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Persuade Me by Juliet Archer

If I tell you that Jane Austen is one of my favourite authors and has been since I was a teenager; that Persuasion is not only my favourite of all her books but one of my all-time favourite books; and that Captain Wentworth is my favourite literary hero, then you’ll probably understand why I might have been slow to flick open Juliet Archer’s Persuade Me, a modern retelling of Persuasion.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for modern revamps of classic books and films. When they’re done well, they can give you a fresh take on the original and guide you back to revisiting an old friend or introduce you to a new one. But when they’re done badly, they’re a travesty and I rue the loss of valuable reading or viewing time.

Happily, Juliet Archer has done a fantastic job with Persuade Me and my love of Persuasion not only remains undimmed but it might even have been reinforced, if that’s possible. The beauty of ChocLit titles is that they offer you the story not only from the heroine’s perspective but also from that of the hero and, with such an appealing hero as Rick Wentworth, that’s one of the main draws here. You finally get inside Wentworth’s head and find out what he’s thinking and feeling. Being able to do so does mean that the Will-they?, Won’t-they? suspense of the original is compromised slightly but Juliet Archer handles things in such a way that she still manages to retain much of the tension, right up to the last possible moment. Besides, it was terrific fun to see just what a modern Wentworth might be like. Rick Wentworth, marine biologist, is a clever imagining of what Austen’s hero could be today. He’s every bit as passionate and impulsive as the Captain Frederick Wentworth of the original.

The heroine, Anna, is a character that I couldn’t help liking and wouldn’t mind being friends with, were she real. I also loved the Musgrove family and the Crofts every bit as much as I did the ones in Austen’s novel and I definitely approved of Mrs Smith’s modern-day equivalent and her situation. That was a lovely touch. It was a lot of fun to recognise each and every modern equivalent of much-loved (or hated, in some cases) characters and I enjoyed how Juliet Archer updated the key events, making it especially relevant in our seemingly celebrity-obsessed times.

You don’t need to know or love Persuasion to enjoy Persuade Me. The book easily holds its own and is a great read in its own right and, if you haven’t read Persuasion, you’ll hopefully enjoy Persuade Me enough to want to see where the inspiration for it came from.

I read Persuade Me straight through in one sitting. I hadn’t meant to but once I started I didn’t want to put it down, even though I knew exactly how the story would end. I eventually finished it around 5am on Monday. That’s the sign of a good read in my book.

Persuade Me is Juliet Archer’s second book in the Darcy & Friends series (modern retellings of Jane Austen’s six complete novels) published by ChocLit. The Importance of Being Emma is also available from them. You can find out more about Juliet Archer on her Author Website, by reading her Blog or you can Follow Her on Twitter.  

If I Could Be Anyone, I’d Be…

Photo credit: Dave Hogan
Photo credit: Dave Hogan

… P!NK! Who wouldn’t want a name with a punctuation mark in it, for starters? I mean, isn’t that every writer’s dream?!

P!nk’s someone who I really admire. She always seems to do her own thing without bowing to peer or media pressure which is no mean feat these days; she’s ballsy, bolshie and smart but never takes herself too seriously; she appears to live life to the full and has an absolute blast while doing so; she clearly loves what she does and always seems to have so much fun at her concerts while putting on an incredible show for everyone there; plus, the woman is super-fit – I mean, she sings while twirling around upside down on an aerial silk, for pete’s sake! I SO want to do that! (Well, maybe not the singing part.)

Why am I declaring my girl crush on P!NK?

Well, Talli Roland, one of my favourite writer pals, launches her second novel, Watching Willow Watts, today. It’s a fun, fast-paced read that hurtles along as Willow’s life careens out of control after footage of her doing a Marilyn Monroe impersonation at the village fete is uploaded to the Internet. Willow becomes an overnight YouTube sensation and is propelled into notoriety, which may or may not be the answer to all her problems.

To celebrate the launch, Talli’s having an If I Could Be Anyone, I’d Be… blogsplash. She’s asked everyone taking part to blog or tweet who else they would like to be, if they had the choice. It can be someone you admire, envy or even just fancy being for the day. To check out Talli’s own choice, as well as everyone else’s, click on the link above or follow the #watchingwillowwatts hashtag on Twitter.

Watching Willow Watts is available now for Kindle. You can download it from both or Amazon UK and you don’t need a Kindle to be able to read it. It’s out in paperback on November 30th. 






Time for Change

Help sometimes comes from the most unexpected of sources, doesn’t it?

This summer, I had to put my writing on hold to earn some money. Shocking, I know, but apparently money is still useful, particularly if you want to pay your bills and eat. Rather than just take any old job to get some money together, I still wanted to spend my summer doing something that I love and, happily, I managed to do just that by putting my TEFL experience to good use and taking in homestay students. This involves foreign students, who want to improve their English, coming to live with us as part of the family for 2-3 weeks at a time. They get formal lessons in the morning for a set number of hours and then we spend some time, a couple of afternoons and a day at the weekend, on excursions which enables them to practise their language skills and, hopefully, also shows them something of my local area and culture. It was hard, hard work being “always-on” with the student(s) living with us but I did also have a lot of fun, too.

As with any teaching I’ve ever done, I learnt a great deal – both about myself and my language. But I think the most important thing I took from my Summer of Students is what it was like to be 15/16. A time when I felt that I could do anything I put my mind to and go anywhere to do just that. Admittedly, I was realistic about my limitations even back then. I never thought for one minute that I would wow the world with my singing or that my tennis skills could win me Wimbledon but I did believe that if I worked hard at the things I was passionate about, actually good at and enjoyed, then there was no reason for me not to be successful at them. Not if I were doing all I could to make it happen.

Do you remember that feeling and how great it was? Perhaps you managed to hold on to it. I didn’t. It got trampled in exam failure, job hunts, job losses, divorce, the loss of a parent and all of the other ‘stuff’ that life throws at you from time to time.

But thanks to Beatriz, Céline and Andrea, I believe that I can reclaim it or, at least, some semblance of it. (A huge thank you from me, girls. You are, all of you, extraordinarily talented young women and an inspiration.) So, I’m making some changes, taking more chances and forcing myself out of my comfort zone to see if that helps me get back on track and rediscover the risk-taking teenager who I know is still in there somewhere, however deeply buried! Because rather than boring myself – and everyone else! – stupid with a long list of excuses, I’d much rather be the kind of person who sees a challenge and says “Oh, why not?” and then gives whatever it is a go.

When was the last time you did something that scared you?

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

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