Juliet Archer has recreated Jane Austen’s classic novels in her “Darcy & Friends” series. While I have not had the pleasure of reading the other book in this series, Archer instantly hooked me after the first few chapters in “Persuade Me,” the second book in the sequence. Based on Austen’s “Persuasion,” Archer recreates the scenes of Bath, Lyme Regis, and the luxurious Kellynch estate, while transforming the central characters into relatable individuals in today’s age.
The novel revolves around Anna Elliot, a Russian Literature professor, and her past lover, Rick Wentworth. After falling madly in love in France, Anna’s wealthy family forces her to sever ties with Rick after deeming his simple beginnings as unfit for a woman from the Kellynch estate. Years later, after publishing a bestseller book on the sexual activities of marine animals and pursuing a seven-week book tour, Rick reenters Anna’s life with one purpose: to put the past behind him. Armed with moderate wealth, swooning fans, and a supermodel girlfriend, Rick wants to show Anna how much she gave up all those years ago. However, as the two characters meet for the first time in ten years, things become complicated. Between Anna’s sisters-in-law vying for Rick’s attention, the mysterious masseuse Cléopatra Clé warming up to Anna’s wealthy father, and her sister’s, Mona, complicated marriage, Archer keeps the reader guessing what will happen next.
Even if you are not familiar with Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” Archer draws the reader into her world of undying love and family issues. The book presents the viewpoints of both Rick and Anna, allowing the reader to delve into the psyches of both characters and discovering how simple misunderstandings lead to humorous and entertaining plot turns. I found this novel impossible to put down and highly recommend it to any reader who enjoys the complexity of Jane Austen’s novels or just wants a good romance novel to curl up with. I will certainly be on the lookout for Archer’s next novel and wondering which characters she will chose next to introduce to the twenty-first century.
Four and a half stars.