This novel involves three people. One is Jake Ingram, a brilliant man working to solve the theft of a staggering sum of money from the World Bank. The next is Jake’s adoptive brother, our hero, Zach Ingram. Zach is a college professor who has always felt overshadowed by his dazzling brother. Upon leaving work one day, Zach is set upon by mysterious villains who kidnap him. The villains, it is soon clear, think he is Jake.
The third person is Dr. Maisy Dalton, a psychiatrist who specializes in helping people recover repressed or brainwashed memories. She receives a distraught call from an elderly woman, begging her to help her son, whom she calls Jake Smith. She is told that Jake was a member of a cult for many years, and doesn’t remember his family or even his name. Intrigued, Maisy goes out to the isolated ranch, and is disturbed to discover that her patient has been drugged and bound. It doesn’t take her long to discover that all is not as it seems here, and that her patient’s name really isn’t Jake. When she discovers that Zach is being tortured, she vows to help him escape – but his captors don’t intend to let either of them go alive.
This is a readable little book, packed with action and intrigue, and with two generally likable protagonists. I especially grew fond of Maisy, an intelligent woman who actually plans her actions and thinks things through. The villains are a well-organized, well-funded lot who are convincingly menacing.
The main trouble is that this book is extremely short, and that so much of it focuses on the action and intrigue part that the romance gets short shrift. This is especially true because, for almost the entire book, either Zach or Maisy is drugged or unconscious. During the approximately day and a half that they’re both cogent they manage to have some serious conversations, but I still found it difficult to believe the depth and passion of their relationship by the end of the book.
This novel is a first in the Family Secrets continuity series, but as there are four “prequels” to this series (three series titles and an anthology precede it), I didn’t feel up to speed beginning here, even though I’d read one of the “prequels” (The Impossible Alliance). Since it is a slice out of a larger story, it feels extremely unfinished and the reader is left with lots of unfilled gaps. I understand that the series deals with a group of genetically engineered individuals – presumably Jake is one of these – but the novel never mentions any of that at all. The back cover blurb refers to “MEDUSA and the potentially dangerous X5,” but the book never mentions those things and I have no idea what they are; indeed, even though I’d read one of the prequels, I was still cluless, so if you’re not well-grounded in the series mythology, this is not the place to start.
I have to wonder how difficult it is to write a book that’s part of an interconnected series like this. Somebody at Silhouette must have come up with the overarching plot, and then individual authors have to somehow create convincing love stories that fit within that plot and further it. It’s scarcely any wonder that the resulting novel feels incomplete and a bit improbable. There’s at least one huge gaping plot hole, as well – the kind of thing that almost certainly came about because the author was working with a structure not of her own devising. The fact that this book is as readable and interesting as it is serves as a testament to Shayne’s ability.
Obviously, Enemy Mind will work best for those who have read the earlier Family Secrets titles. If you aren’t, it’s still a fairly pleasant read, and there’s nothing wrong with it that another hundred pages or so might not have fixed. While I found it agreeable enough, it just doesn’t hang together well enough to get a recommendation.