Gentle Persuasion is the sequel to Sharon Sala’s Always A Lady and like that book it is a very nice comfort read. The characters are all charming and likable, and the story moves along quite nicely. It isn’t until after you finish the book, that you realize that if Cole had only talked to Debbie right from the beginning, all their problems would have been solved. But then the book would have been only one chapter long.
In Always A Lady we met Debbie Randall, a friend of Case Longren & Lily Brownfield. Debbie meets Lily’s father and brothers at a barbecue and she and Cole the oldest brother are attracted to each other, a feeling that they both do their best to ignore. When Lily’s father Morgan, suffers a badly broken leg in a car wreck, Lily can’t fly out to help him (she’s 8 months pregnant) so Debbie volunteers to go.
Debbie is a dear. She is smart and sweet and very efficient – I couldn’t find one thing to criticize about her at all. Pretty soon, she has the Brownfield home running smoothly and the Brownfield men all adoring her. Even Buddy, the eccentric genius brother is doing what he’s told and keeping his room clean (I wish Debbie would come over and work some of her magic on my son)
Cole and Debbie can’t ignore each other here like they did in Oklahoma (she’s sleeping in the room across the hall from him), and they are powerfully attracted to each other. If Cole would simply talk to Debbie, all would be no conflict, but then there would be no book either. So here we go. Cole is a cop. And he knows that Debbie would not like being married to a cop. Not that he ever comes right out and asks, “Hey Debbie, would my being a cop bother you if we got married?” Nope, he simply clams up, assumes he knows her answer already and ties poor Debbie’s feelings in knots.
Cole, you are so TSTL.
Things come to a head when Cole’s partner Rick is shot and wounded by a punk and Cole is forced to kill the man to keep him from finishing Rick off. Cole angsts a lot. Oh woe! That could have been me! And what if I had been married to Debbie?! I could not force her to endure that! And I’ve killed a man! I’m a killer myself!
By this time, I wanted to turn Cole’s butt over to the Oklahoma football team for use in kicking practice. Luckily for him, he finally talks to Debbie and finally figures out what every other character in the book already knows. Debbie loves him deeply and she is as strong a woman as can be and perfectly able to cope with the danger and uncertainty of Cole’s job.
Despite the TSTL hero, I did end up liking this book. I’ve already mentioned Debbie – such a sweetheart! Cole’s father and brother are both sweethearts too. Buddy loves Debbie like he loves his sister Lily while Morgan adopts her as another daughter and worries that Cole will let this treasure slip away from him. We meet Case and Lily from Always a Lady again, along with their baby Charlie. The love scenes when Cole forgets to fret and worry about what Lily might think and expresses what he really feels are very tender and sensual.
I suppose I’ll keep Gentle Persuasion with Always A Lady on my comfort read shelf. I’ll just ignore the sections where Cole is acting brainless, and concentrate on the enjoyable parts which really do outweigh the silly ones.