Title: “Enemy of the King”
Author: Beth Trissel
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre(s): historical fiction, historical romance
Part of a Series: No
Why I read it: Because I had read Ms. Trissel’s other works.
Summary: Set during the Carolina Campaign in 1780, Enemy of the King centers around Meri, a young Loyalist who is being cared for by family friend Jeremiah. When his house is descended upon by British soldiers, Meri learns that her friend is leading Patriot forces in the area. She attacks a British officer to protect Jeremiah and flees with him into the Carolinian wilderness. They are pursued by the British and Meri has to fight for her life and Jeremiah’s—the man she’s come to love. But beside the British, Meri has another foe to face: the specter of Jeremiah’s deceased wife, Rachel.
Review: “Enemy of the King” is an engaging read. It draws the reader in until the very end.
Meri is quite the heroine, with one quibble: She’s supposedly a staunch Loyalist yet has no problem attacking a British officer within the first chapter or so of the story. With only a few moments of lip service, it doesn’t seem that Meri is really a Loyalist after all. She doesn’t seem to have a stake in the fight until Jeremiah gives her a reason to have one. Meri will fight to keep him safe and alive, for if he were to be caught, he’d be hanged as a traitor. And she is a fighting dynamo when pushed, earning the respect of Jeremiah’s men.
And now, Jeremiah. Oh, Jeremiah. He’s a great romance novel hero: Strong and confident yet loving and gentle. He’s a man who commands respect and his men love him. He is a capable fighter and believes in his cause passionately. But when it comes to matters of his heart, he’s a bit of a waffler. While he’s in love with Meri, he waivers between wanting to be with her and wanting to stay away from her. It gets annoying after awhile but thankfully it doesn’t last too much past that point. Some of the wavering is due to Jeremiah’s position as a wanted man and leader of the Patriot forces. Most of it though is due to his dead wife.
Yes, Jeremiah’s dead wife—Rachel. I have read Ms. Trissel’s works before and they do tend to include a paranormal feel. This one, I believe, is trying to evoke the feel of Daphne duMaurier’s “Rebecca.” Rachel is supposed to haunt the story, haunting Meri and Jeremiah’s relationship. But it just dragged down the story to me. Jeremiah’s feelings for Rachel are too conflicting and it’s hard to know how the reader is supposed to feel. There are times where Rachel is this perfect being whom Jeremiah loved with his whole heart. And then there are times where Rachel was a cold wife who slept in a separate room from her husband and it is implied they never had sex. In this scenario, I think more about their married life was needed and not given. It did not reach the mystique of “Rebecca.”
Ms. Trissel creates a great setting. She paints a vivid picture of the Carolinian wilderness. The sights, the smells, the sounds. And she creates a setting of danger. The British lurk around every corner and could attack at any time. When they do, it’s fast-paced and thrilling. Kudos to Ms. Trissel; action scenes are hard to write.
Bottom line: Excellent Revolutionary War adventure and romance if you ignore the paranormal stuff.
Sex: A few scenes, nothing too much.
Must a former lover be vilified for a romance to work?