By: Joanna Barker
Expected Publication: October 12th 2020 by Covenant Communications
Genre: Historical Fiction, Regency
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--She’s never been afraid of breaking the rules—until she risks breaking her heart
Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly—or not so quietly—rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family.
When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged—to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship.
Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily.
After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine?
I've been on a Joanna Barker kick since I got a couple of her books for my birthday. So when I saw Otherwise Engaged available for review, I requested it immediately. And it just so happened that I had the opportunity to keep reading once I got started on this one. And I'm glad that was the case because I did not want to put it down.
Rebecca has recently returned home from a trip to Brighton where she secretly accepted the proposal of a man who she's certain her family will not approve of due to some secret history between their two families. The two have a plan to uncover the falling out between their families so they can convince each family to forgive and forget and thus they will be able to move forward with marriage with the blessings of their families. But finding information isn't so easy
Meanwhile, Rebecca saves the new neighbor's sister from drowning in a lake. Her initial meeting with Lt. Avery is unconventional, to say the least. The two don't get off on the best foot, but Nicholas is intent on making amends for his harried and rude behavior at their meeting. The two feel safe with each other knowing that Rebecca has a beau and is therefore not interested in Nicholas. And Nicholas has plans to return to active duty in the Navy and isn't planning on marrying anyone. They take advantage of comfort with each other to share burdens, passions, secrets, and time. The build between them was mesmerizing, and I found myself holding my breath with anxiety over these two characters.
Olivia is Nicholas' half-sister that he's recently become responsible for since the death of Olivia's mother six months earlier. Olivia comes off like an angry child. She's surly and sassy. She's brutally honest. But she's also hurt and grieving. You can't help but feel for her and therefore fall in love with her. I would love to read her story one day.
The other side characters came off the page just as much. I loved Rebecca's relationship with her mother and her brother. Between the three, there is genuine love and affection. Even though they mourn the loss of Rebecca's father, it's easy to envy their family dynamic.
-“Once I’ve set my aim, I never miss.”
-You challenge me. You understand me. You take me as I am and, yet, make me wish to be better.”
-“I never thought I would surrender myself so easily or so willingly. But you have captured me, Rebecca Rowley, and I have no desire to escape.”
Ah! Otherwise Engaged is all the good things. I don't always enjoy love triangles, but I do enjoy characters realizing that they've outgrown a relationship and someone else is a better fit for them. Nicholas and Rebecca have a wonderful journey. I loved how well they knew and understood each other. Nicholas particularly had a good read on Rebecca. I can see myself re-reading this one someday which says a lot about my feelings these days. Otherwise Engaged gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read Otherwise Engaged? What did you think? Let me know!