When I was approached by Jessica Dotta and asked to review her debut novel, Born of Persuasion, I will be the first to admit that I hesitated. Categorized as both gothic and Victorian in nature, I gave pause for 2 reasons. First, I didn't think I'd care for gothic literature. Second, Victorian era meant British and I've never read any British literature either. Did I really want to spend my time reading a book that was so far outside of my usual genre's? I could not have been more wrong! Let me repeat that - I could not have been more wrong and I was captivated from the beginning.
Born of Persuasion is the first book in a trilogy. The paperback edition of book one is 448 pages of pure bliss. Chapter one starts out with a bang and almost every page thereafter drips with mystery, intrigue, drunken rages, violence, love, suicide and deception. Jessica spins a tale of thickly interwoven plots and deftly drops nuggets of information like bread crumbs along a forest path. Just when you think you've figured out what is going on, she spins on her heel and take you off into another direction. It's a wild ride.
From the book jacket : The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.
With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.
Jessica's characters are well rounded and crafted with interesting backgrounds. Your mind will reel as you try to figure out how the players are connected. But Jessica shines in her narrative. She has a way with words that beautifully describes a scene and puts you in the center of the action. You will sense the coldness of the dark estate corridors, hear the electricity crackle between Mr. Macy and Lady Foxmore as they pursue their self interests at the expense of others, and wonder if Julia will succumb to seductive advances as she tries to piece together the unexpected puzzle that is her life.
Born of Persuasion is easily one of the best fictional books that I've had the pleasure of reading in a long time. I couldn't put it down because I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. I had several ah-ha moments and times where I actually thought to myself "Wow, I didn't see that coming!" or "Oh, that was excellent!" I think that I'm usually pretty good at figuring out who did what, but this book kept me on my toes and on more than one occasion I found myself frantically flipping back to double check something as I tried to piece it out. Book two in the trilogy, Mark of Distinction, doesn't come out for several months. I don't know how I am going to wait!
Born of Persuasion is available on Amazon. I don't think you necessarily need to be a fan of "British or Gothic" literature to appreciate this book. Jessica spins an intricate web of murder, mystery, intrigue, secrets, hidden agendas - what's not to like? The plot and characters are so good, and the themes of loss, conviction and faith intertwine like three cords in a braid. Pick up the book and unravel the mystery.
Please come back on Friday and join me. I have an interview with Born of Persuasion author Jessica Dotta all lined up. She shares her thoughts about the book, her writing process and offers a little advice to aspiring writers. See you then.
Please go visit Jessica Dotta's FB page and her website.
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I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review