I’ve stated before in a previous review how I’m not a big fan of authors who are upfront and state the history of central characters and how they are connected. This approach can be either hit or miss, but in the case of Dark Persuasion, Vicki Hopkins does an amazing job setting up the plot and it defiantly is needed to understand the particular actions of certain characters.
Charlotte Grey was a child when an accident left her blind and she’s surprised her aristocratic neighbors are interested in being her sponsors and hold a ball in her honor. At the ball she meets two brothers, Patrick and Rupert, who are different as night and day. Both will battle for her hand, but which brother will win her heart and can a wrong be rectified?
Hopkins does an excellent job with historical research. She introduces Braille to the point of having Rupert translate a letter he wrote to Charlotte. There’s also the mention of guide dogs and although the time period is 1890 (the first official use of guide dogs from my own personal research indicates they were first used during World War I in Germany), I can let it go because in literature prior to the 19th century, in a few texts, they mention the blind being guided by a dog. I’m not sure of the extent of actual guide dogs as we know it prior to the First World War and I’m not nitpicking on the historical aspects because as I stated Hopkins does a superb job. She also keeps to social etiquette of the time and the language used doesn’t sound too modern.
Characters are well developed and you can easily see how two brothers become rivals. At the heart of the novel is Charlotte’s blindness and although she can’t see the world around her, she believes she can trust her own instinct. She tries to be independent and her family allows her the freedom she wants, but also cautions her. Like most young women she truly believes she can read people and their intentions. Rupert talks to her and she likes that he’s interested in getting to know her, whereas Patrick doesn’t say anything to her, but he has a reason for keeping quiet and keeping her at a distance. She believes someone opening themselves is how to truly communicate with one another. Your heart breaks for her and all she lost. In one poignant scene, she wishes she could see the face of the man she married. And in another scene her husband doesn’t quite realize what it would be like to be married to a blind woman until Charlotte’s sister is sitting next to them at the wedding breakfast and she’s helping Charlotte eat. He looks down at her place setting and he sees pieces of food all over as she attempts to eat.
What I really liked about Dark Persuasion is that Hopkins gives us a villain, who in the end repents for his actions. Sure it’s not the way we would like him to do it, but he realizes his follies and tries to atone for the way he acted towards Charlotte. There’s a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting, but overall it’s a satisfying read.
Please note: there is some history of abuse and if you are sensitive to particular situations you might not be comfortable reading this book. It’s not detailed, but it is mentioned and explained.
If you’re in a historical romance rut I highly recommend Dark Persuasion.