Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: February 2016
Publisher: Zebra/Kensington
Length: 362 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received for free from RT16

As much as I "enjoyed" parts of this book, it will always be the "ass spanking book." As in: non-consensual ass spanking, which is a firm DO NOT CROSS line for me. So however much the plot grew on me, that one thing still stands out.

The other problem with the book, which is not the author or book's fault, is that it is post-apocalyptic. Which, given what a shitstorm our country is experiencing, was so not the book I needed. It is bleak times 1000, and I suspect it's probably the very last book of this kind that I am able to read for at least the next four years.

The setting is the husk of what is left of LA. The Scorpius bacteria, an extraterrestrial "gift,  has decimated 99% of the US population. Jax Mercury, former special forces, has gathered a group of citizens into an enclave in part of LA, protected by others like him.  Abandoned cars litter the freeways. The bacteria kills most of the people it infects. Of those who survive, none are left untouched. Many turn into serial killers or zombie type people. The internet, power grid, refineries and government are all shut down. Too few people to run them.

Into this mess walks Lynne Harmony, known as Blue Heart. A former CDC doctor who worked in the DC office, she was treated with some kind of experimental squid DNA which resulted in her heart glowing with a blue luminescence. She's on the run from what's left of the government, hoping to find a hidden CDC center. Alone, she decides that Jax Mercury is her best shot at finding the center and locating their research—with a potential cure for everyone.

This is a DARK book. I guess that's obvious given the setting and subject, but don't read this and get attached to anyone. Secondary characters are killed off throughout: including children. The "romance" part is the part I had an even bigger issue with. It comes across as coercive and Stockholm-syndromish, despite the author's attempts to sell it as something else. Jax goes from whipping her rear with a belt to having sex with her in the span of 20 pages. Just...nope. And the spanking is done without consent, hard enough to leave bruises. It's done as punishment. I don't care what the extenuating circumstances were. Nuh uh.

Which of course made me completely not buy a single damn thing about the romance.

The thriller/adventure part of the book worked just fine, but without the romance to lighten it up, it is just depressing and gritty and unrelentingly bleak.

My Grade: D

The Blurb:
With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynne Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynne is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…

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