by Lora Leigh, fantasy (2008)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-425-22418-2
Mercury's War is pretty similar in terms of the relationship dynamics between the hero and the heroine with the other books in the author's Breed series. We have this overpowering alpha male who hovers and looms over the heroine, while the relationship is all about hormones and male obstinacy acting in tandem to get the heroine to submit. But you know why I don't find this series obnoxious the way I find many such stories featuring a dominating Neanderthal to be? Lora Leigh's heroines are never any pushover for these males. As a result, like the other Breed books, Mercury's War is a most enjoyable, if often melodramatic, tale that is essentially a battle of the sexes with lots of sex and heavy breathing thrown into the mix.
Oh, and I have better warn readers - Mercury's War is not going to be an easy read if you are new to the series because the first few chapters jump straight into the action with a pretty significant number of characters with pre-established relationships running around. There is very little opportunity for the new reader to catch up with the story.
This time around, we meet Mercury Warrant. He has lion DNA in his genomic make-up, although this doesn't mean he has a tendency to sit around all day on his ass and get fat while the lionesses in the pride do all the hunting and taking care of the cubs. Mercury would rather do all the thinking, decision making, and taking control in the bedroom if the heroine will let him, and fortunately, Ria Rodriguez isn't going to purr under his touch without putting up a good fight. Ria is actually working undercover to ferret out the mole(s) within the Sanctuary that has been leaking out top secrets to the bad guys, while Mercury is sent to watch over her.
The plot is definitely the weakest aspect of the story, and it's a pretty significant weakness, I'm afraid. I'm already having a hard time believing that Mercury is in any way capable of guard Ria's life since, like pretty much every Breed hero of this author, he is incapable of not thinking about or wanting sex every three pages or so in this story. When the identities of the villains are revealed, I find myself scratching my head because the author has built up the plot to hint at some really grand conspiracy taking place behind the scenes... only to have some small potato characters to be unmasked as the big bad guys. Talk about a mood killer.
On the other hand, I have a good laugh over the two characters running around behaving like adorable hormonal fools in this story. Mercury is an alpha male, but he does exhibit some adorable behavior typical of a man infatuated beyond reason once he believes that he has what he wanted from Ria. He can puff up his chest to rival Johnny Bravo, but he's completely putty in the hands of a smart woman. Ria is a fun heroine here. She can take care of herself, she's capable of putting two and two together, and I especially love how she gives the smackdown to the floozy who tried to steal her man from her. Ria is feisty without crossing the line to being obnoxious or stupid. I also enjoy how Ms Leigh has Ria telling off Mercury when he's being too overbearing, especially when Ria often says out loud the things I am thinking during a particular scene, heh.
Mercury's War is, simply put, a fun read when it comes to the relationship between Mercury and Ria. I'm not sure about the plot, however. I have some serious problems with the way the author handles the plot, especially when the balance between plot motion and sex scenes is completely off here. As a result, I'd consider this a very flawed but enjoyable story rather than a straightforward good book. Hence, my very guarded recommendation of this book.
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