Saturday, September 27, 2014
I picked up this book whilst sharing a booth at SLC Comic Con from my fellow author and long time friend, Adrienne Monson. We were there as members of the Utah Fantasy Authors (UFA) branch of the League of Utah Writers (LUW). There were ten other authors involved in the UFA booth besides Adrienne and myself, everyone with a book or two to sell. Although I've only read a few of the books that we were offering in the booth I only took home two of them. One of them was Monson's new novella "Eyes of Persuasion" a historical romance with a fantasy twist thrown in for good measure.
Synopsis: When her parents are murdered, Lady Maybrick is taken in by an abusive uncle to help pay his gambling debt. But Isabeau has a secret, a talent hidden since birth. Her gift helps to keep her out of the whorehouse and out of trouble--that is, until she meets Everett Radcliff. Hard working Everett Radcliff detests high society and finds plenty of excuses to avoid it. But when he meets Lady Maybrick, he can't help but be enthralled by her violet eyes. When he hires an investigator to uncover a crook, his path crosses with hers, throwing them into a world of mystery, murder, and, surprisingly, love.
The Pros: "Eyes of Persuasion" is a fast-paced, plot-driven easy read. Set in eighteenth century London, taking us everywhere from high society balls, to the dirty hustle of the shipping industry of London's port. This tale is well researched making the reader feel as though they've fallen through the pages back into time. This book begins like many a historical romances with a unique, yet unappreciated, high-born maiden forced into an engagement with a man she doesn't love, but has no choice but to marry. However, Isabeau Maybrick is no ordinary lady, as we find out within the first couple chapters. The author endeavors to deliver a fresh look at this era with a heroine who has not only a special gift but some modern day gumption. Fast-paced and unpredictable this book delivers some interesting twists that will pleasantly surprise readers.
The Cons: Although well-written with it's attention to the details and lingo of the era, the story felt rushed. This might be due in part to the fact that it is a novella and not a typical novel. It felt more plot driven then character driven, a pattern I noticed in Monson's other book, "Dissension" (book 1 in the Blood Inheritance Trilogy) Depending on the reader this may or may not be a bad thing. My issue is, that with the plot taking up the entirety of the book their is little time to develop characters or create emotional depth in even the most intense scenes. I struggled to connect even with the principle characters, Lady Maybrick and Everett Radcliff. Although I found their relationship somewhat entertaining, the story rushes their romance along too quickly. Personally, I feel that the book would've been greatly improved had it been a regular novel; giving the characters more time to grow and their relationship would also feel more genuine. As it is, I found that I wasn't invested enough in the characters to be drawn into the suspense of the story. Some of the secondary characters felt very under developed and somewhat two dimensional such as Isabeau's abusive gambling Uncle Brig. Although he's not a huge part of the story, he's in it enough that I found his actions and motives puzzling because his character is never examined. He comes off more as a stereotype then a real character and this took me out of the story from time to time. The dialogue was a little weak here and there also taking me out of the action.
Overall the book is unpredictable and easy to read. It's length and ever twisting plot combined with the setting makes it an entertaining escape for a rainy day. I give it four stars. A decent book executed fairly well. But, as always, don't just take my word for it, go out and read it yourselves!
Now go forth and pick up this book "Eyes of Persuasion" and come on back to share your thoughts with us when you're done.
Till next time,