Lagan Foster is doing his best. Working full time while attending law school isn’t easy, but he’ll stop at nothing to see his dreams come true. With his brothers at his back, Lagan is succeeding. Except for the fact that his Family Law professor, Killian Evans, hates his guts and for no apparent reason. From the first moment, Professor Evans has singled Lagan out, making snarky and snide comments, and outright saying that he doesn’t think Lagan had what it takes to become a lawyer.
Killian Evans once had it all, but trusting the wrong person had his entire world crashing down around him. He’s made a new life for himself, but he’s a shadow of his former self. His routines keep him from spiraling apart, but it’s not a joyous way to live. And though he admits he might have misjudged Lagan, it takes time for him to really ask for forgiveness and see the error of his ways. The two men keep running into each other outside of class, and Killian begins to see that Lagan is not what he thought.
The attraction between them only fuels the problem. But when Lagan gets a distressing phone call before class, Killian is the one who takes care of him. In the following days, Lagan leans on Killian instead of his brothers, which is a first for him. Lagan wants to stand on his own, but he needs help. The more the two men get to know each other, the more the hate between them fades. And the more the attraction becomes undeniable.
But there are good reasons these two men shouldn’t be together, and Killian pushes Lagan away. Old hurts resurface and Killian is afraid to take a leap. Despite the forces keeping them apart, Killian and Lagan have connected on a deep level. It’ll take some soul searching by both men, and some changes, before they can get their happily ever after.
It’s no secret I’m a fan of Nora Phoenix, and I’ve really enjoyed the Foster Brothers series so far. I love the found family that the four men have created, and I love the way they lean on each other. I think this series is best read in order, as it gives background and nuance to the stories. However, they could technically be read as standalones.
That being said, when I saw the blurb for this one, I was a bit hesitant with the plot point. Enemies to lovers doesn’t always work for me. On top of that, this trope is often handled poorly and, in my opinion, many books labeled as enemies to lovers are more like rivals to lovers or the “hate” is so superficial as to be laughable. That is absolutely not the case here. In the first quarter of the book, both MCs absolutely loathe one another, which makes the title even more apt. Killian’s hate of Lagan may have stemmed from a superficial place, but the way Phoenix explored it and used it to flesh out Killian was masterful. Lagan is reacting to Killian’s treatment of him, and that makes it all the more believable.
The author weaves a story that makes their turn around in attitudes believable. Part of that, of course, is the attraction and chemistry between them. But that’s not all of it. As they both come to understand each other, they both change their opinions with each new piece of information. It’s a bit of a slow build, but Phoenix does a great job exploring each of the MCs’ motivations and thoughts, and as they grow, so does their relationship. It moves smoothly from enemies to friends to lovers. There’s also a really nice balance between external and internal conflict that pushes the plot forward.
Ultimately, these two men find what they want and need in each other. But it takes a lot of work for themselves, as well as a lot of communication. It’s not always perfect and there are setbacks, but that made their challenges all the more real. And if the ending had a bit of a fairytale feel, they both deserved it after everything life had dealt them.
I really enjoy this series, and this book has been my favorite so far. Phoenix has a knack for well-drawn characters and that shows through even more in this book. This series has a lot of my favorite elements, and this book in particular hits on some of my favorite tropes. Coupled with my some of my favorite tropes, this book, and this series, is an easy recommendation from me.