Undue Influence, by Jenny Holiday
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Second chances only come around once.
Eight years ago, Adam Elliot made the biggest mistake of his life. Now that mistake is coming back to haunt him. His family’s beloved vineyard has gone into foreclosure, and the new owner is the sister of the only man he’s ever loved—the man he dumped under pressure from family and friends who thought the match was beneath him.
When Freddy Wentworth, aka the bad boy of Bishop’s Glen, left town with a broken heart, he vowed never to return. But a recently widowed friend needs his help, so here he is. He’s a rich and famous celebrity chef now, though, so everyone can just eff right off.
But some things are easier said than done. Despite their attempts to resist each other, old love rekindles—and old wounds reopen. If they want to make things work the second time around, they’ll have to learn to set aside their pride—and prejudice.
Look, I’m here for all the Jane Austen retellings you can throw at me, so I’m basically the perfect audience for a book like this. But I have to say, this stripped down, fluffed up, m/m retelling of Persuasion was just the thing I needed to ease my end-of-summer-vacation blues.
I’m not overly familiar with the original book, not like I am with Pride & Prejudice or even Sense & Sensibility, but I feel like the author took the best parts Persuasion, gave it a little m/m flavour and created a feel-good romance that doesn’t require a special degree in the collected works of Jane Austen to enjoy.
Much like in the original, the Elliot family are in a bit of an economic downturn. They’ve lost their home and their winery, and are moving out of their small town to make room for the people that have bought their house and property. Adam, with his head in the clouds but his feet still planted firmly on the ground, is trying to make the best of a bad situation. His plans include moving in to his RV and parking it at his brother’s place in order to stay in town and continue working at the auto repair shop owned by his friend, Rusty. His plans don’t include meeting Freddy again after all these years.
Freddy, his first love.
Freddy, the one that got away.
Freddy, the money behind the person who has just bought Adam’s home.
If you know Persuasion, you’ll know how the story goes. But really, if you know romance in general, you’ll know how the story goes. Getting there is the fun part and I enjoyed watching Adam and Freddy slowly work their way back together. The flashbacks help to fill in the years long gap in their relationship and the texts are a nice 21st century homage to the famous “I am half agony, half hope” letter in the original book.
About the only thing that didn’t work for me was Rusty’s character, or rather, his motivations in keeping Adam and Freddy apart. I felt like his reasons didn’t feel either strong enough or valid enough to keep a sensitive soul like Adam from someone he truly loved. Plus, his capitulation at the end was a far too sudden turnabout for someone so determined to stop Adam from making a rash decision.
In the end, though, I truly enjoyed Undue Influence and have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for a light-hearted story that will still tug at the heartstrings.
Jenny Holiday started writing at age nine when her awesome fourth grade teacher gave her a notebook and told her to start writing some stories. That first batch featured mass murderers on the loose, alien invasions, and hauntings. (Looking back, she’s amazed no one sent her to a kid-shrink.) She’s been writing ever since. After a detour to get a PhD in geography, she worked as a professional writer, producing everything from speeches to magazine articles. Later, her tastes having evolved from alien invasions to happily-ever-afters, she tried her hand at romance. Today she is a USA Today bestselling author of all sorts of romance novels: contemporary and historical, straight and gay. She lives in London, Ontario, with her family. She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary.
You can purchase Undue Influence from:
Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Barnes & Noble
Or add it to Goodreads
I received an advanced copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.