Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

Title:  Seeking Persephone
Author:  Sarah M. Eden
Series:  The Lancaster Family #1
Genre:  Romance/historical fiction/mythology & fairy-tale retelling (?)
Pages:  288

Rating:  B+

Synopsis from  The Duke of Kielder has more influence than Parliament, higher social standing than the Royal Family. No gentleman dares face him on the dueling field, nor risks testing his infamous temper. But His Grace is in need of a wife. Combine his fearsome reputation with a terribly scarred countenance and finding a lady willing to accept his hand becomes all-but impossible. When the Duke manages to secure a bride through a bit of trickery and an obscene amount of money, he is certain his problems are behind him. Except his purchased bride proves to be nothing like he expected. What is a man like the Duke to do with a bride who is gentle, loving and absolutely impossible to live without?

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So I'm not sure if I should classify this as a mythology retelling or a fairy-tale retelling or both.  Seeking Persephone is first and foremost a historical romance, but the Hades/Persephone storyline was also there, as well as Beauty & the Beast.  But I guess you could also argue that most Hades/Persephone romances are essentially Beauty & the Beast in the Underworld.  Whatever.

What I Enjoyed
  • The characters  -  This book has a great cast of characters with depth and personality.  Persephone and Adam are wonderful main characters that I was able to connect with because the author gave them good emotional depth and development.  Persephone is believable as a sweet and vulnerable young bride who decides to make the most of her marriage.  Adam is so cranky that it makes him both humorous and lovable.  His scars and past have left some deep personal wounds that he deals with by never letting people in.  The two of them are so perfectly matched for one another; I loved that the story is told from both of their points-of-view.  The secondary characters are mostly much smaller parts and only there to provide necessary insight to Adam and Persephone when needed.  Except for Adam's best friend, Harry.  Harry is a great secondary character; he's funny and kind and unafraid of Adam's temperament.  He provides the comic relief, and his banter with Adam is hilarious.
  • The romance  -  The romance between Adam and Persephone is sweet and endearing and believable.  There's no love-at-first-kiss or ridiculously fast-paced relationship; instead, their love grows over time and after facing obstacles.  Because the romance is slow-building, it's filled with emotional and physical tension that's spine-tingling.  It's also full of those frustrating moments (the misinterpretations, the keeping distances, the not telling each other anything) that make you want to scream but also make the romance that much more satisfying when they finally get it together.  I definitely think this is one of the best versions of the Beauty & the Beast theme, even if it's not what the author intended.
What I Disliked
  • The mediocre writing  -  This book would have definitely gotten an A if it had not been for the quality of the writing and the tendency at the end for melodrama.  Eden was able to create interesting characters and a beautiful romance, but her writing often broke the "show; don't tell" rule.  It felt like she could have used a good editor to weed out the cliches and overly dramatic moments.  But even though the writing wasn't spectacular, I still loved the book.

Seeking Persephone is a sweet historical romance with a fairy-tale feel to it.  It has humor, tension, drama, and heart.  I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good love story or regency romance or the story of Beauty & the Beast.    B+

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