I have a lot of unread books on my kindle, but I still went looking for new books in the Amazon Prime library last night. I clicked on Kristen Callihan’s Dear Enemy, which I remembered hearing about, but I couldn’t remember what I heard. I decided to read a few pages before bed just to see if I wanted to read it. Hours later I was almost half way through and showed no signs of stopping. With a couple of breaks for naps, I finished the book in what would normally (if there is such a thing as “normally” anymore) have been my sleep hours. I’m a bit wrecked.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. On the positive side, Kristen Callihan writes extremely readable romances. The story is ridiculous, but she hooks into the lizard part of my brain and keeps me reading. Macon and Delilah were childhood enemies. Macon dated her sister throughout their teen years, and the two of them made Delilah miserable. After a humiliating prank at prom, Delilah and Macon don’t see each other again for ten years.
For complicated reasons that even they know don’t really make sense, Delilah and Macon choose to be forced into proximity with one another. They fight and bicker and in the process of doing so, clear the air and give them space to build a relationship as adults. Macon doesn’t fully understand the damage he has done to Delilah, but he does own his actions and apologize for them, while also giving her an understanding of why he was such a shit to her.
Even as I found myself unable to put the book down, I was also deeply uncomfortable with the real life implications of a romance between these people with terrible boundaries. There is an explicit conversation between Delilah, her mother and a friend of the family about the old “he must like you” excuse for abusive behavior from boys. They all agree that that is unacceptable, and yet, that is exactly the excuse Mason has for his bad behavior towards Delilah. My past life experience tells me that in times of stress, people will revert beck to bad behavior even if they know it’s harmful, especially if they haven’t spent time in therapy working on healthier coping mechanisms. Mason and Delilah are a parade of red flags and as responsible as I think Callihan wanted to be, I think she still threw a sheen of romance on an unhealthy relationship.