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Intimate Enemies

Intimate Enemies

4.1 18
by Shana Abe

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From Shana Abé, author of The Truelove Bride and A Kiss at Midnight, comes this exquisitely emotional, beautifully written novel about two warring clans on a Scottish isle united by a fragile pact... and the hearts of two unforgettable lovers.

Lauren MacRae is only a woman. But her father's death has left her the leader of the Clan MacRae.


From Shana Abé, author of The Truelove Bride and A Kiss at Midnight, comes this exquisitely emotional, beautifully written novel about two warring clans on a Scottish isle united by a fragile pact... and the hearts of two unforgettable lovers.

Lauren MacRae is only a woman. But her father's death has left her the leader of the Clan MacRae. Now it is up to her to defend her beloved Isle of Shot from the invading Northmen, even if it means going to her clan's sworn enemy, the powerful English overlord, Arion du Morgan, for help. But Arion's raven hair, green eyes, and smoldering sensuality soon make Lauren forget just why she turned to him—as he awakens within her a wayward desire....

Like Lauren, Arion risks the mutiny of his soldiers by forming this risky alliance. But he was brought up to believe that the Isle of Shot belongs not to the Clan MacRae, but to England—and he will defend it to his dying breath. Once, when they were children, Arion saved Lauren from a tortuous fate. Now, the copper-haired beauty has somehow found a way to banish the emptiness in his soul. And as they join forces to fight for the land they both love, he will risk everything—even his very life—to claim what is his.

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Kathe Robin
Shana Abe has created an unforgettable pair of star-crossed lovers caught in an age-old feud, while beautifully evoking the misty isle and the historical backdrop. She truly makes us believe we are part of this wonderous tale.
Romantic Times
Kathy B. Leitle
Shana Abe's newest title, Intimate Enemies, had me performing a cliché. As I read the last third of the book, I realized I was actually sitting on the edge of my seat. This gripping story of a Scottish clanswoman and an English lord contains the ingredients necessary for a first rate romance.

Lauren MacRae is the only child of the Laird of the MacRae Clan. Her father raised her as if she were a male heir. She has learned how to use weapons, to ride like a boy, and how to negotiate with and lead the clan. Their clan claims the Isle of Shot. The English Lord du Morgan also claims the same isle. The two groups have settled into an uneasy arrangement with each side living on half of the isle.

Lauren particularly dislikes Lord Ryder du Morgan because he kidnapped her when she was eight and held her as a bargaining tool. Ryder's nephew and heir, Arion, helped her escape from that confinement before his uncle could seriously hurt her. The two of them make a connection at that time, but Lauren still considers all du Morgans as enemies.

Twelve years later, Arion is now the Lord after his cruel uncle's death. When a much larger band of raiding Vikings ambushes his men, a group of MacRae warriors attacks the Vikings. Through a haze, Arion witnesses a woman warrior strike down the Viking who would have killed him. When he reawakens, he is recuperating under guard in the clan stronghold.

With her father dead and her cousin, Quinn, the new laird, in a coma from another Viking attack, Lauren has been standing in as the laird. Seeing Arion again proves unsettling. She still hates du Morgans, but is confused by her strong reaction to him. Arion is nothing like his uncle. He is greatly attracted to Lauren and keeps her off balance with his wit and humor. He even proposes that the Scots and the English join forces to fight the Vikings who will surely overrun the isle if the two communities do not support each other. Lauren is very reluctant, but sees it as the only option to save the people she loves and leads.

As the two leaders work to hold together the alliance between longtime enemies, they come to know each other become closer. But Lauren is awaiting the arrival of the fiancé her Father chose for her when she was eight years old, and honor demands that she marry the man.

Lauren and Arion are fully developed characters. Lauren has all the characteristics of an honorable person; loyalty, courage, compassion. She also has doubts about her abilities and is stung by remarks she overhears about her unladylike behavior. Her sense of duty helps her resist her growing feelings for the English lord.

Arion is the hero we all want in our lives. He has worked hard to repair the damage his uncle's cruelty had done to the people under him. He managed to keep his humor and sense of what is right. Although he wants to protect Lauren in difficult situations, he realizes that she needs to be in charge of her actions and allows her to work with him in dangerous situations.

