-Panic attacks and anxiety
-Loss of a parent
-Manipulative/verbally abusive ex
About a month ago, I stumbled on Erin’s Tiktok page and saw this video advertising her debut novel. Fake dating, enemies to lovers, food, essentially I felt this book calling to me and even jokingly left a comment saying “Gimme!” I quickly jumped on the PC, headed over to Netgalley to see if an ARC was listed, and hit that request button as fast as I could.
Luck was on my side and about a week ago I received an email saying I was approved, through Netgalley, to download the ARC. As I was already 1/3 of the way through “Lies We Bury”, by Elle Marr, I quickly devoured that thriller/mystery so I could crack this new ARC open. As the book doesn’t release until the end of July I always waited to read it closer to release but it just had too many tropes I love to put aside and wait. Patience has never been one of my virtues *insert nervous laugh here*.
When this book is described as enemies to lover…Erin wasn’t joking. For the last three years, Nina and Leo have worked as co-hosts to the reality show “The Next Cooking Champ!” and for all three of those years, they’ve disliked one another. Jabs and rude comments lobbed back and forth between each other, both assuming the other looks down on them. One interaction even created a hashtag when Leo essentially named her “nasty Nina.” From season one Nina has been seen as the villain and Leo as the sweetheart and comic relief, which has just fueled the dislike further and further along.
If you hate the miscommunication trope…you may get a little frustrated as there were quite a few times where I was yelling at the book “JUST TELL THEM HOW YOU FEEL!” I don’t feel that the miscommunication/lack of communication lasted as long as some romances drag it out and when all the cards are out there it is so sweet, in my opinion, it was worth the wait.
Leo is aware he has issues with anxiety and has struggled for a while with preventing, or getting through, panic attacks that can hit out of nowhere. Although aware of what he faces he chooses not to share his struggles with anyone, not even his close family. I really appreciated how we were able to be there on Leo’s journey of self-acceptance as he start to take necessary steps towards improving his mental health and overall life in general. That might seem a bit spoilery but I feel like a lot of times when mental health is brought up in romance it’s either something the characters have already completely addressed or it’s something they’re just now recognizing. For a lot of us, we can be aware of our battle with anxiety/depression/etc, for a long time before we’re finally at the point where we feel like we can reach out for help. It can take time for you to realize you aren’t a burden if you ask for help.
I do wish there would have been a conversation between Nina and Leo where they both opened up about their misconceptions from the start which lead them to be enemies those first three years. Although they fall for each other and open up in other ways, I feel like this kind of conversation would heal all, or at least a lot of, the wounds from the past so they really are starting fresh. Granted I feel like this is a conversation that definitely happened between these two characters, I just wish it wouldn’t have happened …what’s the book way of saying “off-screen?”
This was a great debut to read and I look forward to seeing more of Erin’s work in the future! I’m also really hoping she writes more books set in this universe so we can get to know more about all the awesome friends and family we met in this book!