This is the second book in her Spymaster series. I have not read the first book and honestly don’t feel it is necessary to read the first in order to read this. It is very much a standalone book. I like Brenda Joyce as an author especially her historical books (The Francesca Cahill series is one of my favorites), but she falls flat with Persuasion.
Joyce has always been a good one to turn to for having your senses teased. Her earlier books are filled with such heart pounding, sexual tension that leave you tingling all over, but lately she just doesn’t measure up to her previous books. It is understandable that as a writer grows their writing style changes and it is pretty easy to pinpoint which book is the one that began the change, however; with Joyce I can’t seem to pinpoint when it happened. I’m not complaining, but it makes me long for classic Joyce.
I had high hopes for Persuasion because the blurb looked interesting and let’s face it I’m a bit of sucker for these types of novels of long lost love returned. Basically in a nutshull Amelia Greystone was sixteen when she fell deeply in love when Simon Grenville. She expected a proposal, but he abruptly ended the courtship. Ten years later he returns to Cornwall and asks Amelia to be his housekeeper. She of course can’t say no because he has children that need her help. There is of course the underlying issue of their past relationship. Simeon brings it up and Amelia likes to pass it off as the past. Amelia notices Simeon is distant with his children and quickly discovers he his a spy, but which country does he owe his allegiance to? England or France?
The idea was interesting, but Joyce failed to execute it in several places. Simon’s relationship with Amelia takes off quickly as he tries to scare her off by seducing her. At no point in time do Amelia and Simon have the talk. You know the talk as to why he left her the way he did. Later we are told that his brother who was the heir dies and it’s assumed that’s why he left Cornwall, because he now becomes the direct heir to his father, the Earl of St. Just. We are also told by Simon that his marriage to the countess wasn’t a happy one and that she and his brother would have been perfect. It is never implied, but assumed: the history of Simon’s brother with his wife. Were they once engaged and therefore Simon felt duty bound to offer for her hand? The reason why Simon becomes a spy is never addressed. That bothered me a little more than anything else. I got the feeling he didn’t care to be the Earl of St Just; it is a huge responsibility, but if he felt honor bound to ask for his wife’s hand then why throw it all away?
Now I know some readers have said that Amelia comes off a shrew because she tells Simon how to raise his children, how to manage his household, etc. I don’t see her as one, but more like a woman who is use to taking charge of a situation. Amelia has a mother who is ill and has been caring for her. This is one of the reasons why Amelia has never married. Joyce doesn’t tell us what her mother has, but I fully expect it be dementia. I did have a slight problem with the whole taking of the mother situation. How can Amelia be the housekeeper, oversee the kitchen staff, take care of his children, be on the lookout for Simon, and still take care for her mother?
The one key element missing to Persuasion? The reason why Simon couldn’t stop being a spy. I anticipate the reason why Joyce doesn’t tell us is because it will be addressed in a later book. The same reason why we aren’t told the full role of Amelia’s brothers and uncle’s as spies. Sadly I won’t be reading the rest of the series to find out the grand answer.
The story had potential, but quickly fell flat. I debated over the rating. I gave it a three for the slight sexual tension and for Simon’s espionage getting more screen time than the couple’s romance.