"Enemy Within," Marcella Burnard

Pros: Fascinating society, aliens, twisty plot…
Cons: Starts off a little florid when introducing the male lead
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group


Captain Alexandra Rose, or Ari, had been a captive of the vicious alien Chekydran—the only person to ever survive such captivity. Now she faces more than her share of difficulties. It took heroic measures to stitch her mind and body back together again, and flashbacks can still send her over the edge, making her highly dangerous to be around. Her swiftly rising military career is effectively over, since her military will never be able to trust her, always wondering whether she’s been compromised in some way.

Now Ari babysits her father’s science expedition, trying to finish off her PhD despite the fact that she has no idea how she’ll survive as a “normal” citizen. Then her father’s ship is taken over by pirates. Those pirates seem to be after her, and they’re fleeing from problems of their own. Their leader, Cullin, displays particular interest in Ari—and he has an agenda and secrets that rival her own. Together they’re going to have to use every resource at their disposal just to stay alive.


The only real problem that I had with Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Within involved Cullin’s introduction. The book is more dark science fiction adventure than romance novel, yet the tone when he’s introduced is more like that of an erotic romance. It would have read better if it had been dialed down a notch or two. That said, some of that tone makes more sense later on once you know some additional background on the situation. There are also a few times when Cullin and Ari go back and forth a bit more on their opinions of each other than might be strictly necessary, but again, some of that makes more sense once you get more information.

The rest of the book is taken up by twisty-turny intrigue, constantly changing battle lines, secrets within secrets, and an ever-shifting landscape of enemies and allies. It also contains interesting and enjoyable characters with plenty of depth to them, not to mention some fascinating human and alien groups and societies.

There’s plenty of action to go around, great chemistry between the leads, an enjoyable erotic romance plot, and a gripping mystery or two to be solved. Beware, however—Ari’s experiences with the Chekydran are very dark indeed, so if you like your stories light and uplifting, this isn’t the book for you.

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