My Enchanted Enemy
Tracy Fobes’ latest release is an enjoyable love story with generally likable characters, though it’s somewhat marred by a low believability factor. It’s been said that one should be able to suspend their disbelief, but not have to hang it by the neck until dead. My Enchanted Enemy hovers perilously close to that line, and may well cross over it for some. Nonetheless, I was able to ignore my strangling disbelief long enough to enjoy this paranormal historical romance.
Juliana St. Germaine is the daughter of a cursed family, enchanted centuries before by a gypsy woman from whom Juliana’s ancestor had stolen a magical pearl. The curse specifies that the St. Germaines will leave land and abide in the sea as “sea people” – half human, half dolphin, merfolk-style – for as long as the witch’s gypsy bloodline runs pure. For centuries, the St. Germaines (who can come ashore with legs for brief periods of time) have tried in vain to seduce members of the Strangford gypsy clan. But now, time runs short, as only one remaining Strangford is still young enough to reproduce. And it is Juliana’s duty to her clan to get pregnant by him, and thus mingle their bloodlines, thereby forever freeing her people from the sea.
Cole Strangford finds himself bullied by his uncle Gillie into finding a wife. Gillie is deeply concerned that Cole, as the sole Strangford heir, will be tricked and seduced by one of the St. Germaines in disguise. For centuries, everyone in the family has worried that the sea people will return to land to exact their revenge on the gypsies. His solution is to marry Cole off as quickly as possible to a suitable Romany lass (to keep the bloodline pure), and in the process get an heir to carry on the family name. Cole is less enthusiastic about the plan, but is unwillingly enchanted when he meets Juliana, masquerading as a gypsy maiden. Despite “proof” that she’s not one of the feared sea people, Cole has his suspicions, but is willing to set them aside in light of his growing attraction to Juliana. But her fragile plan could fall apart at any minute. Can their equally fragile love survive?
Juliana is suitably charming, if desperate and conflicted, and Cole is a good match. His honor, loyalty, and caring reflect her own, and their chemistry flares up immediately. In addition, Juliana’s brother George – who perpetrates a parallel scam to keep Cole’s real prospective bride from showing up (with predictable results) – is a likable guy who probably should have gotten a book of his own. As it was, the switching off between Juliana and Cole’s courtship, and George’s own maneuverings was distracting, despite its necessity to the plot.
The believability issues mainly arise from Juliana and George’s amazing ability to function perfectly as landwalkers, despite having spent their lives beneath the waves. Neither ever has any problems fitting perfectly into landwalker culture, without a single faux pas. In addition, the lack of difficulty in obtaining detailed information and access to the ever-vigilant Strangfords’ correspondence – without once setting off any alarms – is a little difficult to swallow. Then there’s the resolution of the plot, in which centuries of conflict evaporate and multiple deceits are forgiven.
However, as a whole, this was an enjoyable read, with likable characters, and a unique, if not entirely credible plot. It makes me inclined to hope for better in the future from Ms. Fobes. I have a feeling it will be worth the wait.