The excitement in Intimate Enemies comes from all of the various tensions that build throughout the story. There is the sexual tension between Lauren and Arion, the internal tension between Lauren and some of the members of her clan who don't like working with the English, and the tension of waiting and not knowing when or if the Vikings are going to attack again.

And once Lauren’s fiancé Murdoch arrives a whole different kind of tension is involved. He is not exactly the person that he presents to the clan. Only Lauren is shown his true colors and must decide how to deal with this threat. Abe weaves all of these elements carefully so that they are clear, but flow faster and faster to a solid and satisfying ending. A large exhale is necessary after that scene.

Intimate Enemies is a compelling story. Lauren and Arion are tender and tough, funny and poignant, and above all, honorable to their followers and to each other. Don't miss this fine tale.
The Romance Reader
Candy Tan
Abé's books often feel more like dreamy, violent adult fairy tales than actual medievals, so the love story seems to take place as much in the metaphysical plane as it does in the physical. The chemistry between Arion and Lauren is instantaneous and almost mystical; crackling, tangible; it's this interaction that saves the book from mediocrity. These two may be enemies (and they are antagonistic towards each other in the beginning of the book), but generally they treat one another with a respect and tenderness that's refreshing in a romance of this kind. When I closed the book, I had no doubt that they were soulmates.

Those of you who, like me, can't stand Adversarial Romances: don't let the word "enemies" fool you. This book is all about love.
From the Publisher
"Historical romance at its finest." —Jill Marie Landis

"Shana Abé writes with intense, unforgettable emotion."—Jane Feather

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One 

  ENGLAND , 1165 

 Lauren didn’t know another name for it, this menacing room, all thick stone walls and no windows and the smell of death hanging in the air. 

She didn’t know where exactly it was, this place, this room. But the people here had peculiar clothing and glittering eyes. They were all men—big, angry men— who looked down and through her, as if she were not really here in the scary place but just her ghost was, and they had caught a glimpse of the Lauren-ghost hiding in the dark corners. 

She wished that it were true, that she wasn’t really here. She wished it were just her ghost trapped here in the shadows, and not she herself. 

They hated her. That was clear. They said her name in loud, jeering voices.They tossed in food to her carelessly, letting it slop on the floor. They gave her water that turned her stomach, that tasted like sweat. 

There was no pallet to rest on. No furniture of any kind, in fact, although one of the walls had long, heavy chains hanging down from iron pegs embedded in the stone. Otherwise, there was only a single blanket, filthy and torn, crawling with unpleasantness. She left it crumpled in one of the corners, by the chains. 

Lauren didn’t know how long she had been here— days? Weeks? She almost didn’t remember how she had come here. She had been out with Da, she remembered that. He had taken her from Shot for the very first time in her life, to celebrate her eighth birthday. Da and she and a group of men had gotten on the largest ship they had and sailed to the mainland, to visit their friends there: Clan MacBain, allied with Clan Baird, allied with Clan Ramsay, allied with Clan Murdoch, allied with Clan Colquhoun. . . . 

An ally was a friend, she knew that. Da had many friends. 

And he had been so proud of her. Lauren had behaved properly on the voyage over. She had avoided the masts and the rigging and not caused any trouble at all, just as she knew he expected of her. The sky had been as bright as bluebells, clear and warm. The ocean wind had felt wonderful on her face, as always—clean, alive. She had loved the voyage, the water rushing past her in joyous tones and vibrant colors. She was almost sad when they docked at the mainland, but that had been overridden by the excitement of everything else. 

Da, leading her off the boat to the green land before them, holding her hand. Hugs all around, people exclaiming over her, the shade of her hair—exactly like her mother’s, they had said. Her smile—the image of the laird’s, they said. Like Da’s. Happy voices and helpful hands leading her forward into them, to the village beyond the docks. 

Since they were the friends of her own clan, she had felt no reservations at all in chatting with them, letting them admire her and admiring them in return. Da walked beside her, talking in his low, gravelly voice, and it had seemed to Lauren MacRae that in that moment the world was simply a perfect place. She had her father, she had these new friends, she had her home back on Shot and the blue sky above her, and what could be finer than any of that? 

Then it had happened. While they were still walking, before they could even reach the heart of the village, the bad men had come.They had swift horses and maces and swords, and Da and the rest had raced around, shouting. Hands yanked at her, pulling her this way and that, and it was all so confusing. She couldn’t see anything but legs and horses, everything and everyone were so much taller than she. 

