Author: Petra Landon
Series: The Araloka Chronicles #1
She’s a prisoner of the Imperial Forces. He’s a nomad with a private mercenary army. Can a desperate girl’s risky gamble and a fierce warrior’s love turn the tide of war and alter the balance of power in their slice of space?
In a distant corner of the galaxy, Sector Araloka burns in the flames of a deadly war. The Budheya people are one of the worst affected. Once the most advanced civilization in the quadrant, they now struggle under the cruel yoke of Ketaari occupation.
Imprisoned by the Ketaari Imperial Forces, a young Budheya girl is sent to a distant space station to work in an alehouse. For a girl who has known only hardship in her short life, things could be worse. Until an old foe walks into the alehouse.
Zoran is Hadari’Kor – notoriously fierce mercenaries who only fight for hire. Drawn to a weary-eyed server girl, Zoran is forced to confront age-old traditions and question his role in the war.
The Rebel & The Mercenary
Alone, friendless and far from home, Saakshi makes a desperate gamble to trust an enigmatic stranger whose hot gaze haunts her dreams. The echoes of this unlikely alliance reverberate across the sector. As a relentless enemy hunts Saakshi, Zoran must fight with everything in his arsenal to protect her. When passion ignites amidst the embers of a smoldering war, will a warrior’s quest for justice bring a mighty Empire to its knees…
Not so long ago I won a signed paperback copy of this book. I have to thank the author for sending the book to Spain, even though I know that the delivery fees are not cheap at all. Among the Romane genres, Sci-Fi is maybe the least popular. Not many books are published under that genre and some of the ones that are released don’t look very interesting. In Spain is even worse. That genre doesn’t even exist. The few Sci-Fi Romance books that are translated are published as Paranormal… That mini-rant was to imply that I’m always glad to get a Sci-Fi Romance that looks like fun, so I was very happy when I won the giveaway.
The books tells the story of Saakshi, a Budheya prisioner of the brutal Ketaari Imperial Forces. She was sold as a slave to Pik, the owner of an alehouse in a space station in the middle of the neutral territory. Luckily for her, Pik is nice enough to treat her as respectfully as possible. In that forced job, she met Zoran, a Hadari’Kor mercenary. They never talked, but the attraction between them is pretty obvious. Everything was going fine, until a Ketaari soldier appears in the station and recognize Saakshi as a “former” rebel. The Unta-Golar thinks he can take advantage of his position to get sexual services from Saakshi. She obviously refuses. He doesn’t accept her answer and the threats begin. As you can imagine, the Budheya runs towards Zoran looking for help.
And that is how the story begins. It looked like it was going to be a fun romance book with lots of action and dangerous enemies, but it is not. Almost half of this book could be labelled as boring. During the first chapters, the characters get stuck in a loop and the story doesn’t go forwards. After Saakshi’s rescue, the pace of the book quickens but the action proves itself elusive. Every time there is going to be a battle, the author moves the focus to another place and we learn about the result of the conflict through comments by supporting characters. That’s a bit disappointing and my biggest issue with this book.
The characters are ok. I have enjoyed them most of the time. Saakshi’s behaviour along the book makes sense. It must be hard to trust someone after all her bad experiences in life. Zoran is the classic male character in Romance: a soft teddy bear wrapped in candy cane. Tough and yummy looking on the surface, but a sensitive and a loving guy on the inside. The supporting characters are also very nice and I hope to know more about them in future books. The most important question I have to resolve about them is this: Is Jolar single? And if so… Can I have his address? I have loved every single moment with that character. He is a hugger!! I’m sold!!
The wordbuilding of this book is also awesome. It’s simple, but rich and with lots of potential stories. We have two factions fighting for the control of the Araloka Sector: the Alliance (a.k.a. the good guys) and the Ketaari Empire. I guess in future books will explore more about the conflict. This one has been just an introduction. At least I hope there is more action in the following ones and that we can witness those situations.
The romance of the book is nothing out the ordinary. Girl meets boy. Boy flirts with girl. Boy and girl get together (very, very close). Boy leaves and girl gets sad. Boy comes back and all is fine again. The worst part about the romance has been some comments of Zoran. In a very passive way he forces Saakshi to live her life as he pleases. What she must do, what she must wear… He even makes the Budheya feel bad when she doesn’t follow his unspoken instructions… Thankfully doesn’t happen very often, so I will be nice and I will not consider Zoran a toxic boyfriend. But if I were her… I would be lap dancing in Jolar’s room all day!!
I can’t finish the review without commenting on the cover. It’s SO pretty!! I love the art, the colors and the font. It looks awesome in my shelf. Most of the covers in the Sci-Fi Romance genre are crap. Just big, headless guys showing off muscle. Sometimes with weird green or blue skin… So, yeah, the cover of The Mercenary deserves a comment to highlight the great piece of art.