I was nervous going in to this read. I have been the biggest Johanna Lindsey fan since I first started reading romance, but unfortunately, a lot of her newer books haven’t lived up to some of my classic favorites. Stormy Persuasion is the eleventh book in the Malory-Anderson series and, while it doesn’t reach the same level as Gentle Rogue or Love Only Once, it is a pleasurable read.
I could probably divide this book right down the middle and have totally different views for either half. The first 150 pages of Stormy Persuasion need some serious focus. At first, I was struggling to decide who the heroine of this book actually is. The premise is that cousins Judith and Jacqueline are going to America to have their debut in society. With them both having “J” names plus nicknames (Judy and Jack), being the same age, and doing very similar things for a hundred pages, I couldn’t see who was meant to be the focus of this book. Once the story went on, Judith pulled ahead and finally got her own tale as things developed with Nathan.
In case you can’t recall where in the Malory clan Judith and Jack fall, they’re the children of James and Georgina and Anthony and Roslynn Malory. Also, in case you want a refresher on every person from all eleven books, Lindsey takes up close to the first 100 pages reintroducing every last family member in such a tedious fashion that it could have been replaced by a family tree in the front. That would have been preferable to the family roster disguised as a party.
When I had slogged through 150 pages of dry details that totally overshadowed the one tiny bit of plot we got to see, which actually would have been a fun way for the couple to meet if it hadn’t been so mired in everything else, I put the book down. I let it collect dust while I read other, more exciting things. I went back to my Lindsey collection and read some of her older works to remind myself why I had loved her writing in the first place. I lost track of how long I avoided coming back to what was turning out to be a majorly disappointing book. Finally, determined to finish it no matter what, I picked it back up.
Thankfully, the second half was so much better. Once Judith and Nathan got aboard the ship for America, we actually get to know them. There’s decent chemistry between the two. I enjoyed Nathan a lot because he actually had all the makings of a sweet, beta-male. Lindsey tries to fit some more alpha, roguish traits to him but I preferred his sweetness. He rescues a kitten to share with Judith and brings it milk, he is making a life for himself to raise his nieces, and, above all, his affection for Judith has a youthful feel to it. Compared to Lindsey’s earlier alphas like James Malory (my personal favorite), Nathan is a big puppy-dog.
I will say that Stormy Persuasion is nowhere near as sexual as some of Lindsey’s earlier works. It takes quite a while for things to heat up between the pair and, once it does, there’s a pretty quick jump from friends to lovers, but not with the same sexuality level as I used to expect from Lindsey. The pairing was a little rushed, presumably because so many pages were wasted on things not pertinent to the storyline. I thought that a young innocent like Judy would have more hesitation about jumping into bed, but I can forgive that.
Stormy Persuasion attempts to hearken back to the captain-and-lady-cabin-boy story from Gentle Rogue for a spell. I can see why Lindsey didn’t want to harp on that since she’s already done it, but I would’ve liked to see more of it. Really, I just wanted more Nathan and Judith in general. So much of their book got devoted to backstory on the families and the Catherine and Andrassy storyline that I would’ve liked to trim some of that out in order to spend more time with the very likeable characters.
There’s a lack of closure to the story that is obviously meant to set up Jack’s book. I’m looking forward to that one, as Jack is the more feisty and interesting of the two cousins. I just hope that Lindsey will be a little more economic with the familial information and just tell the story she’s trying to tell.