Mercy’s Embrace: So Lively a Chase, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 2), by Laura Hile – A Review

From the desk of Christina Boyd: 

Author Laura Hile’s So Lively a Chase, Book 2, in her lovely Mercy’s Embrace trilogy, continues with Miss Elizabeth Elliot struggling to manage her feckless, frivolous father and dwindling finances, all the while contriving to make a most propitious match for herself.  In this follow-up to Jane Austen’s Persuasion, our unlikely heroine Miss Elizabeth Elliot, painfully aware of her dangerous situation of being put “on-the-shelf” and no fortune of her own is conflicted.  Should she accept the hand of a fleshy, bungling yet obscenely rich suitor who she is certain she could easily lead by the nose, or follow her heart’s devotion with an obscure man into a humble, common existence?

Living on the kindness of her sister’s hospitality, she continues to resist the attentions of the clumsy Mr. Rushworth and her scheming cousin, Mr. Elliot, while believing herself to have fallen in love with a kind, comely and clever, however entirely unacceptable clerk, Mr. Patrick Gill.  All the while the handsome, moneyed Admiral Patrick McGillvary is struggling with his own self-inflicted troubles – knowing full well, the truth of his identity will surely bring on the wrath of Elizabeth, only to lose her forever.

‘I am thoroughly sick of lies!  I shall never tell another’

He regarded her solemnly over the top of his menu. ‘Never’

‘Not if I can help it,’ she said seriously.  ‘And let come what may!  Lying is… cowardly!’  Her words made him wince.  ‘Not everyone tells lies out of perverseness, Elizabeth.’ he said quietly. ‘Sometimes a lie begins as a simple jest, which then gets out of hand and grows.’ (81)

The newly married Anne and Captain Wentworth return to Bath, and find they now have a full house.  Not only is Elizabeth under their roof and protection, but sister Mary Musgrove, her husband Charles, and their children have also arrived. Sir Walter, still feigning illness whilst hiding from his creditors, is soon to be thrown into debtor’s prison, however, Lady Russell contrives an astonishing rescue.  The Musgrove’s marriage turns topsy-turvy when Charles finds himself enamored by a neighbor’s spinster sister. And the household is all-curious as to Elizabeth’s mysterious comings and goings… as well as her altered behavior.

‘What I think,’ said Anne, ‘is that you have been reading too many novels, Cousin Estella.  And that is not what you were invited here to do!’

‘But- what else was there?  I could hardly accompany your sister to her love-trysts!’

‘Her what?’ cried Anne.

Mary’s ringing laughter was even worse.  ‘Love tryst?’ she crowed Elizabeth?  ‘I don’t believe it for a minute.  Anne, she is jesting – she must be!  What man in his right mind would have Elizabeth?’ (13)

These amusing, well-developed ancillary plots helped drive the story; each so engaging and fast-paced, I could hardly believe how quickly I was turning pages just to keep up with all the action.  Hile’s masterful depiction of Austen’s pretentious, vain, selfish, and thoughtless Elizabeth Elliot is undergoing a glorious transformation before our very eyes as she experiences her own tribulations, humiliations and disappointment.  And if you thought the cliffhanger from Book 1 was unforgivable, be forewarned.  This ending will leave you breathless with anticipation!  Better to simply by the series in it’s entirety with one full sweep of the credit card.  Brava! Again, 5 stars.

5 out of 5 Stars



  • Mercy’s Embrace: So Lively a Chase, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 2), by Laura Hile
  • CreateSpace (November 25, 2009)
  • Trade paperback & eBook (300) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1984015471
  • Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance


We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Laura Hile © 2009; text Christina Boyd © 2012,

64 thoughts on “Mercy’s Embrace: So Lively a Chase, Elizabeth Elliot’s Story (Book 2), by Laura Hile – A Review

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  1. Since Persuasion is one of my favorites of Jane Austen, I am pleased that Laura Hile has taken up the story of the hedonistic Elizabeth Elliott. So much of what had made up her sense of self-worth was based upon clouds of illusion that Elizabeth does have a long, narratively insteresting way to go to become a “heroine.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually liked book 2 more than book 1, and that’s saying something. Book 3 is even better. There is only one problem. I want a book 4.


  3. I’ve always wondered what happened to elizabeth after end of persuasion. What inspired you to write this ?


    1. Patricia, the decision to take on Jane Austen’s “Other Elizabeth” had to do with the challenge she represents. And also because, you know, so many others were writing the Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice.

