Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
What do you get when you combine starcrossed lovers, enough attraction to power a small city, and the threat of no future? Winter Renshaw’s newest book, Enemy Dearest. The Monreauxs and Roses are enemies, a tenet created after tragedies befalling both families. August, the youngest Monreaux, and Sheridan Rose are taught from their youth to avoid each other. This isn’t difficult given that the Monreauxs are the royalty of their town in Missouri, while the Roses struggle for every penny. One night, though, changes everything. When August Monreaux finds Sheridan Rose floating in his pool to escape the heat of the day, all bets are off. August determines that he will make the Roses pay for his family’s tragedy through seducing their daughter, Sheridan. Unfortunately, that changes when August and Sheridan realize that their foundation of hate may be a mistake, and they will fight to find their happy ending together.
Winter Renshaw has an adeptness at writing heroes such as August, heroes broken and emotionally detached. They tend to surround themselves with the fire of their ire believing that love is a farce. Instead, they live to destroy the feelings of others. August continues in this tradition in Enemy Dearest. The difference with August is that he is younger than many of Renshaw’s earlier heroes, qualifying Enemy Dearest as a New Adult romance, for anyone who loves that particular genre. However, to quantify this book in that way honestly reduces it. August exists in this story to prove himself worthy of his heroine. For the first half of the book, he isn’t heroic by any measure. He exists. He parties. He has no ambition, and he simply wants to make the Roses pay for his loss. He’s willing to do this at any cost. With these attributes, he is ripe for a transformation.
In true romance form, Renshaw crafts a heroine in Sheridan who is the light to August’s dark. She understands easily August’s intent with her, and she willingly entraps herself to his plan to protect the health of her mother. She is compassionate, hardworking, and goal-driven, the antithesis of August. In their coupling, they are the yin to the other’s yang, and Sheridan becomes the impetus for August’s evolution. With this understanding, Renshaw makes it easy to fall in love with her hero and heroine because they grow into each other in the shadow of forbidden love. That is romance catnip for this reader.
Where the book struggles is in its elaboration of the forbidden love. Much of this story is spent in developing the individual characters of the story, but the history of the two families is rushed. There are moments in the book that feel underdeveloped, more specifically an important conversation between Sheridan and her father. There is much that could be explained in the conversation, yet it feels glossed over in its development. Even more, the ending is rushed. I would have liked to have had the resolution fleshed out more so that we could feel the emotional impact of the changing of the guard. Instead, it falls flat.
That being said, Enemy Dearest is a romance that will draw you in as August and Sheridan find their way. It’s a story that reminds us that we can be more than the sins of our fathers; it reminds us that love will conquer all even when our choices seem few. Winter Renshaw’s story will remind you why you love to read her stories.
In love and romance,