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4.3 out of 5 stars342
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 21 March 2010
I settled down with high expectations and wasn't disappointed. Enemies
> and Playmates gripped me from the off and took me through its twists
> and turns with a tight control from the author.
> Lauren Covington lives with a control freak of a father, Alex. He's
> manipulative, abusive and rich. To the outside world he's a wonderful
> father and family man: loyal to his wife and patron to many charities,
> ironically battered women!
> Lauren stays in the family home out of love for her mother and brother,
> but when she meets the hero of the story Jesse Ryder and her brother
> dies she and Jesse pave the way for her father's downfall.
> Romantic diehards won't be disappointed, it's woven beautifully into
> the story. Darcia Helle is certainly going to be added to my top
> favourite author list!
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on 28 May 2011
I really enjoyed reading this book. This is the first Darcia Helle and I doubt it will be the last.

I felt that Darcia really explained her characters and nothing was left to the imagination (a good thing in my book). I prefer a book which is quite steamy and this certainly didn't tick that box however I certainly didn't miss it.

The way the story is told you could believe it is true, I think the way Darcia handles the mothers abusive relationship is fantastic and the way she makes her characters act and react to the situation is true to life.

The relationship between Lauren & Jesse is brilliant, I love everything about these 2 and I was on edge throughout wishing and willing for things to go right for them & I wasn't left dissapointed.

All in All a fantastic book, hero, villain, suspense and love. I loved the whole book and will certainly check out some more of this author's work.
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on 3 April 2011
This is the first time I've read a suspense/ romance and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Being a novelist myself, I thought how I would tackle this kind of genre if I were to write a suspense/romance. Personally, I would find it rather challenging to weave the suspense side of the story with the romance side and keep them flowing with a fine balance. I have to say that Darcia Helle has achieved this in an excellent manner. She has weaved her story with the characters in a subtle manner. So much so that I started to feel just how the characters felt, their likes/dislikes, their fears and their joys. One thing that jumped out at me was Darcia's wonderful talent for developing her characters, especially the main protagonists. She doesn't rush in and tell us all about them, instead she slowly shows us through their actions something new about them. I must say that this was done so well that I take my hat off to Darcia. It's not easy trying to keep so many characters in your head (or even on paper) with their little quirks, habits, etc, and maintain continuity and consistency in a story, and also ensure the plot keeps moving. Darcia obviously has this gift and she delivers her story masterfully, even down to the little details that many of us never think about.

I loved the story, and the plot just kept getting better and better, until the story culminated into a spiral of suspense action that made me unable to put down the book--or I should say, I just couldn't shut off my e-book reader! I can't wait to read Darcia's other novels now :-)

Sylvia Massara
Like Casablanca
The Other Boyfriend
The Soul Bearers
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Domestic abuse is used as a plot device in a large number of crime and suspense novels, as it is here, but I am of the opinion that the author of this book has mishandled the issue and does the real life victims of such crimes few favours.

Lauren's family is controlled by her tyrannical father, Alex, especially her mother and her brother. This story revolves around Lauren's attempts to escape from her father and reveal his abuse and her new relationship with Jesse who is investigating a crime which seems to involve her father. This is a standard romantic suspense novel and the plot is perfectly OK with some reasonable characterisation, I especially liked the character of Jesse.

The problem arises with handling of the effect of the abuse on Lauren and her family. Lauren seems exempt from the violence but has lived with it for years, in fact she appears to be able to be quite independent and even speak back to her father. She has not reported his abuse for the fear of the consequences to other members of the family. It seems, however, that the violence she has witnessed all her life has had no lasting effect, she has no problem with making a relationship with a man and is confident and assertive. Her brother has more difficulty and makes some bad choices in life which result in his death. The author continually represents him as weak and seems to imply that if he had stood up to his father then he would not have died. The mother submits to violence and gives in to it and again is protrayed as weak until Lauren gives her courage, she leaves her husband once and then she easily makes a new relationship with another man as though many years of marriage to an abuser and daily physical violence have had no lasting effect. All this is unreal and treats the whole issue of domestic violence in a very superficial manner. I realise thht you cannot expect the depth of understanding in an easy read such as this one as you find in Roddy Doyle's novel "The Woman who Walked into Doors" but the subject matter needed a little more research and some reality injected into how it was described.

If you are interested in a suspense novel which handles this issue well and demonstrates how it affects people in a lasting way then I advise that you read nearly anything by Karen Rose or "The Perfect Husband" by Lisa Gardner.
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on 17 September 2012
As a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of my father I found this book difficult yet compelling reading. Difficult because the author 'gets' it perfectly. the conflicting emotions, the hard road of learning healthy love and the conflict of thinking you 'should' love someone because they are your father, husband etc juxtaposed to their abuse to you and those you love. The character of Alex Covington is portrayed perfectly, whether the abuser is a lawyer or biker they are always a control freak and all aspects of their lives reflect this.

The narrative told mainly through Lauren's eyes is perfect at portraying the confusion, determination and roiling feelings.

