Friday, 30 October 2015

Review: Sleeping with Her Enemy by Jenny Holiday

4 stars

In a review several months ago, I blasted the current trend in contemporary romances to a) have a power imbalance between hero and heroine, with the hero often being the heroine's boss, and b) construct these so there is an element of coercion or non-consent. I was so fed up with this that I stopped reading contemporaries all together. 

I'd bought Sleeping with Her Enemy by Jenny Holiday at the same time as I bought That Other Book, and it has sat on unopened my Kindle ever since, tainted by association, and by my concern at the implications of the last few lines of its synopsis. Dax and Amy are office enemies until one day Dax comes across Amy weeping because she's just been left at the altar. The blurb ends:
Dax can't help but feel badly when he sees Amy mid-meltdown. Next thing he knows, he's gotten her good and drunk, and they're making out like two teenagers. And since neither of them want anything serious, why shouldn't they be frenemies-with-benefits?
After I lost my patience with contemporaries, I looked at this and I was like "Umm, because she JUST GOT JILTED AND SHE'S DRUNK". Then yesterday, I was doing some Kindle spring-cleaning and, having forgotten my initial objections, started to read. 

I'm glad I gave it a shot, because Sleeping with Her Enemy was sweet and funny and hot. Not only were my suspicions about the hero unjustified, Dax is up there with Rafe from The Shameless Hour as one of the most upstanding romance novel blokes ever. Example A is in the exact scene that is described above, where Amy is drunk and trying to get Dax to take her home for her (not) wedding night:
Although she'd never believe it, he did have some principles. Well, one: consent was essential, and since consent couldn't reliably be given when under the influence, he made it a practice to deflect the advances of any woman more than a little tipsy.
*feminist swoon* 

In short, Dax was a gem and I have a serious case of lovelust. But us mere mortal girls never had a chance, because Amy was a snarky red-lipped, vintage fashion-loving babe. She was a bit of a hot mess - but never too much - and she and Dax shared a wicked sense of humour, which is not as common as I'd like it to be in contemporaries. I also related to the fact that Amy's grief was at losing the life she had planned for herself, rather than at losing her fiancee. This made her desire to have a fling with Dax much more understandable. They declare a temporary ceasefire, but the heat starts rising and they find themselves circling closer and closer to a relationship. However, it was not until the final pages of the book that they formally became a couple, and I would have liked to see an epilogue that provided a glimpse into their lives together. 

After finishing Sleeping with Her Enemy, I looked at the other two books in the same series. Neither stood out very much, but I am certain, like Sleeping with Her Enemy, the blurbs don't do them justice. So I'll read them, because I've learnt from my mistake and now trust Jenny Holiday's ability to spin gold from straw.

How could I not when she writes so wonderfully, and her alter ego on Twitter is the hilarious Trope Heroine, who thumbs her nose at (unimaginative) romance novels? And who also thinks the whole emotionally unstable boss-hero thing has gone a bit far: 

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