      Sadly, the so-opinionated Miss Elliot and I share too many unfortunate traits, though stunning good looks is not one of them. I’ve lived through a reduction in income and lifestyle. How would she cope?

      Then too, I wondered what would happen if I threw a likable, handsome, intelligent man her way, one who actually conversed with her as an equal. Would she fall hopelessly in love? And would she dare to follow her heart?

      Thanks for the question. :)


  4. I would love to win these. Our library doesn’t have them and I’ve already used up our book budget. I’m curious as to which interactions in Persuasion you based the evolution of Anne and Elizabeth’s relationship. It doesn’t seem like there was much to go on.


    1. Sally, I had to crawl around in Elizabeth’s head and figure out how she would see Anne. Answer: As downright un-sisterly!

      It’s true! Anne has no interest in clothes, shoes, fashion magazines, social functions, or gossip. She doesn’t share information, and when confronted with a troubling situation, hurries off to her bedchamber to think. You and I know why Anne is the way she is, and why she wisely does not confide in her sister or father, but Elizabeth doesn’t. Elizabeth speaks her mind, whereas Anne is careful.

      Very slowly does Elizabeth learn to value Anne. But not Captain Wentworth! :)


  5. ‘What I think,’ said Anne, ‘is that you have been reading too many novels, Cousin Estella.’
    How many times have I heard that said to me!! Well, I know worse weaknesses!
    I love reading and your serie sounds like a really good one.


    1. I have to be careful with books, Catherine. Because when I’m in the middle of a wonderful story, I’m lost. If the house catches fire, there I will be, saying, “I’ll be right out. Just let me get to the end of this chapter …”

      Thanks for your interest in Mercy’s Embrace!


  6. This series sounds fascinating! I admire your courage in tackling such an unloveable character. How did you resist the temptation to turn her into a victim or a harridan? I would love to win Book 1; the series would be even better! Thank you for this opportunity.


    1. Lauren, I suspect the attraction had to do with my personal identification with so many of Elizabeth’s characteristics! (I wish being pretty were one, but it isn’t.) And then, having begun, I had to continue writing. And writing.

      Elizabeth can’t be a complete victim, because she’s an active participant in the choice to put herself first. But neither is she a harridan. Though I must say, when she hurls verbal abuse at her loathsome cousin, William Elliot—who thoroughly deserves it! —we cheer her on.

      Thanks for stopping by to enter the giveaway.


  7. I’m honestly interested in hearing more about the Elizabeth Elliot transformation. I really hated her.


    1. You have good reason to hate her, Robyn, especially if you’ve seen the movie adaptations of Persuasion. There’s not enough screen time to show a stunningly beautiful Elizabeth, perfectly behaved in public but coldly aloof in private.

      I’ve made her more intelligent, and have ramped up the snark factor in her speech. (Jane Austen’s Elizabeth, like her father, Sir Walter, did not have a sense of humor, I fear.)

      Thanks for your interest.


  8. I can’t imagine all three sisters under the same roof–with their father—and forced into the appearance of treating Anne with respect! Love, love this premise!


    1. Hi June! Sadly, I discovered that Anne shows best only when she’s up against trouble. She certainly has her hands full when her family shows up. This time, though, she has not only the household staff, but also Captain Wentworth, solidly behind her.

      Although Captain Wentworth and Anne are minor characters in Mercy’s Embrace, there are some precious scenes. Like when he walks in as Elizabeth is describing what she thinks of his intellect and accomplishments. Ouch!


  9. Mercy’s Embrace sounds like a fantastic read full of twists and turns. I am curious about how you developed the plots for each book. Did you write them all at once or one at a time? Thanks so much for the giveaway!


    1. Marilyn, you’re not the only one wondering how I developed so many twists of plot! I am still scratching my head. One of my middle-of-the-night worries involves those pesky continuity errors — for surely there are some we’ve missed! OH well.

      So, yes, Mercy’s Embrace was outlined, very generally, as one book. It developed a life of its own, though, particularly where the side stories were concerned. Time after time I’d write myself into a corner. But because it was “published” serially online, going back and changing things wasn’t an option. I had to think my way out.

      Then too, I was privileged to have a smart bunch of readers. They would post guesses, which I took delight in turning upside down!

