"Why, James, I believe that is one of the nicest things you have ever said about me. I cannot think of one instance in which you found anything about my person delightful. I shall go home and mark the occasion in my diary."
James Aldwick isn’t ready to settle down, but his father, Baron Retford, doesn’t give him a choice. The stigma of illegitimacy has haunted the baron his whole life, and it’s up to his son to reestablish their good name by marrying into a family with a perfect pedigree. A series of summer parties is the obvious course of action and the perfect opportunity to parade eligible ladies before the reluctant James. Jessica Westcote, the youngest daughter of an earl, has resisted marriage to every stuffy lord her parents present to her. She wants a love match, not a business alliance.
Unfortunately, the only man to ever evoke more than a tepid response from her heart is Mr. Aldwick, and passionate fury isn’t the same thing as ardent love. When an invitation to Retford Castle’s long list of events arrives, Jessica surprises herself by accepting. James is just as surprised to see his childhood nemesis and neighbor as a frequent guest, but he is certain his former foe won’t lay down arms long enough for a truce, let alone a courtship. Battle lines are drawn, but it isn’t long before those lines begin to blur. Are they friends or foes? Enemies or allies? As the end of summer approaches and James must make his choice, can Jessica forget the past long enough to imagine a future with him?
Thoughts & Feelings
Have you ever heard about a book and then realized it was part of a series? Then you went to look up the series and realized that the book you were DYING to read was book seven out of eight? After a few minutes you realized you didn't really care and were going ot read it anyways?
Well my friends that is exactly how I came to read An Engagement With the Enemy without reading any of the previous six books in the Castles and Courtship series. I regret nothing. I loved Sally Britton's addition to the series so much and am so excited to collect the rest of the series and dive in, in order.
The best part of this book, reading it out of order and with no knowledge of the previous books, is that I didn't feel lost at all. Each of the characters and places were described in a way that felt familiar and I was wrapped in the story quickly. Now, there might be little easter eggs that I missed and I'm sure that there are some book connections that completely went over my head. But, if this novel intrigues you and you are wanting to read it just know that you won't be lost if you jump into the series here.
Our main man, James, and leading lady, Jessica, are absolutely fantastic! They are sworn enemies since forever but their pranks have slowly turned into a battle of will and intellect. I love that Sally let us not only see their current battles but also some of the past pranks through different characters reminiscing. The pranks that Sally wrote in are so funny and had me giggling just imagining these things happening in an actual castle. My favorite may have been when Jessica explains how she achieved the prank with Ottis, James' dog. It is so clever and will have you smiling. I wont give any more details about the event so that you can love it and have the amazingness revealed to you by Jessica herself.
I loved James and Jessica together but they are also fantastic seperately. I love how much we were able to see them in their own homes, with friends, and in social environments. We truly get to know the characters in all situations which makes them feel complete and real. I found myself quickly becoming invested in their attempts to thwart and postpone one anothers engagements. Some of the things they come up with are hilarious and I loved that the other character (who's engagement was being thwarted) always goes along with the plan. For example, Jessica speaks of James being an absolute bookworm (which I loved) as if it was a terrible thing. That he became so lost in a novel that he would hide away in the library for hours and it often made him tardy to events. Later that night James burries his nose, quite literally, in a novel instead of socializing with his guests after dinner. You guys! These moments are not only genius but are filled with so much emotion and relationship building. They be my favorite of the entire novel.
Lastly, I cannot write this review without speaking specifically of Jessica. She is wonderfully written. Jessica is kind, tender hearted, and fierce and hides a very real social anxiety from most people. There are very few who know about her struggle and the way that being in large crowds or with people she doesn't know affects her. The way Sally describes and helps us see and feel her social anxiety is beyond words. My heart goes out to people that experience this level of social anxiety. I love that Sally chose to incorporate this into Jessica's character and that she so beautifully showed us and helps us experience those feelings.
Content & Trigger Warnings
Jessica has severe social anxiety. She is physically affected when she is in large groups of people she does not know. Her anxiety is mentioned throughout the novel as well as the diagnoses that physicians have given.
Title: An Engagement With the Enemy
Series: Castles & Courtship #7
Author: Sally Britton
Castles & Courtship Series
An Amiable Foe by Jennie Goutet
To Know Miss May by Deborah M. Hathaway
A Heart to Keep by Ashtyn Newbold
A Noble Inheritance by Kasey Stockton
The Rules of Matchmaking by Rebecca Connolly
A Suitable Arrangement by Martha Keys
An Engagement with the Enemy by Sally Britton
Charming the Recluse by Mindy Burbidge Strunk