has also reviewed:

All Through The Night

As You Desire

A Dangerous Man

My Dearest Enemy
by Connie Brockway
(Dell, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-440-22375-X
I feel as though I'll be repeating myself in this review. In the last Connie Brockway book I reviewed, All Through the Night, I wrote that her books are definitely original stories with magnetic, complex, memorable characters.

Her newest book, My Dearest Enemy, thank heavens, didn't make me eat those words. In fact, it may be a challenge to come up with something original because all those adjectives apply again.

Horatio Algernon Thorne's death is mourned by no one. To top it off, his will has managed to shock and anger two of its benefactors. Avery Thorne believed he had been promised Mill House and, in fact, it was the thought of that future inheritance that kept up his spirits during a difficult childhood marred by serious illness.

But the care of Mill House has been given to 19-year-old Lily Bede who will actually inherit it in five years if it profits under her management. As bequests go, this is not as good as it seems. Lily's alternative under the will is a handsome stipend but only if she gives up her outspoken suffragist leanings and admits that a woman's place is in the home!

So Avery's 'guardian' is an outspoken, 19-year-old Victorian lady he assumes has wormed her way into an old man's good graces! And Lily also assumes the worst of Avery ...that either his character or behavior must have resulted in his losing Mill House. Humiliated, Avery embarks on a five year worldwide expedition that brings him fame as explorer. During those five years, Lily and Avery commence a regular correspondence in which their early, erroneous preconceptions of each other are soon dispelled.

And what wonderfully, witty, charming letters they are! It was almost a disappointment for me when Avery and Lily meet face to face, knowing that the letters would end. Almost.....except for that immediate, burst of sexual attraction that develops between them. Nobody does better sexual tension than Connie Brockway.

In many romances the characters are not developed well enough. As a result, their actions don't always make sense and the conflicts sometimes seem overblown. Both Avery and Lily were wonderfully complex characters and I understood their motivations, so that even if I didn't agree with their decisions, they were understandable.

Lily's unusual past history makes her adamant that marriage and motherhood are not for her while Avery's explorations and childhood have produced a desire for a loving home and family. Brockway handles this conflict deftly and believably.

Lighter than the darkly erotic All Through the Night, My Dearest Enemy also shows Brockway's range and versatility: she can write humor and delightfully witty repartees, too. With a cast of interesting secondary characters and all sorts of possibilities for a sequel, I'm hoping that this is the first of a series.

In my review of All Through the Night, I suggested that readers "try" Connie Brockway. I think I should state it more plainly: if you're not reading Connie Brockway, you're missing one of today's top writers of historical romance.

--Dede Anderson

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