Author Joanne Markey does an excellent job of evoking the sights, sounds, and smells of her native Australia in Persuade Me (Daughters of the Bush, Book 1). Information about the country is sprinkled throughout the story using description and dialogue, giving the impression of a perfectly seasoned dish, such as a character’s comment about dodging a “roo” {kangaroo} during a journey. The use of Australian spelling and dialect also sets the tone for the story. A clever modernization of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the book diverges from the 18th century novel while maintaining the flavor of Austen’s social commentary and other themes. The characters are likeable and for the most part relatable. Because of Anne Elliot’s upbringing, she is meek and takes a while to stand up for herself which may frustrate some readers. Fred is a swoon-worthy hero, struggling with a past during which assumptions and meddling relatives created hurt and distrust. Internal dialogue with Anne and Fred takes the readers on self-actualization journeys with the characters, although at times the extensive monologues slow the pace of the story. Anne’s sisters are difficult, sometimes nasty, but not in a cliched sort of way. The resolution of these messy relationships is somewhat abrupt, but heartwarming. A great beginning to what promises to be an enjoyable series.

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