Sleeping With Her Enemy
Did I buy this book because of the attractive East Asian man on the cover? Reader, I did. Was I disappointed? Reader, I was not.
Amy Morrison has everything on track – a successful real estate career, a doctor fiancé named Mason, and the perfect three-bedroom house in a great Toronto neighborhood just waiting for them to move in and start their family. Until, that is, the fiancé leaves her at the altar, and Amy flees to her office, where, since everyone else is at the wedding, she’ll have privacy. Except she didn’t invite her 49th floor enemy, CEO Dax Harris, so it’s Dax who finds Amy breaking down in tears. In the spirit of the unusual occasion, Dax curbs his caustic tongue, and takes Amy out to drown her sorrows. Suddenly, these two enemies realize there’s more to like about each other than they ever realized.
I enjoyed Amy’s complexity. She flips between competence under pressure and uncertainty and vulnerability in other contexts, which is more truthful to me than heroines who are all badass, all the time. Her hobby of residential real estate (her job is commercial) is useful to the plot but also consistent with her planner mentality, plus it shows that the author has a stronger grip on Amy’s industry than most authors who write generic ‘developing company’. It also lets us explore in depth the Toronto setting, from Dax’s home on the quirky Ward’s Island to a condo development at the Shops at Don Mills.
As for Dax, he is a tech squillionaire, and while there’s more discussion of what his company develops than in some books, it’s not especially detailed. He is a nice Beta hero though, and I like a hero who is close to his family. He is biracial Chinese and white British and takes after his dad, which means, you guessed it, non-brown eyes (Dax’s are green, and for a more thorough read on why this is off-putting, see this great blog post from Writing with Color). However, I enjoyed the character of his mother, who reminded me a lot of the older Chinese women in my life. His sister Kat, who is in the middle of becoming a single mother via IVF, is also a rounded, interesting character.
The first weak spot in the book is that Amy is over her wedding jilt way too quickly. Maybe she doesn’t love Mason, but that just makes being jilted less awful, not totally fine. The second thing that really bothered me was Dax’s Big Reason I Can’t Date, which I simply have to warn you is about suicide. It was shallowly developed and served the plot rather than explored the issue with sensitivity or nuance. It also means that the forces keeping Amy and Dax apart lack tension, since you just have to wait for Dax to decide he will move on.
The book is very strong on consent, which is important to me. When Dax takes Amy out on her wedding night, she gets drunk and wants to pick up a man because she has only slept with her fiancé for the last seven years. Not only does Dax refuse to be intimate with her, but he is also a wingman for her in this vulnerable state, taking her home to protect her from a less scrupulous man. Later, when Amy and Dax are getting physical, Amy becomes panicked, and Dax immediately backs off and shifts his focus to emotional support.
I enjoyed Jenny Holiday’s Bridesmaids Behaving Badly quartet, another set of Toronto-based contemps. If you’re a fan of those, or of contemporary romance in general, Sleeping With Her Enemy is a strong and solid read.