Saturday, January 8, 2011

Intimate Enemies by Shana Abé

Book Description:
An exquisitely emotional, beautifully written novel about two warring clans on a Scottish isle united by a fragile pact... and the hearts of two unforgettable lovers.  Lauren MacRae is only a woman. But her father's death has left her the leader of the Clan MacRae. Now it is up to her to defend her beloved Isle of Shot from the invading Northmen, even if it means going to her clan's sworn enemy, the powerful English overlord, Arion du Morgan, for help. But Arion's raven hair, green eyes, and smoldering sensuality soon make Lauren forget just why she turned to him - as he awakens within her a wayward desire....

Like Lauren, Arion risks the mutiny of his soldiers by forming this risky alliance. But he was brought up to believe that the Isle of Shot belongs not to the Clan MacRae, but to England - and he will defend it to his dying breath. Once, when they were children, Arion saved Lauren from a tortuous fate. Now, the copper-haired beauty has somehow found a way to banish the emptiness in his soul. And as they join forces to fight for the land they both love, he will risk everything - even his very life - to claim what is his.

I'm afraid this medieval romance hardly did anything for me, although the premise was interesting.  Two warring factions share a small island off the coast of Scotland.  Technically, it belongs to England (under the rule of Henry II) but for all intents and purposes it's Scottish.   The Clan MacRae is currently led by the daughter of it's recently slain laird.  Lauren is fearless and resourceful - but a woman.  During these dangerous times with Vikings storming and raiding her island, there is only so much she can do.  And do she must or else all will perish in the next Viking raid.  What a coincidence that this is the second Scottish medieval I've read in less than a month that deals with Vikings and their deadly raids!  Unfortunately, this one wasn't nearly as good as On a Highland Shore.

In order to defeat the Vikings and withstand their attacks, the plan is to join forces with the English side of the island, led by Arion du Morgan.  Together, the two sides that have been bitter enemies for ages, can defeat the Vikings, divided they will fail.   Lauren wants to save her beloved Island of Shot, but will her clan go along with the idea?  Or will their pride insure their death?

Lauren and Arion share a past together.  Once, long ago, he rescued her from certain death at the hands of his uncle who was holding her hostage as a little girl.  Arion freed her from his uncle's dungeon and allowed her to return to her home in safety.  Now, thrown together under these dire circumstances due to the Viking threat, Lauren and Arion find they are tantalizingly attracted to one another as well.  With a Romeo and Juliet theme to the story, they know nothing good can come of it - their backgrounds do not mix.  Lauren is betrothed to another allied laird, she must fulfil her late father's wish of joining their two clans together with a marriage.  Yet, she longs for the arms and kisses of Arion - an Englishman, anathema to her clan.  It doesn't help that when she finally meets her betrothed, he turns out to be a worse than she ever imagined.  A villain in disguise.  She is torn, go with her heart to Arion and lose all that she knows, her friends and family - or marry for her clan's sake and be unhappy for the rest of her life?

I won't spoil the ending, but there was lots of action, battle scenes and some tender moments between Lauren and Arion.  But for the most part, I found the their actual relationship went only skin deep.  I didn't particularly like or care much about Lauren, I found there seemed to be a surprising lack of depth and emotion about her.  Arion seemed to be better drawn, I was more sympathetic towards him.  Despite these flaws, I thought the battle scenes were well done.  Still, this is supposed to be a romance, isn't it? 

Btw, this was my final book in my 2010 TBR Challenge!



Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I share your opinion. Thought I was the only one who didn't fall in love with it. I'd actually give the book a 2/5. After reading some great reviews I expected great things this book - read it a couple years ago, I think, but I was quite disappointed.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I'd had it on my TBR list forever and I too had heard such great things - yes, it was a disappointment. Took me forever to get through and didn't hold my interest. I felt like slapping Lauren most of the time!

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