Persuading Annie is the second Melissa Nathan book based on a Jane Austen novel. I reviewed Pride, Prejudice and Jasmine Field here. This time it's Persuasion which is getting a modern-day retelling.
This book starts off with Annie Markham, an heiress to the Markham fortune, going through a pregnancy scare in college with her boyfriend Jake Mead. Because of some well-meaning but overbearing relatives (her godmother Susannah and Susannah's daughter Cass), Annie is persuaded that Jake isn't the right guy for her, and they break up.
Seven years later, Annie's father, George Markham, CEO of Markham PR is in trouble, and the whole family is on the brink of financial ruin. With Susannah's advice, they hire an expensive consulting firm to save the company – a firm run by Jake Mead, the very same Jake that left Annie years ago. Annie's sisters Katherine and Victoria fawn over their expected savior, but Annie cringes at having to see Jake again. On top of that, she'll be seeing a lot of him, not only in board meetings, because in an effort to cut costs, Jake's people are staying on the first floor of the Markham mansion.
Overall: It's pretty easy to see the parallels between the original Jane Austen novel and this book, but I think this one didn't work as well for me as Nathan's other retelling. The problem I had was I never really fully bought into Annie and Jake, because at the beginning of the novel, when we see them as young and scared, I guess I didn't see much chemistry between them or reasons why they were together. Later when the two reconnected, I was haunted by the earlier impression. On top of that, Annie's personality was a quiet one. Despite being the main heroine, and having her own life apart from her family (with art and the Samaritians), and some quiet backbone, I thought that she mostly looked good standing next to her obnoxious relatives, especially her selfish sisters. This didn't make me really dislike the book, more like bought down the book from being a really good read. As usual the writing is well done - I had no trouble feeling bored or wanting to put the book down, and the ensemble of other characters also helped the story a lot. I liked the side story of Victoria and Charles – they went from annoying to human over the course of the book. There were a few sweet scenes with Annie and Jake, but as I mentioned – didn't completely work for me. Anyway, I have no trouble imagining this book as a romantic comedy, complete with the typical ending that comes with those movies, and I'm not sure if it's just me that didn't fully believe the romance (it may be). It's a good book to read now, at the start of the holiday season – the timeline for this book ends in Christmas and the New Year.