just better in books. And it's people like Lionsdrake that make me so thankful for the written word. As silly as that may be.

As far as Gregor and Val go.. I can't say this is a happily ever after. These two have way too many differences separating them. But that's the good thing about this series. There are no promises that things will last forever. There are no I Love Yous. No proposals of marriage. There's simply two people who make a connection and, in maturity and curiosity, allow it to grow.

4 out of 5 stars.

Book one... Ah-mazing. Grab it right here, right now.

*My copy of Trial & Temptation was received from the author.

Previously in the series:

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