Monday, December 9, 2013

My Dearest Enemy

The title: My Dearest Enemy
The author: Connie Brockway
Publication: Dell, 1998
Got it from:  Amazon 2010?

I was holding my breath for this book, waiting to see whether it would be delicious or another "let's throw this at the wall in frustration" title.  See, I adored Bridal Favors but had serious, serious issues with As You Desire.  Thank the sweet lucky stars that this book was more like the former.

The story revolves around Lily Bede, a suffragist who is dead set on being independent and remaining single.  (There is a back story here.  You have to read it to understand her cause, but it makes a lot of sense).  Lily is a cousin of sorts to the Thorne family.  The patriarch of the Thornes, Horatio, is a complete jerkass who wills his estate Mill House to Lily, provided she can turn a profit on it after five years.  If she does not, she loses the house and gets an allowance only if she renounces the suffragist cause.  This immediately creates a problem, because Mill House was also promised to Horatio's nephew Avery.  Horatio, being the nice guy he is, also has it in for Avery because Avery suffers from asthma and he considers him to be weak and unmanly.

Horatio dies.  Lily takes up residence at Mill House and Avery, to bide his time, wanders around the world.  One of Lily's responsibilities is to provide Avery with an allowance, so they begin a rather snarky correspondence.  (A relationship that starts with letters?  Yes please!)  Then, just before the deadline at the end of five years, Avery shows up.

This book was pure perfection. It was laugh-out-loud funny, believable, and heartfelt without feeling too sickeningly sweet.  Every chapter held my attention and felt like an important part of the story.  I loved how Avery, even though he had an awful childhood where he was bullied for having asthma, doesn't necessarily feel bitter or compelled to take out his frustration on others.  He's very kindhearted, especially when it comes to his nephew, who also suffers from asthma.

And oh, the romantic screwball comedy.  Avery and Lily are both intellectuals, and they have at it like pros.  One of my favourite bits is when a fellow explorer of Avery's is explaining a situation they had faced in the jungle:  "...I remember once, in Brazil, when guides had run off with some hostiles and we were left to founder about on our own for, oh Lord, at least a month...'Here now, chaps.' [Avery] said, 'If Miss Bede does not worry about our welfare, why should you?..Why, and I quote Miss Bede, God takes care of fools and children thus, being men, you are doubly safeguarded against misadventure.'"  

No wonder it rates on All About Romance's top 100 romances of all time.  (Below As You Desire.  Sigh.  There is no justice in this world). 

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