Synopsis: Under His Spell Sparring Partners Wholesome Maggie Kirk had always been wary of commanding cowboy Clint Raygen. So if her best friend's forbidding older brother rubbed her the wrong way, how come she'd chosen his ranch to recover from a broken heart? She knew the dangers that her foe posed . . . yet every time she crossed paths with the hard-edged cattle rancher, her pulse would race out of control. Maggie secretly dreamed of awakening to womanhood in Clint's powerful embrace . . . but did these sweet enemies have a shot at becoming lifelong lovers?
My Thoughts: So after finishing Sweet Enemy I was hovering between 1 or 2 for a rating and decided based on the fact that this is a Harlequin written in 1979 I'd have to give it a little leeway so I went with the higher rating.
Overbearing older rich man. 20 year old naive virgin. Older man brutally kisses young woman one minute (because she wants it) and the next ridiculing her for her weakness (for wanting him). Over and over and over it went. They fought like cats and dogs but he apparently wanted her anyway, yet treated her badly. It was back to the frame of mind 'when a boy pulls your hair it means he likes you' kind of thing. The hero was terrible. He belittled her repeatedly then grabbed her forcibly and punished her with a long bruising kiss which she fought against for all of 1.5 seconds only to succumb to his expertise in the ways between a man and woman. At which point he would shove her away from him stare her down in an accusatory way because it was her fault he wanted her. I especially enjoyed (not) the time he told her to to tell him she wanted him. Then he made her beg for him. After she said please bend me over your desk....(ok that didn't really happen) but after she basically begged him to make love to her he mocked her feelings for him in such a way it made her feel 1/2 an inch tall. She managed to get a dig into him to try to salvage what was left of her dignity only to have him be even more calculating and mean to her later in retaliation to his bruised pride.
She was just as bad as he was. Her main flaw was that she let him treat her so poorly. In addition she actually decided she loved him. Really?
I rarely run across a book that I absolutely detest the two main characters so much but on the upside I liked a couple of the minor characters. One might have his own Harlequin out there somewhere (this book is book #179 in the MacFadden Romance series so who knows). Unfortunately the other character I actually liked died during the course of the book.
As far as Palmer's writing goes, I can't fault it that much other than I've heard she has not modified her style even after over 30 years of writing. Her heroes are all still like this and her heroines are all innocent virgins no matter what their age. As far as this book goes the only plot there seemed to be was the combustible relationship the hero and heroine had. I find it a bit odd that the romance is the plot devise in this book. Normally you would find a plot that carries the storyline along during which, the H/h fall in love. So, plot not good. However, somehow Palmer did make me feel for the heroine during her lowest point despite the fact that I didn't like her and she was everything that I detest in a female character. So she gets kudos for that. Not everyone can make me feel sorry for a character that I hate.
Now the big question.....will I read another Palmer or not. I will. Only because this is the only book I've read by her and I believe in giving an author a better chance than that. I will read at least one more book by her just to make sure that this particular book wasn't just an unfortunate release to an otherwise stellar bibliography.