Friday, September 18, 2020

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker - Book Reviewed

Otherwise Engaged is a fabulous book!  It is a clean and wholesome romance for those of us who do not like explicit content.  It is also a historical fiction which is one of my favorite genres.  

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Barker, but it will not be the last!   She is a phenomenal writer who includes vivid descriptions of people and surroundings.  I was barely into the first chapter of Otherwise Engaged when I noted how much I loved this author’s captivating descriptions. I could easily envision the people and places in my mind’s eye. 

I also enjoy the touches of humor Barker includes throughout the book.  Several times I laughed out loud at the witty repartee between characters. 

All of these exceptional elements made this a thoroughly enjoyable book which I would highly recommend.   


Synopsis of Otherwise Engaged
England - 1822

Rebecca Rowley has just returned home from Brighton.  She has a big announcement to share with her family.  One that she knows her family will not be excited to hear.  Rebecca is engaged to Edward Bainbridge, whom she just met while in Brighton.  
 
She had heard the Bainbridge name before.  Their fathers had been business partners years before.  The reasons for the dissolution of that partnership had always been a secret that the parents never shared with their children.  Neither Rebecca nor Edward knew why they couldn't be together.  They agreed to find out the secret and, together, try to get their families to leave the past in the past, forgive and forget whatever was necessary, so they could be married with the acceptance and support of both families.  
 
 Otherwise EngagedCheck PriceRebecca had another secret.  She loved to ride her horse, Stella, but she enjoyed riding bareback.  She knew her family would disapprove of her riding in such an unladylike and dangerous way.  So, she would leave the estate with Stella saddled, then remove the saddle when they reached a secluded meadow.  Together, they would run like the wind, free and unencumbered by restraints. 
 
After one of their unconventional rides, Stella heard someone crying for help.  She and Stella immediately responded.  A child was drowning.  Rebecca ran into the water and swam to the girl, whose dress was caught on an underwater tree branch.  Once Rebecca freed her, she pulled her to safety on shore where they were joined by the child's very angry adult half-brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery.  This was definitely not the best way to meet new neighbors, especially since Rebecca was soaking wet and anyone could see that her nearby horse was not wearing a saddle.  This stranger now knew one of her best-kept secrets.  
 
Rebecca soon learned that Nicholas Avery was his sister, Olivia's, guardian.  Her mother had recently died and their father had died a few years before.  Nicholas barely knew Olivia since she was a much younger step-sister.  He had been in the navy all of her life and had only seen her a few times.  He wasn't always sure how to handle Olivia.  As a navy lieutenant, he knew how to make men obey his orders, but was clueless about how to deal with his little sister.  Rebecca stepped in to try to help.
 
Over the next few weeks, Rebecca and Nicholas became friends.  She confided in him and he kept her secrets, plus he enabled her to pursue activities that were otherwise not considered acceptable for a lady in society.   Rebecca's mother thought Nicholas would make the perfect suitor for her, but Nicholas knew Rebecca was otherwise engaged.
 

Conclusion


I immediately adored the free-spirited Miss Rebecca Rowley.  I applauded her desire to take on difficult tasks and live life on her own terms, not by wealthy society rules that stifled women.  I was tickled by Lieutenant Nicholas Avery’s independent little sister, Olivia, who clearly had a mind of her own.  I loved the witty quips of Rebecca’s family, as well as her conversations with Nicholas, and the jocular repartee they shared with each other.   
 
There are some authors who leave me wondering how they do it. How they write so well that they capture my attention.  How they describe their characters with such detail that I feel as if I know them, that they are close friends who have shared every confidence. How they weave a story that captivates me to the point of tears, laughter and even anger. 
 
Joanna Barker has done just that, and more, in “Otherwise Engaged”.  I have no doubt that I will miss Rebecca, Nicholas, and even Olivia in the upcoming weeks.





I received an advance copy of "Otherwise Engaged" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Joanna Barker, and the publisher, Covenant Communications, for this opportunity.



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8 comments:

  1. I cannot imagine how restricted a woman's life must have been in the early part of the 1800s. Today's women do not realize how lucky they are to be free to BE and DO anything they desire.

    Miss Rebecca Rowley in this story sounds like a delightful and adventurous girl who does not let the "proper way of the times" or the 'lady-like' way to restrict her in life or in romance. Today's woman has women like Rebecca to thank for a more liberal and relaxed atmosphere toward living and loving. Sounds like a delightful 'read', Sylvestermouse.

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    1. You are right, Elf! That may well be why I love historical fiction so much. It prompts me to consider the "what ifs" and the "what if nots". This truly is a delightful book to read and I am thrilled with discovering an author that is new to me.

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  2. Well Miss Mouse, you have captured my imagination with your vivid and all encompassing review. This is going on my "To Read" list immediately. Historical romance is one of my favorite genres too. I enjoy imagining where I would be in those "past times". I'm sure I would have been in trouble most of the time. Anyways, this sounds like a book that I could truly get lost in! Thank you!

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    1. I would have joined you in that trouble, Olivia! I rather like our options and freedoms. I'm sure you will love this book, as I did. As a matter of fact, there is another book by Joanna Barker about one of the other characters in the book. I promptly bought it to read next. I'm sure it will be just as wonderful.

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  3. Excellent review! You really made the book come to life. Thanks for the recommend.

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    1. Thank you Mary Beth! It was an easy book to review and recommend since it was such a good book.

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  4. Mouse, you know I share your love of historical fiction, and historical romance novels in particular. Joanna Barker sounds like an author I would really enjoy as well, and I'm a sucker for a convention-bucking, independent-thinking, strong heroine. I'm definitely sold - off to add this to my wish list! Thanks so much for the recommendation.

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  5. This sounds like a fabulous book. I think I want to break my habit of not reading fiction, and read this one! I could enjoy getting lost in book right now, and this one sounds perfect!

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