Review copy was received from Author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Persuaded to Sail by Jack Caldwell
on May 11, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia. But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife. All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board
After Captain Frederick Wentworth wrote that astoundingly romantic letter and saw eight years of desolate separation ended with Anne at his side, did they sail off into the wide, blue sea happily ever after? Persuaded to Sail picks up where Jane Austen’s Persuasion left off and tells a sequel of quiet romance strengthened through adversity and daily life, life aboard a warship during the last days of the Napoleonic Wars, and the subtle maneuverings of a British spy.
I madly adore this author’s Jane Austen’s Fighting Men’s series and this latest installment was no exception. Persuaded to Sail is the third in the series of loosely connected books and cleverly connected to Jane Austen’s original novels. This one mainly follows the events of Persuasion, but also has a secondary romance for two engaging young side characters from both Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility. The reader would do fine if they treated this like a standalone and even if they got it out of order and want to go back for the other stories. If the reader is at least familiar with Austen’s novels, these are even better, but even without the prior books, these give a reader enough so they aren’t lost.
Persuaded to Sail begins with a series of setting up, introductory scenes with Captain Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot’s wedding, with the early days of Lt. William Price meeting Miss Margaret Dashwood at Mansfield Park, and a cagey spy wanting out of the spy business even as his spy master thinks to send him on an extremely perilous mission that will begin when he is transported part way by Captain Wentworth.
The three threads twine well together and the latter two stories remain in the background as Anne adjusts to married life at the same time as being a Navy Captain’s wife aboard his ship, The Laconia. There is a good bit of explanation about life, duty, and work aboard the ship which reminded me of the old classic Age of Sail stories by Forrester and O’Brien. There is also the tender and quietly difficult work of making a young marriage work. The pair are both seasoned adults, but Anne soon discovers with difficulty that there is a difference between her husband, Frederick, and her ship’s captain. I found it all intriguing and enjoyed meeting the characters aboard the Laconia as well as the two extra passengers. Laconia is meant to go straight to its assignment patrolling the waters around Bermuda for pirates and French privateers, but must make a secret stop for a certain gentleman spy whose polite attentiveness to Anne drives Frederick wild.
There were two crisis points and both were pretty exciting in their own ways. One, I will offer a trigger warning for sexual assault for those who cannot or do not wish to read even indirectly about such things and the other, I’m sure you can guess- Navy ship… time of war…ha!
The writer wrote with a strong, articulate grasp of historical setting, British military of the time, culture, society, and Austen’s novels. The past vividly comes to life with several fascinating naval customs and rules specifically focused on. I had no trouble hearing the wind humming in the lines, sails snapping above, and creak of the ship’s timbers, but also the sense of cramped quarters, smell of the bilges, and staleness of food when long at sea.
All in all, it was a fabulous sequel to a fan of Jane Austen and Age of Sail stories like I am. I can’t recommend this series enough and am glad to note there will be further books in the series. I would recommend this to those who enjoy sweeter historical military romance, Regency era historicals, and of course, Jane Austen fans.
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