Title: Falling in Love with the Enemy (Reincarnation Trilogy, #1)
Author: Katrina “Adrian” Miller
Cover Artist: n/a
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Historical M/M Romance
Length: Novella/126 pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This book was well-written, especially for self published book, with characters that came alive on pages for me, but I just wished that I could find them more likeable and their reactions less all over the place.
It’s the year, 1883 and Alistair Sampson is a wealthy farmer living on a secluded ranch in Avoy, Georgia. He is also hiding a secret from the town, something so big he could be hung if found out. Since his wife ran out on him, Alistair is finding himself lonely, so he decides to offer room and board to the new school teacher. Thomas Milton is a teacher from Boston, who is also hiding a secret. Ever since he was caught in an “ungodly” act with one of his students, he’s been in hiding. After applying for a teaching job in his hometown, he is offered the position, as well as room from a local farmer. When the two men meet at the train station, they’re disgusted to see the other. Both men were mortal enemies in school. As the days pass, both men realize they have a deep attraction to the other. Can they make peace with their past, and become more than friends? Most important of all, will the town ever find out their secret?
I requested this book for review because of its title. If you tell me that you have a book which explores “from enemies to lovers” trope, I will give it a go no matter what…unless in the process of falling in love one guy rapes another then I will skip, but I am always looking for more books with this trope. And this was a historical; since I love historicals, so I was sold.
I thought that overall the writer did a very good job with settings. While the action takes place in a fictional town in Georgia, the settings were drawn well and seemed credible. I also thought that the the characters were three-dimensional, and the fact that both guys are almost paranoid because they are so afraid of being discovered was very true to historical reality, but unfortunately that is where the positives ended for me.
I had several large problems with how both Alistair and Thomas behaved, and they managed to bother me quite a lot. Other readers may feel differently.
First and foremost I disliked Alistair almost from the moment he appears on page. You see, we learn that his wife left him because she caught him cheating on her with his lover — an Indian boy Alistair brought to their house and hired as farm hand. Note that this in itself was not a problem for me as I am one of those readers who has absolutely no issue with infidelity in romances. If the issue is explored well and to my satisfaction, I do not automatically dislike the cheating party. Here I was ready to punch Alistair in the face every time he talked or thought about his wife. No, I do not want him to love his wife, especially since he prefers men in his bed, but I did want him to exhibit some sort of compassion towards a woman, who in the 19th century, would have had to run from her home back to her parents even though she was faithful to her husband. I wanted to see some sort of remorse, simply because Alistair would have had some sort of idea how hard it would be for woman in this time period to leave her husband. Instead we see that he calmly brings his lover under their roof, cooks up some story why his lover cannot stay in his tribe, and we see that Alistair’s wife shows that guy (this was not Thomas by the way yet) nothing but kindness, while behind her back they mock her (paraphrasing, basically the lover asks whether his wife is really that stupid).
And then when Alistair and Thomas get together, well Alistair still does not show any kind of sympathy, even though Thomas wonders what caused them to marry. She married Alistair for his money so now we are permitted to hate her in peace, only see the problem is the only one acting badly is Alistair and his narration did not endure me to have any warm feelings towards him. And when her father sends Alistair a letter that she died, he is basically relieved. And I was sitting there and thinking how much cannot stand him and do not care if he gets to experience any kind of happiness. I just did not.
I liked Thomas better than I liked Alistair, however I was also shaking my head over some of the reactions he exhibits. Incidentally I wonder whether a farmer in a small town in Georgia in the year 1883 would know the word “abuse” and would determine that Thomas was abused. I doubt it, but I am ready to stand corrected. I will also put aside the question as to how eager such a farmer would be to get married to his lover in that time period because at the very least he does not show ridiculous desire of getting married in a church only in private, and I thought the author was rather clever about how she made their wedding sort of public eventually. However — however — I want to say this was marred for me because after they do get married, Alistair calls Thomas his wife and I stopped counting how many times he said that. Please attribute it to my incredible dislike of the “chick with dick” characterization, which Thomas actually is not, but it felt as if the writer tried to make him one no matter what. If we want to have a wedding, why not call Thomas his husband I wonder? He is not a woman after all, right?
But in the end I still wanted to see the “from enemies to lovers” so badly and that failed for me as well. Unfortunately they become lovers way too fast for me to enjoy the change and as it turns out while they acted as enemies when they were kids, they had feelings for each other (the love was always there buried under fighting). So I guess the effect is good and bad; at least it is not an Insta!Love, but for those like me who thought that we may have the real slow-paced mindset change of thinking of a person as somebody you hate to somebody you love, well it was too fast for me. I guess I can describe it as they have had a revelation of what they really felt about one another.
Lastly, the ending did not impress me, or should I say the preparation to the ending did not impress me? If you see the name of the book you may guess what was happening, but I had several issues with how it was happening and the explanation which was given. Again, let me stress, the title of the book set my expectations; I did not come to reading it with preset of expectations before I read the title, so I do not see it as judging the book because I did not get to read the story I wanted to read, it is just when the title says “falling in love with the enemy,” I actually expect to see that happening on page.