A Lady of Persuasion
As soon as I finish writing this review, I am going out and buying Goddess of the Hunt and Surrender of a Siren, the first two books in Tessa Dare’s series. If they are as good as A Lady of Persuasion, I know I am in for a wonderful time reading them.
In Goddess of the Hunt we met Sir Toby Aldridge, who was a friend of Lucy, the heroine of that book. In Surrender of a Siren, Toby was engaged to Sophia who ran away and ended up married to Benedict (Gray) Grayson. As this book begins, Toby is at a ball given by Lucy and her husband and sees Sophia and Gray there. He flirts with the notion of making a scene, but Toby is too good-natured to do such a thing. As he lounges around, surveying the room, he sees a stunningly beautiful young woman whom he sweeps into a dance, then dances her out onto a terrace where they talk. She is Isabel Grayson, the half-sister of Benedict Grayson, the man who stole Sophia from Toby.
As he continues to talk to her, Toby finds out that Isabel is a young woman with a social conscience. She grew up on Tortola, an island where slavery was practiced, and the native people were simply there to work, and make the landowners rich. Isabel burns with a fierce hatred of injustice and she yearns to make a difference, but as a woman her outlets are limited. She can’t serve in Parliament so she wants to do the next best thing – marry a member of the House of Lords and become a political hostess and a lady of influence.
Toby is nonplussed by Isabel’s passion for social justice. It’s not that he doesn’t care, but Toby is an amiable, rather indolent man who hasn’t thought about social problems. As Toby falls under Isabel’s spell, he begins to think that maybe serving in politics might gain her approval, and while he can’t be in the House of Lords, there’ s always the House of Commons, so he pretends to be interested in politics and standing for Parliament.
By the time they have finished talking, Toby has proposed to Isabel on his knees in front of the whole company and she accepts, to Gray’s displeasure. He quietly tells Toby that he will hurt him if he hurts Isabel, but Toby has no intention on hurting her or going back on his word. This is a true case of love at first sight. Toby is a man who has been struck by Cupid’s arrow and it has gone in deep.
Toby is simply the sweetest, most charming hero I have met this year. Tessa Dare doesn’t tell us he is so, she shows us. For example, when Toby takes Isabel out for an ice, she tells him that she will not eat anything made with sugar since it is produced by slaves. Later, when Toby comes to visit her when she is ill, he brings her an ice made with honey so she can enjoy a treat that will not cause her to compromise her principles. He shows little acts of kindness and courtesy all through the book. Toby has his share of faults, but they are only faults, not grave sins. He loves Isabel wholeheartedly, he wants her approval, he wants her love and slowly, the frivolous Sir Toby changes into a more serious man without losing his lightness and charm.
Isabel is very young, but she has experienced much – a debauched father, and a mentally ill mother along with all the social ills on Tortola. She rebels against injustice and throws herself into good works, so much so that she becoming ill. Isabel has all the good intentions in the world, but she needs to learn how to pick her battles. She is bowled over by the force of the love that she finds in her marriage with Toby (and it was a treat to read of a man and woman who loved being married). I don’t think that Isabel will ever lose her passion for justice, but she will learn to focus it where it will do the most good. As for Toby, he will continue to be the charming man he is, but he will become more serious and outward looking. They complement each other quite well.
I know that readers who have followed the first two books will get more out of this book than I did, but I wasn’t a bit lost and was happily engrossed in the story of Isabel and Toby. Tessa Dare has a delightful style and voice and I simply loved her characters. I will be looking forward to anything she writes in the future. Now I’m off to buy her first two books.