Zebra, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4201-3794-1
Sci-fi Romance, 2016
Mercury Striking introduces a post-apocalyptic world, one in which a virus wiped out 99% of the population. I’m always up for such a story – it has no zombies, but I’m here for the action and bang-bang-bang stuff. Unfortunately, the icky romance stuff spoils everything.
Lynne Harmony is a patient zero – she harbors the original strain of virus in her body, and rumor has it, that virus may have mutated into something more special. With a name like that, it’s probably for the best that she’s a walking petri dish. Everyone thought she was dead, but hey, she’s not. She’s instead walking braless (no, really) and seeking the help of our most virile hot crap hero of the universe, Jax Mercury, for a special mission in which she’d whine a lot and need to be carried around like a sack of infected potatoes, while he goes around growling and flexing his muscles when his mercury is not rising to attention. Bad guys show up like well-behaved dogs when the author needs some external drama, but for the most part, this story drags as much as Jax’s dragging of Lynne around.
Oh boy, where do I start? How about Lynne’s virus? I must be missing some prequel short story of some sort, as the author seems to assume that all her readers live in countries approved by Amazon and her publisher as locations worthy of purchasing from the Kindle store, and they will buy that short story, so everyone will read this book knowing all the necessary background information. Oops, I’m not an obedient member of her fan club, so I have no clue what the heck Lynne’s virus is supposed to be all about. Later, I’m told that she is worried that she can kill the people around her with a touch… so why does she spend the bulk of the first third of the book stuck in a bed and getting all worked up about whether Jax would force himself on her? If she can kill anyone with a touch, and the world has gone to hell anywhere, hey, let Jax rape her – he’d die what I’d presume to be a painful death so whatever, serve him right.
The fact that she spends so much time going, “Oh, oh, will he stick it in me? Will I be disappointed if he doesn’t?” is so stupid considering that any man with some semblance of self-preservation – even rapey ones – would probably stick it to a dog rather than her. Oh wait, Jax has a chubby every time he insists on her sleeping beside him on his bed – seriously, if she can infect people with a touch, what is he doing? – you know what, I don’t want to know anything anymore. My brain is going on a holiday now, I’ll just try to read this book without thinking too much and see if I can enjoy it even a little.
But there’s nothing interesting happening aside from tedious angst about whether Slot A would ever be filled by Tab B. There is no build-up in the story, so when random bad guy mooks show up, I’m like, “Wait, who are these people and should I even care to know?” The author has Lynne being a generally useless heroine, being dragged from one point to another by Jax, and, of course, the sequel baits are trotted out to tell me to buy all those books too. Instead of action scenes or even scenes that can flesh out the canon of this story, the author is more about some mild BDSM stuff and all.
The sex is unfortunate, because all this while, with me having a fuzzy idea of how that virus works, I can only cringe when I have to read about all that flesh-to-flesh contact.
“What I have in mind doesn’t require condoms.”
The virus killed 99% of the world – yes, I’d love nothing more than to sleep with a carrier, because that makes perfect sense.
Mercury Striking would have been grand if it had been a straightforward survival thriller with a hint of platonic attraction between the two main characters. Maybe then the author could have developed the setting and plot so much better. But I suppose the author needs to make her bread, so she instead goes for the lowest hanging fruit and has the plot reduced to being filler moments between tedious “Oh no, the suspense of whether tonight will be the night when he finally decides to have sex with me!” hand-wringing, eye-rolling sex, and sequel bait roll calls. This is one of those times when I think that some romance authors should just stick to formulaic done-to-death settings if they are going to just go that sexy-sexy-sexy route anyway.