By Alonna Williams

Au Contraire

What would you do if you found yourself engaged to someone who is the exact opposite from you? 

“Arlo looked at her and, to her surprise, his face relaxed, almost as if he was relieved to see her.”

Alonna Williams

Alonna Williams decided to explore not only the enemies to lover trope, but forced marriage as well, in her book Au Contraire. While reading, I couldn’t help but pick up on the Jane Austen vibes that showed themselves throughout the book.

In Au Contraire readers are shown two well established families who have decided to marry their youngest children, Elonnie and Arlo. Arlo was born into family money, while Elonnie worked with her family to create their wealth. When Arlo’s family approaches him about the marriage he is not thrilled. Not only is the marriage to Elonnie Wilhelm, the girl who almost destroyed his family’s bank a week prior by dancing in it, but to a family whose business he does not understand. His brothers remind him that there will be money involved if he chooses to marry Elonnie. In the end he accepts, begrudgingly, with the intent to make her into the wife he wants her to be. Elonnie’s family approaches her differently with the marriage.They inform her that Arlo’s family requested the union and they agree that it would be a good thing. While also letting her know the choice is up to her and accepting would keep the Kensington’s from pressing charges over her antics in the bank prior. She is nervous and unsure but also excited to see where the marriage could lead. Believing that fate is making the call for her to marry Arlo and she will make the most of it. 

“His smile grew deeper as he watched her dancing–he had never really seen her perform before. He had only seen her practice a few steps every now and then, but seeing it all pieced together was something special.”

Alonna Williams


“He despised the idea–all the stories he had heard about this family was proof that they were total opposites of him and his family.” – Alonna Williams

He is a brooding, and grim character at first introductions. Sometimes as a reader I wanted to smack him with the book I was reading, as his initial actions were a walking red flag.  However, he really started to grow on me and he started to make sense as I got to know him. His actions and thoughts also made me want to know him more, much like they did for Elonnie. Arlo blindsided me as a character. I figured I would tolerate him eventually and acknowledge he was good for Elonnie. In the end I up appreciating who he was as a character and cheering him on.

“Something about the idea of her being whisked away into an arranged marriage to a man she never met actually made her curious and excited.” – Alonna Williams


Elonnie was a spunky breath of fresh air. She was sweet and kind but knew her boundaries, not letting anyone cross them. This included her soon-to-be Husband Arlo, who seemed to live for testing them. She is a talented performer, dancing anywhere she can. It was that dancing that got her into the marriage arrangement to begin with. I fell for her the minute I was introduced to her character. She is such a great mix of strong independence, but soft and loving. It was hard not to understand why most of the side characters in the story also adored her just as much as I did. 


*Honorable Mention Side Character*

“‘Before too much time has passed and animosity grows, go to her, Arlo. Humble yourself and go to her.‘” -Alonna Williams

Her name was so fitting for her character. She was the ride or die friend for both Arlo and Elonnie, even if they didn’t see it. Technically, she is an employee of Arlo’s family and has known him his whole life but this doesn’t stop her from supporting Elonnie. As a reader she was the icon of calm and wisdom I needed amidst the conflicts between Arlo and Elonnie. I always found myself grinning when Constance appeared and often hoped she would show up. She not only listened well but was quick to catch onto the tiny details that neither Elonnie or Arlo wanted to acknowledge.

“‘The beauty of life is that we all have different experiences, Mr. Elmsley; perhaps you need the ballerina experience to loosen up a little. As does my charming, suddenly silent husband’”

Alonna Williams

Overall I really enjoyed Au Contraire. It was a great cozy read focusing on the relationship dynamic between Arlo and Elonnie. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Jane Austen, or love books with great character growth. It is a sweet and endearing story about what it’s like to find out what you wanted really wasn’t what you needed. If you do decide to pick up Au Contraire, I hope you fall for the characters as much as I did. 

Deeply, Ashten