Mercury Striking (Scorpius Syndrome #1) by Rebecca Zanetti #BookReview
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
“Now this is not the end.
It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
— Sir Winston Churchill
When I read Scorpius Rising, the first story in the Scorpius Syndrome series (part of the On the Hunt anthology*), I immediately liked the setup: our modern day world falling to pieces after a pandemic bacterial infection kills 90% of the Earth’s population and turns half the survivors into either brutal, genius serial killers or raging zombie-like crazies. Mercury Striking picks up months after Scorpius has spiraled madly out of control and all semblance of modern society has ceased to exist. The survivors are either scared out of their minds and seeking protection (at any cost) or are ruthless rulers willing to kill, rape, and steal to see another day and retain their power.
“Your reasons may be honorable, and your purpose for fighting a good one, but in the heat of battle? You have to be the one feared. Period.”
Jax Mercury set up his territory inside L.A. before the internet and TV stations went down, and he runs it with an iron fist. The ex-gang, ex-Delta Force soldier knows when to be a hard ass and when to hide his emotions, and he protects his people with both fair rules and zero tolerance. Lynne Harmony seeks him out for his strength and moral compass, but Jax knows Lynne is hiding more than just her glowing blue heart, a souvenir from the Ripper who infected her back when she was frantically trying to find a cure at the CDC.
The rational part of her brain, the scientist that understood human behavior, comprehended the advantage of being tied to Jax Mercury. Safety lay in his savagery, in being protected by a man who had what it took to survive.
But he was more than that. She knew, from the gentle way he’d treated her earlier, the man had depths.
There’s a lot to like about Mercury Striking, like the thought-provoking quotes that introduce each new chapter and the sense of constant uncertainty from never knowing who’s a hidden Ripper just waiting to pounce. This story is the darkest I’ve read from Rebecca Zanetti to date, and it definitely makes me feel thankful for our relative peace and modern conveniences. It’s gritty like an old school urban fantasy, intense and serious like a romantic suspense, and features Ms. Zanetti’s hallmark tortured-alpha-badass-with-a good heart hero character and smart, sassy, sexy go-getter style of heroine.
“You wear dominance like most guys wear boots.”
He’d dated tough women, really tough women. On the streets and then in the service. And he’d dated a couple of really intelligent women. But the combination of so much brain and courage, he hadn’t seen before.
Since Mercury Striking is the first full novel in the series, you can start here, but I highly recommend skipping back to the novella Scorpius Rising in the On the Hunt anthology* so some of the characters and back story are more familiar. The Scorpius Syndrome series will appeal to romance readers who enjoy darker dystopian stories set in a chaotic post-apocalyptic world.
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