Published by Montlake Romance on 31st March 2020
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As kids, they hated each other. Macon Saint was beautiful, but despite his name, Delilah knew he was the devil. That he dated her slightly evil sister, Samantha, was no picnic either. When they broke up, it was a dream come true: Delilah never had to see him again.
Ten years later, her old enemy sends a text.
Delilah’s sister has stolen a valuable heirloom from Macon, now a rising Hollywood star, and he intends to collect his due. One problem: Sam has skipped town.
Sparks still sizzle between Macon and Delilah, only this heat feels alarmingly like unwanted attraction. But Delilah is desperate to keep her weak-hearted mother from learning of her sister’s theft. So she proposes a deal: she’ll pay off the debt by being Macon’s personal chef and assistant.
It’s a recipe for disaster, but Macon can’t stop himself from accepting. Even though Delilah clearly hates him, there’s something about her that feels like home. Besides, they’re no longer kids, and what once was a bitter rivalry has the potential to be something sweeter. Something like forever.
The enemies-to-lovers trope is one of my all time favourites, so this book sits directly in my happy pool of catnip, so to speak. The sniping, the sass, the smart and sarcastic quips? All belong in my happy little romance basket of tropes I like and what a fun ride this was, albeit one that had started off dubiously with a set of odd and somewhat roundabout circumstances that brought Delilah Baker and Macon Saint—former childhood enemies so to speak—back together as adults.
‘Dear Enemy’ is written around the scarring trauma of teenagehood—be it in the forms of scattered moments unkind teasing or bullying—and how it’s easily dismissed today as something to get over, despite its power to shape adulthood. Delilah/Macon’s hostile relationship many years ago hasn’t been forgotten and buried and here, Kristen Callihan charts out the extent of the trauma that has its roots in manipulation in all its forms that each character did in his/her own way, subtly, unintentionally or consciously. That Delilah’s endlessly toxic and self-absorbed sister played a huge part in their story (despite her absence) wasn’t one that I was entirely comfortable with, but at least nasty issue of double-dipping wasn’t quite one that came through strongly.
But what kept me going however, was a heroine who took no prisoners, laughed and lived and loved as directly and openly as she knew how. I loved Delilah’s chutzpah, her personal sense of justice, her intolerance for people putting her down—all in all, for being a protagonist comfortable in her own skin and knowing where she stood with others, her only frustratingly blind spot being her family that she still clung onto by the end.
At the same time, Macon was fascinating in his willingness to be vulnerable and honest, and his recognition that his issues and actions had far-reaching consequences years later made him a protagonist that stood apart from the usual cocky and arrogant alpha ones who basically need a club to their heads for that to happen.
Theirs is long journey though, a slow, slow burn treatment that moves them from enemies to neutral parties, to friends and finally to more and is all the more convincing because of it. The read is quite an easy and engaging one because of it and though I would have liked a more solid conclusion, Callihan did deliver one of the better enemies-to-lovers stories I’ve read in a while.