Da had been howling her name, and she had shouted back, trying to run to him. But then someone new took her, one of the bad men. He had clamped a hand over her mouth and lifted her up high onto his horse with him. Now she could see everything, all right, all the chaos and the fighting and the savage dances of the swords and maces of the different men. She even caught a glimpse of Da, battling furiously with three of the bad men, still turning his head to search for her. She had screamed from behind the hand over her mouth. And then they had ridden away and she had been helpless to escape, though she had tried very hard. She had bitten the man who held her; she had struggled and kicked even though she was on a very tall horse, and falling to the ground would probably hurt a lot. The man holding her had muttered something and then there was a flashing pain on the side of her head, and then . . . 

Lauren had woken up here. 

It was cold and damp and had frightening black shadows, and no one would answer any of her questions. 

It hadn’t mattered if she asked politely, as Hannah had taught her, or if she yelled and called them names, cursing them with all the words she had secretly learned from eavesdropping on the stableboys. The men here would not speak to her. They would not even look at her, hunched up in her corner. 

Except for one. Except for one boy. 

He had come in with the laird—at least Lauren thought it was the laird, although she had not heard him called that. The odd laird was dressed as strangely as all the others, with no tartan at all, but rather a very elaborate tunic, with many colors and fancy stitchwork all over it.Yet for all the fanciness, Lauren was not fooled: This man was the cause of the death stench. It came from him, it washed out and away from him, rushing over to her in splintering waves. 

As he walked into the cell, one of the guards bowed to him and called him “milord du Morgan.” As soon as Lauren heard that name, she knew she was going to die here in the scary place. 

The du Morgans were the clan of the devil. Everyone knew that. 

The du Morgan devil had come into her prison with nothing but a sneer on his face and foul words on his lips, carrying that stench. Like all the other men, he had not looked directly at her, but rather around her, at her hair, at her clothing, at her hands. The boy walked in slowly behind him, masked with the same murky darkness that consumed the rest of the room. 

Lauren stood up tall and tried not to tremble, for Da wouldn’t want her to show any fear to the devil. “Chin up,” Da would have said. “Look him straight in the eye, Lauren.You’re a MacRae.You bow to no one.” So she had stiffened her spine and glared up at the devil, though inside her stomach had been all shivery and her fingers and toes felt like ice. 

And the devil had stood in front of her and talked about her—not to her, about her—to the lad behind him, who had stood silent, with an air of unhappiness shrouding him. 

“Pathetic,” ridiculed the devil, squinting his narrow demon eyes at her. “Notice well, Arion, the surly demeanor of it. Notice well the pagan color of its hair, the paleness of its skin. It is an inferior creature, all in all. Hardly worth the effort of securing it.” 

Lauren realized that she was the “it” in his words. She kept her head up, eyes forward, just as Da would have told her to. 

the devil smirked, making her name sound long and drawn out, a distortion of the syllables. “This is all they have to unite with their allies, this dismal female. And see how it quakes, Arion. See the weakness of its stock. Our enemy has come to a sad end indeed, to pin their hopes on this wretched child.” “I am not quaking,” Lauren had said then, the first time she had dared address the devil. 

But he ignored her words, just as all the others had. 

“Simple,” the devil mocked, dressed in his strange finery, holding a hand up to his nose, as if to block out her smell.“Weak. Common. Learn well from this, Nephew. See how easy it is to control your enemy.” 

The boy had not stopped staring at her, and so at last Lauren released her futile gaze on the devil-laird to glare back at the devil’s nephew. He, at least, was meeting her look. 

He was almost no longer a boy, Lauren could tell. He had the same lanky frame as her cousin Quinn, who was five years older than she.This boy was probably the same age, if the devil’s family aged as mortals did. His hair was coal black, and his eyes were dark and troubled. 

“Our king thinks to placate us with the division of Shot,” said the devil in a voice that deepened the cold in the room tenfold. “He grows weary of our island war, he says. So he panders to the Scottish king, and they drink their wine and congratulate each other on the peace they think they have scraped together. But know this, Arion: Their maps and lines and proclamations do not alter the truth. The Isle of Shot lies nearer to the coast of England, not Scotland. Our ancestors were there before the Scots. No matter who orders us to peace, the du Morgan family claims all of the island, and nothing will stop us from fulfilling that claim. Certainly not this feeble creature here, this little nothing.” 

