REVIEW: Secret Enemy by Katie Reus
Dear Katie Reus,
I’ve read most of your Red Stone Security series and enjoyed them so I was happy to have the chance to read the latest installment. The books are generally about category length and can be read fairly quickly and have a good balance between the romance and the suspense aspects of the story.
The link to Red Stone Security in Secret Enemy is indirect; Mila has just started working there and Lyosha’s boss’s wife also works there but the firm has very little to do with the actual plot.
Lyosha met Mila at an animal shelter where she volunteers, having adopted a rescue kitten he’d found. He was immediately drawn to Mila and they became firm friends. Mila always wanted more but Lyosha has her squarely friend-zoned. Because readers have the benefit of Lyosha’s POV as well as Mila’s we know that Lyosha thinks he’s not good enough for Mila and that’s why he hasn’t made a move. Still, he can’t bring himself to stay away and as a result they’ve been in a weird holding pattern. In reality they behave a lot like romantic partners with each other, except without anything physical between them. He’s even met her entire family. It’s clear to anyone with eyes that they’re more than friends. It’s notable that neither of them are looking elsewhere for a romantic partner.
Lyosha was previously involved in some kind of criminal enterprise (Russian mafia style maybe? It wasn’t specified in this book), but then his boss and friend Viktor was able to take over from Viktor’s father and transform the organisation so that it is now legitimate. Lyosha is in charge of Viktor’s security but he also seems to be independently wealthy. I guess his previous activities generated a lot of income? Lyosha is now mostly lawful but when necessary and to protect those he loves, he’s willing to skirt the rules.
Mila is working for Red Stone Security in their marketing area so she has no involvement in security work.
One night after a not-date, they kiss and Mila thinks “finally!” but then Lyosha bolts and ghosts her for a week because he can’t deal with his conflicting emotions. To her credit, Mila, though hurt, doesn’t pine for him. She decides that she’s going to live her life and get on with things. If Lyosha doesn’t want her she won’t beg and she won’t waste away. She’s sad but determined to move on. Go Mila.
But then an old foe of Lyosha’s threatens Mila, and he goes into ultra-protector mode and moves her into his home so he can keep her safe. Again to her credit, Mila does not do anything stupid like refuse his help. She’s a practical woman. There was more than one occasion when she made very smart decisions which many a romantic suspense heroine could learn from in fact.
At Lyosha’s place, he finally gives into his feelings. He just can’t, in the words of REO Speedwagon, fight this feeling anymore.
To find their HEA, Lyosha has to neutralise the threat against both he and Mila and accept that he is worthy of the love of his found family, including Mila.
The suspense plot is fairly OTT and things move quickly. I had the sense that the suspense was more a vehicle for the romance than a story in itself and, as much as I like the high romance quotient in your romance, this time the other part of the novel didn’t hold together as well. The romance itself moved very quickly – there really was very little keeping them apart right from the beginning but Lyosha’s turnaround from rejecting a relationship to being all in was a little too quick and underdeveloped.
While Secret Enemy wasn’t my favourite of the series, there were things to like, including a tough guy hero who loves to cook and who’s head over heels for his lady and pretty squishy about his little cat, Nala. And Mila made good choices all the way through the book for extra bonus points.