      A small press cannot compete with the large brick and mortar houses when it comes to book size. The cost to produce a 800-odd page book was prohibitive, so it was split into three volumes.


    1. Austen provides such a diverse cast of characters. It’s such fun to take them out of the box and see what happens! Thanks for the kind encouragement, Mary.


  10. Everyone has asked really good questions, I can’t think of one that has not already been answered. So I am wondering, are there other Austen characters that you have considered writing about?


    1. Lynn, Austenprose readers have suggested Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park as being a candidate for a story. I’ve got several books in the pipeline (two of them Mercy’s books), but I’ll take a long, careful look at her.


  11. Hi Laura: Who else besides Miss Austen do you draw inspiration from? I’ve read Frances Burney, Samuel Richardson, the Bronte sisters and Georgette Heyer, to name a few that I enjoy? Is the inspiration for this trilogy strictly Jane?


    1. Okay, Jeffrey, here goes.

      Favorite writers: Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, PD James (I know, I should be writing mysteries), CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien.

      Favorite “romance” writers: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Elizabeth Gaskell.

      I daresay Mercy’s Embrace is a mix of all of these!

      I struggle to find the correct genre for these books. I really don’t fit in the Romance category, though there is romance. (I’m not big on bedroom antics. The times I’ve attempted to write a “hot” scene I’ve ended up all embarrassed and laughing. Laughing! How sad is that? As my students would say, “Epic fail!”)

      So these books aren’t mysteries, or thrillers, or women’s literature, or chick lit or young adult, or romance. Perhaps a combination of all?

      Thanks, Jeffrey, for your interest. :)


      1. Oh my Laura, you’re a kindred spirit! I too have read almost ALL of C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien. I’ll add L. M. Montgomery to my list of favorite authors. I’m the “incurable romantic” but I also prefer the bedroom door to be firmly closed (!)


        1. Ha! While my friends in junior high were reading the latest issue of Tiger Beat, Jeffrey, I was reading L M Montgomery! :)

          As to what goes on behind the bedroom door in fiction, I heartily agree with my good friend, author Susan Kaye. “People don’t write sex as well as they think.”


  12. Do you think if her mother had not died, that Elizabeth would have turned out to be the same unlikable character she is in Persuasion? Or would her vanity and self-absorbtion been put in check? I’m curious to read your books and see how you turned a rather unlikable character into the heroine.


    1. Catherine, I’m sorry! I missed seeing this yesterday!

      It’s a tough call to make. Elizabeth was, I think, 16 when her mother died, a tricky age for a girl. (Or for anyone, for don’t we think we know it all in our teens?) I took the liberty of having Sir Walter pitch her directly into her mother’s role of hostess for his dinners, etc. (Anne was sent to school at that time—I’m on lunch break at school myself, so I don’t have time to look this up!) This, coupled with the fact that she was so very beautiful, surely went to Elizabeth’s head.

      Elizabeth, Lady Elliot was the stabilizing factor in Sir Walter’s financial life. What a liberating thing when he was set free from her strictures! He indulged not only himself, but also Elizabeth, and this contributed to her arrogance. She had a only small fortune—a share of the ten thousand pounds from her mother—but so much beauty that Sir Walter’s matrimonial ambitions knew no bounds. But she returned from London year after year without a husband. Sir Walter obviously thought nothing of this, but I bet Elizabeth did.

      Your other question, (about turning an unlikable character into someone we can root for) strikes to the heart of the craft of romantic comedy. That is, I must bring Elizabeth to confront disappointment and failure, but subtly. It’s a tricky dance, comic writing. I don’t want the reader squirming in embarrassment, because this stops the flow of the story. (My struggle with clumsy “comedy” movies that try too hard to be funny—and aren’t.)

      And there’s the bell … end of break! Thanks for your questions!


