Enemies Like You
Okay – let’s just keep this real. I don’t really believe the CIA is sending super hot retired, elite Special Forces soldiers to assassinate corrupt, sadistic, crazy rich bad guys or that said bad guys employ cross-dressing assassins to keep them alive. Or that these deadly assassins are so paralyzed by lust that they get up to sexy times whenever they’re supposed to kill each other. But this is Romancelandia, these guys are hot for each other, and their chemistry is SCORCHING. Put these things together and Enemies Like You is catnip for a romantic suspense fan. I had no problem jumping on the crazy train and throwing reality out the window devouring this first collaboration between Joanna Chambers and Annika Martin. Enemies Like You is deliciously naughty and entertaining right up until its too neat and tidy denouement – but that’s the only reason it misses a DIK.
Two years earlier in Afghanistan, Will lost his unit in an ambush. Since then, he’s been tracking Sergei Polzin, the corrupt billionaire who betrayed them. When Enemies Like You opens, Will’s working with the CIA to assassinate Polzin. Unfortunately, the billionaire’s own deadly assassin, whom no-one can identify, has killed everyone who’s tried it in the past. But Will is different. He doesn’t care whether he survives the hit – he just wants the billionaire dead.
Kit is Polzin’s bodyguard. Lethal, hardened and willing to do what it takes to protect his boss, Kit knows the CIA has a new killer in its employ, but doesn’t know what he or she looks like. Confident in his team and his ability to spot an assassin before he or she can strike, Kit casually checks out the guests at a party one evening… and keeps returning to a man dressed all in black. There’s something about him (aside from his bad outfit) that intrigues Kit, but eventually he dismisses him from his shortlist. When Polzin heads upstairs for a meeting, he follows to ensure his security protocols are in place.
When Polzin leaves, Will follows. He’s ready to attack, but his plans are thwarted when Kit discovers him first. When he traps Will, he can’t quite believe it’s the handsome man in black while Will experiences an even bigger shock of his own. Polzin’s girlfriend, the beautiful and bored woman on his arm at the party, is a man and he’s the bodyguard/assassin.
I don’t want to give too much away in this review, but suffice it to say this first encounter doesn’t unfold the way either man expects and sets the tone for their first few encounters. Kit doesn’t pull the trigger, Will doesn’t fight back, and the smoking hot sexual tension between them builds as they stand pressed against each other. The scene is explicit and intense, and neither man quite understands what’s happening between them. We don’t either – it’s insane! Will’s PoV, as he slowly reveals what lies beneath Kit’s dress, strikes just the right balance of confused and aroused, while Kit – whose steely nerves and smug demeanor never falter – nearly comes undone at Will’s submission. Only Kit’s quick thinking allows Will to escape the room – but both men emerge from the experience wondering what the hell just happened and when they’ll face each other again.
The relationship between Will and Kit starts out as two men trying and failing to kill one another (because their crazy lust keeps getting in the way), but evolves into a love affair. Will keeps trying to kill Polzin and Kit keeps trying to stop him – but neither one seems willing or able to kill each other. They can’t resist their attraction and resistance proves futile – and hot. Kit dominates, Will submits, and neither one can understand why. Using his agency connections, Will ultimately discovers Kit’s identity, and after piecing together his backstory, he tracks him to an empty London apartment. Kit can’t believe his eyes when he spots Will at his hideaway. Awkwardness gives way to affection and before long the men are sharing their backstories and tenderly making love.
Kit’s motivation for protecting Polzin is a tangled web, but with Will’s help, he begins to see it in a different light. Hidden away in Kit’s apartment, they form a plan to move forward together. Kit needs Polzin alive, Will still wants him dead – but they agree to a compromise that allows them to try to get what they both want. Their mission is clear, but their relationship less so. Finally finding someone and something worth living for is unexpected, and neither man knows how to handle or admit it. So they don’t.
I liked the contrast between Kit and Will very much, and each man is appealing for different reasons. Kit is a delicious mix of haughty, arrogant and lethal – in my mind he’s a sexy James Bond type. He tries not to like Will, but Will relentlessly pursues him and his submission is disarming. Will is big, blunt, tough and single minded in his desire to kill Polzin, but he falls hard for Kit. He can’t quite understand why he’s willing to submit to him, and his intense attraction to Kit’s androgynous beauty confuses him. But he can’t stay away and doesn’t. Although I wanted to buy into the deadly hitman persona Ms. Chambers and Ms. Martin are trying to sell, Will comes across as fundamentally good and true. His honest affection for Kit and unwillingness to back away from his feelings even when Kit tries to push him away, are lovely.
As the book nears its end, Kit’s backstory and the reason he’s spent years killing on behalf of Polzin, shift to the forefront. I liked Kit’s storyline, Will’s revenge quest, and the relationship. Unfortunately, the big reveal about Polzin… well, after all the lead-up to the truth, it’s anticlimactic, and I guessed what was coming fairly on. During the final, bloody confrontation, things don’t unfold quite as one might expect, and the writers put us through the wringer one last time before we eventually get a sweet happily ever for this twisted, jaded pair. When it ended, I just wanted to read the whole thing over again.
Enemies Like You is hugely entertaining and I loved its unapologetic embrace of ‘the crazy.’ The premise, that two deadly assassins can’t kill each other because they’re so overcome with lust every time they’re together, should be ridiculous. And it is. But I didn’t care. I liked everything about it, and I only wish the ending was stronger. I hope Ms. Chambers and Martin revisit these characters again soon.