Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Heart of Blade Duology, #2
Hero: Leighton Atwood
Heroine: Bai Ying-hua
Date of Publication: August 5, 2014
Started On: October 2, 2014
Finished On: October 4, 2014
My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas follows closely on the heels of The Hidden Blade. I would say this once again, this time having finished the 2nd book that signals the end of this duology; you have to read The Hidden Blade first in order to really get into the characters Leighton Atwood and Bai Ying-Hua (Catherine Blade), whose tragic and moving pasts entwine both of them in a way that’d not be felt if you just end up reading My Beautiful Enemy as a standalone.
My Beautiful Enemy tells the story of Catherine Blade aka Bai Ying-hua, who is tracking the three jade tablets for the treasure it might unearth based on the legend of the monks that had been a part of Catherine’s life when she had been growing up. She seeks the tablets on behalf of her stepfather Da-ren, the closest thing she has left as family, to win his approval and perhaps be considered worthy of all that he had done for her.
Catherine is well versed in the art of fighting, she is like a lethal blade honed to perfection. But her life had not come without making a formidable enemy in its wake. The man who searches for her seeks vengeance of the kind that needs Catherine to be in her best form, something she has been hard pressed to achieve ever since the last encounter between them. Her journey takes her to London, the stories of a city that teems with life according to her childhood friend that fails to live up to her expectations. And then it happens; she crosses paths with that of her lover, the lover that she had poisoned trying to kill him, the man she’d searched for in vain after, the man who still has the ability to bring her to her knees, the only man she has ever loved.
Leighton hasn’t forgotten the young woman who had slayed his heart in the Chinese Turkestan 8 years back. His love for her had been swift, but it had been a relationship based on half-truths at best, which hadn’t served well for either of them when the time had come. Seeing a different version of the woman he has tried to forget all these years throws him for a loop, and Leighton is hard pressed to act normally and not let his fiance think anything untoward about his aloofness around Catherine.
Old habits die hard and before Leighton knows it, he is swept into his old role of taking care of Catherine, looking after her well being because Leighton would rather die himself than see any harm come to Catherine. My Beautiful Enemy consists of a lot of flashbacks into the entwined pasts of Leighton and Catherine, how they meet and how the beautiful man that Leighton is wins the prickly Catherine over with his gentleness, charm and the fact that when it comes to Catherine, his heart had never stood a chance.
For the most part, Catherine comes across as someone who is straightforward and assumes a no nonsense lifestyle. Though well versed in the etiquettes of what is deemed as proper behavior for a lady, beneath the facade that she presents to the rest of the world lies a heart filled with loneliness, an aching soul that yearns for nothing else but love. Her past had taught her to be wary, but when it comes to Leighton there is little fight left in her when she had already succumbed to his touch years ago. I didn’t like the flashbacks all so much. I felt that one reason why I failed to connect to both Leighton and Catherine as the story progressed was because all that had indeed connected them happens through flashbacks in the story.
My Beautiful Enemy is certainly different from the books that I have read from Sherry Thomas to-date. This tale doesn’t focus mainly on the element of romance between Catherine and Leighton. Rather I would say this duology focuses on the fated connection between Catherine and Leighton that spanned continents all those years back, the near miss of a meeting that should have happened between them and how years later, finally, Catherine and Leighton find their way towards each other.
I felt a trifle bit disappointed with the steam factor of My Beautiful Enemy, perhaps the reason why I felt that Catherine and Leighton’s connection didn’t touch me in the way it really should have. Especially, after having read the scrumptious scenes of passion that Ms. Thomas can weave in her romances; The Luckiest Lady in London will attest to this fact, needless to say I felt My Beautiful Enemy was a bit of a letdown in that sense. Point; I just didn’t fall as hard and fast in love with either Leighton or Catherine as I should have.
Entertainment wise, My Beautiful Enemy hits the spots. Emotional wise, thought I felt a bit disconnected from Catherine and Leighton, I was still swept away by the sheer magic that is Sherry Thomas’ writing.
And oh yes, this bit in the novel that describes my country, the Maldives, blew me away!
“There is a chain of tropical coral islands not far from the southern tip of India. And all around them the water is the exact color of the sky, and so clear you can see the fish swim. I want to take you there.”
I’d say Sherry Thomas has done a perfect job in describing a country renown for its beauty.
Recommended for those who love historical fiction and romance. Sherry Thomas is an author you ought not miss in this genre.
Final Verdict: A connection that defies time and distance; a love that knows not the span of continents.
When he returned, one window of his room was wide open, the curtain whipping in the draft.
Someone with her skills could have easily closed the window behind herself, if she wanted to.
Instead, she had chosen to acknowledge her presence. Her invasion of his privacy.
And in doing so, reaffirmed the desire on her part that had set him on fire, like a city already ransacked.
Slowly she lowered the dagger, but the pulse at her throat grew ever more agitated. Her gaze landed on his lips. He held his breath, his heartbeat wild. He remembered the taste of her skin, the texture of her hair, the lithe shape of her body pressed into his. He remembered the whimpers of pleasure that escaped her, the glazed look in her eyes, the way she writhed and clung and took him ever deeper inside herself.
The parlor echoed with the sounds of their breaths.
She pivoted and walked out.
Behind her, the bead curtain shook and swayed, as restless as the desires of his heart.
She felt her lips tremble, her throat constrict. He’d gone back twice? “You must not have realized that I caused your occasional disability.”
“I have known it for years. The poison in your salve was extraordinarily powerful.”
She could scarcely believe it. The backs of her eyes prickled. “And still you looked for me?”
He exhaled. “And still I looked for you.”
Something hot and wet rolled down her cheek. “I left Chinese Turkestan in the winter of eighty-three. I never went back.”
He closed his eyes for a moment and let go of her. “I guess some things are not meant to be.”
Neither of them said anything more. And then the silence became that of his absence, a silence that she had come to know all too well.
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