As I downloaded this for free on kindle I'd have to say this was a heck of a find - though it WILL trigger for anyone with abuse issues in their past or present. So I do recommend having some light reading to follow and someone to give you lots of hugs when you need them.
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on 18 April 2012
This book is about a young lady called Lauren who lives with her mother, brother and controlling father

She has a relationship with a man that her father does not approve of and things get rather confrontational

There is a facade of the perfect family on the outside but the family is dysfunctional with lies and deception to the core

It is a good book worth a read although the storyline got a little ropey towards the end

I would recommend
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on 20 October 2010
This is a fast-paced, action packed book! There are so many twists and turns, most of them leaving me with my mouth open as they were so unexpected! Darcia Helle is undoubtedly a talented writer who knows how to hook the reader and keep them interested with a well structured and fulfilling storyline. This story would make a good film, I'd love to see it on the big screen.
Lauren Covington meets and falls in love with Jesse Ryder. She has a deep mistrust of men due to her violent father, Alex, a well-respected lawyer who shows one face to the world and another to those nearest to him. At home and in his personal life he is one of the greatest villains ever to grace the pages of a crime novel. Despite her reluctance to let him get closer, somehow Jesse's irresistible charms get the better of Lauren. Soon she is in too deep even though she knows that her relationship could cause problems. By an unhappy coincidence, Jesse, the one man who could offer her some happiness away from the dark and terrifying world at home, has worked for her father in the past and there is unfinished business.
The characters are all well developed and very believable. I found myself being able to picture very clearly all the action as Darcia Helle's skills for describing events are well tuned. Much of the action is character driven with a great deal of conversation, making the book a page turner.
I would recommend Enemies and Playmates to everyone. I was surprised to hear that this was the author's first novel as it is so skillfully written, and it has made me eager to read more of Helle's work.
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on 5 January 2015
I started off reading the book with a usual assumptions - that the plot was going to focus on the bedroom antics of the two main characters; Lauren and Jesse.

However, as I got further and further involved in the plot, I found it difficult to put down my tablet and at one point was so deeply engrossed in the story that I nearly missed my stop home!

I kept on thinking how far was "the evil one" (as I had subconsciously nicknamed him) going to go to get to his family and his "sworn enemy".

Even better, I didn't have to skip over numerous spelling mistakes often found in other ebooks.

I look forward to reading more books from this author very soon!
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on 5 May 2012
Sometimes, I wonder what people want. I don't know how on earth the one star reviewer could have been bored with this book! I couldn't put it down! I thought the total opposite and found the characters suitably lovable, evil, even pathetic sometimes. Everything I think the author wanted us to feel. I thought Alex Covington was one of the worst baddies EVER! He was truly, totally evil! And did it so well. With no remorse. I even cried in places (I won't spoil it for you). I've read loads of thrillers that have an erotic, sometimes almost pornographic, undertone and I loved those. This one I loved, despite the sex scenes being so much more diluted than I usually read. Ms Helle could have made more of them, especially with Jesse, our leading man, being so hot and heroic. However, I found myself not caring about that, as much as I did the story. There were a host of characters, and they were all worked in extremely well.

The story centres around Jesse Ryder (former cop turned PI. Great name too) and Lauren Covington, the daughter of Alex Covington (JR Ewing is a pussycat compared to this sociopathic evilness) and Kara Covington, abused wife of said Alex. There is also Stephen, Lauren's younger brother, who is a wild child, taking all manner of chemical and alcoholic substances to numb the pain of the abuse carried out by his father on the entire family. Alex is a very wealthy head of a law firm. He is totally corrupt and power mad, and has his dirty fingers in many even dirtier pies. However, to the outside world, he is seen as a pillar of his community and everyone loves and admires him. And he wants to keep it that way, and so the family stay silent about what really goes on behind closed doors. Those scenes are really sad, and I felt such empathy towards Kara, but sometimes frustration, too, for 'allowing' Alex's behaviour to continue. She does have her moments, though.

So, enter Jesse. He meets Lauren in a wine bar, where she is sitting with her friends, and when she tells him who she is, he realises he knows her father, and that he's in Covington's bad books when he refuses to do some dirty work for him. And Covington isn't used to being told 'no'. Especially when Jesse knows a little too much about his shady dealings, and starts his own investigation on Covington's activities.

Lauren and Jesse have an instant attraction but, what I liked is how slow they took it. No jumping into bed on the first date. Jesse gets to know her and finds he wants to know more. They gradually fall in love and it's great - until daddy finds out. And he does his evil best to keep them apart. It made for intriguing, nail-biting reading.

There are quite a few twists in this book. There are gangsters, crooked cops and politicians, betrayal of the worst kind, long lasting friendships. Enduring love. I thought I could predict the outcomes of this book. Only one thing turned out the way I expected. Is there a happy ending? You'll have to read it to find out. Well done Ms H. I know it was a freebie on Kindle, but now I've had a taste of you, I'm looking for more.
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on 9 July 2012
This book was good and bad in equal measure.

Why could no-one see that all leads pointed to the same source and that no-one was asking the right questions? Why were most characters willing to lie down and accept what happened to them without a fight except the lead character of Jesse Ryder? Can anyone really believe that the Lauren described at the beginning of chapter one would trust a total stranger so readily by the end of chapter two? Can we really believe that she fell in love with Jesse at first sight over a crowded bar? Wasn't it convenient that he was the only good man left in town and that he would stand up to her father. How can you keep getting attacked every couple of chapters but still insist that everything will be OK? If Boston is such a corrupt city, why has no-one done something about it before now?

However I liked the premise of the controlling father and could believe that the public facade didn't tie up with reality. Although I found the storytelling a bit amateurish, I was still compelled to continue reading. Unfortunately as I kept reading the story it got more and more unbelievable. The characterisation was a bit thin and the story lacked depth. All in all the author had the makings of a good novel but it needed more detail and less repitition to make it better.

If you're looking for an easy holiday read or a freebie to pass the time then this is it.
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