Another guest review from Melanie!
There was a legitimate concern when I sat down to write this review that it would mainly consist of heart-eyed emojis and exclamation points. It’s an accurate representation of how this book made me feel.
Dear Enemy is a slow burn, enemies to lovers romance, which is hands down my absolute favorite trope. If anyone should use the term slow-burn to recommend a romance to me, chances are high that I’ve already one-clicked it or 5 starred it.
But let me be clear, slow burns are hard to write. There must be engaging and memorable characters and snarky and witty banter between the leads and the ultimate payoff must be worth the wait the reader has to endure to get to it. It’s actually ridiculous that a person who is as impatient as I am so enjoys a subcategory of romance that can best be explained by the phrase, WAIT FOR IT.
In Dear Enemy, Kristen Callihan has managed to employ all of the traits necessary to write a successful slow burn. Delilah Baker and Macon Saint, adversaries since childhood, have been forced back into each other’s orbit after a ten year gap. To say they do not get along is a massive understatement. Yet, against her better judgment, Delilah makes a deal with the devil that is Macon Saint, when her sister, who also happens to be Macon’s ex high-school girlfriend, skips town after stealing from him.
Delilah and Macon’s back and forth banter is snarky and sarcastic and basically the most delicious brand of verbal foreplay. Yes, they have history and some of it is very, very ugly but there is no denying the underlying heat and chemistry that exists between these two characters. Watching their verbal sparring, their endless thrust and parry of heated insults is only tolerable because of the sexual tension that coats all of their interactions. You just know when these two finally finally get horizontal on a bed (or in a bathtub or on a sandy beach), the end result is bound to be explosive.
But if the book was just sexy fighting leading up to some hot love scenes, that’s kind of an empty shell of a romance. What makes Dear Enemy really work is the emotional component, watching these long-time adversaries coming together to realize that people can grow and change, and that these two individuals who used to bring out the worst in each other can actually evolve to bringing out the best in each other. And that ultimately leads to the question that Delilah must answer for herself: can a guy who was the root cause of so much misery in her youth also turn out to be the greatest source of happiness for her as an adult? Given that this is a romance, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the chances of this happening are pretty high.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the side characters in this novel. While Delilah’s sister, Sam, could take a hike and I really would not miss her, I desperately hope that Macon’s bodyguard/stunt double, North West (no relation to Kim and Kanye) gets his own book. He was a delight and I enjoyed his interactions with both Delilah and Macon.
Ultimately, though, the book rests on the shoulders of its main characters. Watching Delilah and Macon travel this bumpy road from mutual wariness and disdain to one of reluctant trust and respect to ultimately falling hard for each other is what makes this slow burn well worth the wait.
ARC received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Content Warnings: Bullying, deceased parent, stalking, mention of past trauma (child abuse, car accident), theft, sibling manipulation