by Marcella Burnard

Berkley Publishing Group, $15.00, 342 pages

Sometimes you have to wonder what would happen if Jane Austen was a little racier and into science fiction. Enemy Within goes a long ways towards answering that question. Captain Alexandria “Ari” Rose is the first person to be let go from an alien prison; as the aliens were into genetic manipulation, this makes the military unsure of her loyalties. She is effectively sentenced to her father’s expedition, where she is captured by pirate Seagdh Cullin, who has a crush on Ari. Eventually, the secret of what they did to her comes out, and it wasn’t even what she thought it was.

Although the sheer amount of sexual tension here is normally a death-knell for a book, especially as close to pulp archetypes this book hews, but because of the sheer fun Burnard has with it, the twists and turns of their romance and plot itself work out. Ari is not your normal Austen heroin, as her angst matches her weapon skill, making her one of the most interesting protagonists in a while. Enemy Within is one of those books you need to read, especially if you’re tired of the traditional “damsel in distress gets rescued” books.

by Jamais Jochim