My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My Beautiful Enemy is the first historical romance I have read by Sherry Thomas and I have to say I will absolutely read more. I have read her YA Fantasy and loved it so I’m not at all surprised that I enjoyed this story. Yes, it is definitely a different genre but Thomas does a wonderful job of developing these characters and I loved that this book didn’t fall into the standard historical romance formula.
Catherine Blade is new to England and on a mission. She is hunting down two jade tablets that someone she knew had in his possession. Unfortunately when he passed away, she had no idea where to find them and her hunt has led her to England. As her ship docks and her travel companions bring her with them ashore, she ends up face to face with the only man she has ever loved…and lost.
I liked Catherine. As a woman growing up in 19th century China, she clearly is not considered your normal young woman. She is a fighter and independent but as the step-daughter of a very influential man, she is kept locked away for a good portion of her life. When she finally does get the opportunity to spread her wings, she crosses paths with someone she refers to as the “Persian” (if you didn’t guess, this is Leighton) and eventually they come to rely on each other…and then fall in love. The challenge is that they both have secrets and as they make assumptions and/or find more out about the other, they end up making decisions that impact the rest of their lives.
As I mentioned, Catherine is tough and when she does realize she loves the Persian, she is willing to give up everything she has ever known for him. She is loyal and despite the bravado she has, she is also vulnerable and I was right there with her for all the ups and downs she experienced.
Trust me when I say there is a lot going on in this story. As I mentioned, Catherine is on a mission but she also has an assassin tracking and threatening her. At the same time, when she runs into her “Persian”/Leighton she is dealing with all of the emotions that come with that reunion. Due to some circumstances around their split, Catherine never thought she would see him again. In addition to all of this, she is faced with the fact that the man she has always loved, is now engaged to another woman who, although she is friendly, is definitely not a fan of their covert conversations.
I don’t want to give everything away here so I won’t say much more but I have to say I loved how Thomas wove current time together with the chapters from the past. It really showed how Catherine/Ying Ying and Leighton ended up meeting and eventually ending up in love. It also gave just enough background to show me why they both faced the challenges they did. If there was one thing I wanted to know more about, it was Leighton’s backstory. Thomas told us how he ended up living with his uncle while his younger brother left with his mother, but I wanted to know more about why that was the case…hopefully I didn’t just miss it. Maybe just a minor plot point but still, I was confused as to why this was the case.
Another thing I enjoyed was how Thomas takes the reader to China and India versus just basing this in England. Based on my limited exposure, it seems very rare that historical romance ventures into these locations and it was great to learn more about those locations/cultures.
If you enjoy historical romance, definitely check this one out. Sherry Thomas creates some interesting characters who face some pretty daunting challenges while still keeping the “romance” feel to it. I loved the layers Thomas created within this story and look forward to reading more of her books from this genre.
Thank you to Netgalley and Berkley Romance for the review copy.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars