by Connie Brockway

August 1993
ISBN: 0-440-22375-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Dell Publishing
Mass Market Paperback

When Horatio Thorne decreed in his will the management of Mill House to Lillian Bede for five years, Avery Thorne was not only devastated, he was furious! After all, Avery was promised Mill House by his uncle when he was just a small boy and this Lillian Bede had no claim to it at all besides being some distant relative of his uncle’s wife. The only reprieve in the conditions of the will is that Ms. Bede must show a profit from her five years of management to keep the house and if not, Mill House becomes Avery’s.

Lillian Bede had no other choice but to except the conditions of Horatio’s will although she knew how difficult the task put before her was going to prove to be. Lily has no other prospects for her future, as an illegitimate suffragist who intends never to marry, she knows being given the opportunity to own her own property is not likely to happen again. Therefore, Lily and Avery become enemies without ever having met and thus begins an almost five year correspondence through the cutting, acerbic letters they write to each other. However, despite the argumentative nature of their letters, Lily and Avery both perversely cannot wait for the next one to arrive. When Avery finally shows up at Mill House in person, he is just as “male” (not being a good description as far as Lily is concerned!) as Lily had pictured, but she had not imagined she would find him so darn attractive! Likewise, although Lily is just as quarrelsome as she came across in her letters, she is not at all the spinster-like woman Avery had expected.

Although they want to hate each other, Avery and Lily find this to be a lot harder than they expected. Sexual tension is thick whenever they come within two feet of each other and the matchmakers determined to bring them together make sure this is often! When they begin to suspect the other might have feelings for them, neither Lily nor Avery can trust that it isn’t strategy for winning control of Mill House. Past hurts, differing views and of course, the fight for Mill House all compound to keep Avery and Lily apart – but none is a match for true love.

My Dearest Enemy is the first novel I have read by Connie Brockway, but it definitely won’t be my last! Ms. Brockway has a real talent for writing a romantic novel full of humor, wit and of course, love. The realistic inner struggle Lily went through to trust giving her heart to Avery made the happy ending that much sweeter. And Avery is a man who thoroughly deserves that trust and love.

Avery Thorne is not the typical historical hero. He is not wealthy, is not the perfect physical specimen and does not have legions of women falling in his path. He has suffered with asthma since childhood – a condition that is not well understood in this time period, nor was tolerated by his guardian, his uncle Horatio, who believed Avery to be a “weakling”. Thus Avery grew into a shy, sensitive man who above all wanted to deport himself as a true gentleman, but often does so in an amusing manner.

Lily also is not what readers have come to expect from romance novel heroines. For instance, she is the one who must be persuaded to marry and she would be more willing to be Avery’s mistress than his wife. Both main characters were a refreshing change from the norm and were a perfect match for each other. The supporting characters are well written and interesting but they thankfully did not take too much time away from whom we really wanted to read about – Avery and Lily.

I found My Dearest Enemy impossible to put down and a definite keeper! I would highly recommend this novel to any one who loves a good romance.

Reviewed in September 2002 by Nicole.

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