Review of ‘Night Tide’ by Anna Burke
Anna Burke’s books make me uncomfortable. Whether it is one of her morally grey characters, an f/f romance in the Middle Ages, or, like in ‘Night Tide’, a deep hostility between the main couple, Burke’s novels aren’t fluffy reads. But I love every single one of them because this discomfort makes me think and feel like very few authors in lesfic do.
This is book two of the Seal Cove Romance series and if you haven’t read book one ‘Spindrift’, I suggest that you drop everything and get it as it’s one of the best lesfic books of 2020. However, ‘Night Tide’ could be read as a standalone too.
Lillian Lee lives in Seal Cove and works in a veterinary practice. Even though she’s had a recent relationship breakup, she’s happily surrounded by her family, friends, pets and colleagues. That is, until her college arch nemesis Ivy Holden reappears in her life by accepting a job in Lillian’s veterinary clinic. Time hasn’t healed the wounds or lessened the hate between them…
“Lillian Lee didn’t believe in love at first sight, but she did believe in the inevitability of hate.”
This is one of the best first sentences I’ve read in lesfic and sets the tone for the rest of the book. The enemies to lovers trope is very popular but hard to do convincingly. If the conflict is weak, it’s less believable and if it escalates too much, it’s hard to diffuse. In ‘Night Tide’ Ms. Burke plays with fire by escalating the hate between the leads, so much so, that at a point I thought she wouldn’t be able to pull the romance off.
I shouldn’t have worried though. Love and hate relationships are complex and intense. It’s not a simple “I hate your guts” feeling, there is a conflicted history between them summarised by the author as “part jealousy, part resentment, and part desire”. Ms. Burke captures their emotional ambivalence perfectly and uses the tension as a buildup for the benefit of the romance.
The beauty of this book is that Ms. Burke adds more layers to this complexity through matters of race, class and privilege that gives us food for thought. Is privilege something to be enjoyed without guilt? How relative is privilege in its varied facets of gender, class, race, sexuality? Who is in a moral position to judge others? There are no simple answers to these questions.
But this is mainly a romance and the author manages to create moments of vulnerability for the main characters to share along with intense chemistry and fantastic intimate scenes that make their relationship believable and realistic. As expected, there are moments of redemption too. It’s really worth it. I can’t wait to read book three and final installment in this series or anything else that Ms. Burke writes, for that matter.
If you like your romances intense and with food for thought, then this is highly recommended. 5 stars.