Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: The Assassin's Salvation by Ruby Lionsdrake

The Assassin's Salvation by Ruby Lionsdrake
Series: The Mandrake Company #3
Genre: Romance/Sci-Fi
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When Jamie Flipkens signed on as a pilot and engineer for a small medical research company, she never expected to end up on a mercenary ship full of hulking soldiers who want to make her their latest conquest. The captain has been good to her--it doesn't hurt that he's her boss's new beau--but she's on the verge of quitting when a strange man shows up at her shuttle door.

Sergei Zharkov claims to be an old friend of the captain's. He neglects to mention that he's also an assassin, a dangerous man who even the hardened mercenaries avoid. Jamie should avoid him, too, but she's drawn to the charm that sometimes escapes from beneath his grim facade. She finds herself wanting to give him a reason to smile--and maybe a little more than that.

I've read the first two books in this series, but haven't felt the need to review them. However…this book is notable for certain things that I think should be mentioned.

Trigger Warnings: Attempted rape, rape in backstory and dubious consent - at best.
As such, I talk about this quite openly. If any of this triggers you, you might want to pass on the book and my review.

I love Jamie and Sergei. Not my favorite couple from the series (that goes to Thatcher and Calendula from book two, so far) but they are both such great characters.

Both Sergei and Jamie are somewhat socially inept - preferring spending time alone over large groups of people. Jamie is, in fact, very uncomfortable around leering men - which, unfortunately, there are a lot of aboard the ship - and she has a hard time being forceful enough to get them to leave her alone.

Sergei, on the other hand, is a true gentleman. At least, as much as any man in a romance/erotica can be. He treats her well and refuses to act on any interest he has in her. Oh, but he's interested - interested in her goodness and this truly brings out the quirky side of his personality.

What I like about these two is they're different - different from what this author usually writes (talkative women and taciturn men) and different than what is usually found in these type of books. So, that's a big thumbs up for the characters and their blooming romance.

However, there are a few things in here that are very uncomfortable.

First, there's the fact that Sergei was raped when he was a teenager. Personally, I give the author all kinds of credit for this. It's not something I've ever come across before and I think it was a very gutsy choice. Was it uncomfortable? Oh, yes. I do wish, however, that the word 'rape' would have actually been applied to it, because that's what it was - but, it was never called that. He just said, 'she drugged me and forced me to have sex with her' and no one else called it rape. (Though it totally was.)

Next, we have poor Jamie getting pawed and almost raped. She handled it well enough, I suppose, but it also feels like this happened because the characters needed to be pushed together. And Sergei with his honor and Jamie with her inexperience might never have gotten there without extreme emotion involved. Also, there was a point when Sergei was almost raped. This was very uncomfortable because it encouraged flashbacks to his abuse when he was younger. 

Then, there was this 'business meeting' in a sauna with either chemicals or botanicals that lowered inhibition piped through the air. Once again, uncomfortable in the extreme because if sex would have been the end result, that would have been dubious consent at best and flat out rape at worst. Also, yes, this helped push the two closer. But, interestingly enough, not a thought was spared the others in the room - who were taking part in an orgy - and whether or not they actually consented to sex and if they were even in their right mind to do so.

All in all, I do adore these two together and think they are so much better off than they were alone. There was some character growth for both of them and what they both needed was someone to lean on - and they got it.

Truthfully, I want to give this book a five star rating. I really, really do. However, the way that orgy was ignored unsettled me. It's, at best, dubious consent and at worst rape. However, there's no thought given to the other people there - just the main characters. Without this scene it would have been a five star read.