August 26, 2014
"Put on a happy face
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face..."
Ah yes, a happy face - you all know what that is, don't you? Its a frown turned upside down!
Evidently, the two main characters in this book didn't know that because these were two of the most depressing characters I've read about in a long time. No knock knock jokes coming out of their mouths.
Sherry Thomas is one of my favorite authors. Her writing is always beautiful, elegant, and well-thought out. In the case of My Beautiful Enemy, all of that is still there. It was just that the characters of Catherine, aka Ying-Ying, and Leighton were such sober characters I wanted to scream, "lighten-up!"
On top of that there were a number of moments filled with martial arts. I'm not a big fan of martial art films - once you've see one crouching dragon in slow motion you've seen them all - regardless of the photographic beauty. I must say the same about reading about kicks, flips, chops, hops, and swinging. I admit I did the same with these parts of the book that I do when there pages and pages of one sex scene - skip read. Too bad an author wrote all those lovely words just to have me skip over them. But reading about any kind of fighting in a book, whether its with a sword or the side of a hand, just isn't interesting to me. And actually, I would have to say this is more of an adventure story then it is a romance.
Then we have flashbacks. I don't normally mind flashbacks, I actually quite enjoy them, if they add to the story. The problem I had with the flashbacks in My Beautiful Enemy was just when Catherine and Leighton were connecting I was jerked back to their past. At least half of the book is told through flashbacks.
There is a prequel which I purchased halfway through reading the book. I understand that it adds quite a bit of character development to My Beautiful Enemy. I question as to why it wasn't included in the full length book because Leighton and Catherine were both in need of more character development.
So, while I still greatly admire Sherry Thomas and this book was full of lovely prose, the characters of Catherine and Leighton lacked romantic chemistry and were both too humorless for me. As much as I love Sherry Thomas' work, My Beautiful Enemy didn't work for me.
Time/Place: 1880-1890s England/China/Turkestan