“I am not afraid of you,” Lauren had lied then, trying to inject scorn into her tone. 

The devil casually crossed to her and slapped her hard across the face, sending her reeling back against the wall. She thought she heard the boy exclaim, but her head had struck the stone and she wasn’t certain. Lauren stayed there, dazed, as the shock of it wore off. 

“A very little nothing,” the devil said coolly.“And so easy to kill. Remember, Arion. Someday all of Shot— and all the power it represents—will be yours. This insignificant thing here is what you will need to dispatch to make it so.” He turned away from her, to the boy. “Alas, however, not today. But someday. Someday soon.” 

The du Morgan devil had left then, and the boy had followed, throwing just one more glance at her over his shoulder before he was gone. 

That had been today, Lauren was fairly certain. Time was tricky here in the scary place, and she couldn’t count it out right, since it was always dark. But she thought that visit had been today. 

The lamp they had left her was almost out of oil. She could tell by the way the flame grew puny and thin, a bare blue light against the heavy darkness. Soon it would be gone completely, and the blackness would take over everything.The death air would grow bolder in the darkness. Death was afraid of light. 

Lauren sat down against the wall with her arms wrapped around her knees, shivering from the cold and the fear and the misery that ate away at her. She kept a fold of her tartan pressed up against her face, her cheek, breathing in the faint scent of Shot and trying to find some of the bravery she was sure must be hidden in it. She was going to die here. What an awful thing, to die, and never see the sky again, or touch the warm sand, or swim in the ocean. Never again sleep in her corner room at Keir Castle.Never hold a starfish again, never watch dolphins weaving through the waves, never climb another tree, never see Da or Hannah or any of her family again . . . 

Except for Mama, up in heaven. Mama was there. Surely that had to be something. She must have slept some, for when she lifted her head the flame from the lamp was completely gone, and the only light seeping in came from the uneven sliver of space between the door to her prison and the floor. Lauren lowered her head again and closed her eyes, clutching the fold of tartan over her mouth, trying to hold on to her memories of her home. 

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Shana Abé is the author of Queen of Dragons, The Dream Thief, and The Smoke Thief. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

From the Paperback edition.

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Intimate Enemies 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some just write the story while others are story tellers. Shana is truly a troubadour.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Shana Abe writes with such feeling and emotion that she blows me away every time. This was by far the best book I have read this year -- it was difficult to put down and Lauren and Arion are wonderful characters that will stay with me for a long time. I adored them both and loved how Arion was always there when Lauren needed him the most. She was a strong capable woman who also had a soft side that wanted to be loved and cherished. I found the whole story line to be original and refreshing and highly entertaining. I cannot wait to read the rest of her books and I see why her OOP books are worth so much to her fans!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. I read it for the first time 2 years ago and read it again recently. I think I was even more caught up in the story the second time around. Abe successfully develops her characters and has created a wonderful suspenseful plot. She does an excellent job of portraying the tension between Lauren and Arion, as well as the tension between their own people. I genuinely believed that their feelings for each other went much deeper than the physical, despite it being an instant attraction. Lauren and Arion have some of the best love scenes and are one of my favorite couples. This story sticks with you well after you have finished reading it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1177, upon the death of his odious uncle, Arion du Morgan inherits the earldom that includes the English side of the Isle of Shot. As Arion knows, the isle remains in dispute with the Scots who also reside on it. When the islanders¿ English population ask their new Earl for help against invading Vikings, Arion arrives on Shot.

He meets the Scottish clan leader Lauren Macrae whose father was just killed by Vikings. They agree to work together to stop the invaders because if they fail to do so the Vikings will triumph. As Arion and Lauren fall in love, they struggle to keep their people from breaking the temporary agreement. His side does not trust the barbaric Scots while her side awaits the arrival of Lauren¿s betrothed Peyton to rescue them from the dreaded Vikings and the detested English.

INTIMATE ENEMIES is an exciting Medieval romance that shows the abilities of Shana Abe to make the past seem like the present. The story line is fun as the star-crossed lovers struggle against a common enemy, their own followers mistrust of the other side, and their love that seems which like a betrayal than a blessing at times. The twelfth century comes bustling into existence as readers have come to expect from a historical romance written by the very able Ms. Abe.

Harriet Klausner