  13. Another great review of this series!! I am really looking forward to reading this series myself! Persuasion is one of my top favorite’s of JA’s stories… and I am yet another who couldn’t stand Elizabeth Eliot!! LOL I’d have liked nothing more than to have been able to reach through the pages (or my tv screen) and smack her a good one!! ;) LOL

    I have to say that there were several phrases throughout the postings/responses that really caught my attention –
    1: The “snark factor”!! Haaa!!! LOVE it!! I’m sure that a sense of humor was lacking, but snarkiness …well, let’s just say… I love “snark”!!! :)
    2: …”When I’m in the middle of a wonderful story, I’m lost. If the house catches fire, there I will be, saying, “I’ll be right out. Just let me get to the end of this chapter …” I’ve said pretty much the same thing on many occasions! ;)
    3: From the end of the review: “Better to simply by [buy] the series in it’s entirety with one full sweep of the credit card.” That will SO be ME!!!! :)


    1. Oops thanks for my typo catch by and buy. It was well after midnight when I finished this and our blogmistress, LaurelAnn is laid up from an accident.


      1. No worries ;) I’ve had many late nights where my fingers have stuttered across the keyboard too! LOL :) I’m sorry to hear that LaurelAnn’s laid up…. Hope that she’s ok and on the mend ;)


    2. See, Valerie, the thing about reading that non-bookworms don’t realize, is that one becomes friends with the author! (At least I do.)

      This is why, when I find an author I can trust, I hunt up all of her/his books and curl up with snuggly blanket. Never mind that most of my favorites are, well … dead!

      Bless Christina for her “swipe-and-buy” comment! During May the cost for my ebooks (and print books at the Wytherngate Press website) is reduced. At $4.99, you can buy all three ebooks for the regular price of one print book.

      Thanks for your interest, Valerie!


      1. I totally agree with “becoming friends” with the author – if I love an author, I do pretty much the same in buying up everything they’ve written & that I can get my hands on. I really enjoy scooping up that book & getting into my comfy spot… and just escaping into the story. Such a great deal on the eBooks! Thanks for sharing that ;) And Thank You also for the giveaway (which I forgot to say in my original post).


  14. This series sounds delightful! I just love the covers! I would ove to read them thank you for the giveaway.



  15. Another great review making me want to read this series! I´m really interested in getting to read more about Elizabeth. And also about the snippest of Anne and the Capt., the Musgroves.

    And Christina, what a wonderful job you are doing with these reviews! So well written, intriguing, jet not giving away too much! Perfect!


  16. I wasn’t aware of these books, sounds very interesting. I often wondered what would happen to Elizabeth Elliot. She’s a very interesting choice of main character for a follow up as she is not somebody who the reader warms to! Will we begin to care for her? I always found her deeply unpleasant!


    1. “Deeply unpleasant” is a lovely way to characterize our Elizabeth, Ceri. Especially if you’ve seen the movie adaptations of Persuasion!

      I suppose she represented a challenge in the ‘same-old, same-old’ world of fan fiction. Her natural arrogance—and the self-assurance of Admiral McGillvary, who is her romantic foil—fairly begged to be written. Plus, Elizabeth is not afraid to say those cutting things that I wish I could—if I could think of them in time, which I can’t. For example, she puts that smooth-talking William Elliot in his place like nobody’s business! We can’t help but cheer her on. Verbal battles are lovely fun to read, and even more fun to write!

      I guess I should also confess that I wanted to mess with readers of Austen fiction a bit. I mean, why give them a story to which they could guess the ending? So I set out to create something unpredictable. If you read Mercy’s Embrace, let me know if I’ve succeeded, okay? :)


  17. Laura I asked you on a different blog about the difficulty you have of getting the characters to behave but now I am curious to know what has been the weirdest question you have gotten either about writing this book or about being a writer in general.


    1. Danielle, I’ve been thinking all afternoon about this question…in between the weirdness of teaching middle school! :)

      Since being published, people seem to think it’s weird that men read—and enjoy!—Mercy’s Embrace, owing to the fact that the first book’s cover is so flowery and pink! And yet I had quite a few male readers when the story was being posted on-line (years ago). And my dear step dad, who swears he does not like this kind of fiction, giggled his way through all three.

      If I think of another weird question, I’ll come back and let you know.


      1. I think it is great that so many men are reading them. It means a better chance that we may get some to transform into Darcy or Wentworth! :-)


  18. I am ready for book 4. This was a wonderful series. The change in Elizabeth when she is out of her father’s direct influence is remarkable. Sir Walter continues to be an idiot….sorry. But Elizabeth finally becomes what she always aspired to be and that is a true lady. Thanks for these books


  19. Maggie, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed Mercy’s Embrace!

    Yes, Sir Walter is an idiot, and I probably should have killed him off before now—he surely deserves it! But he comes to the rescue, plot-wise, with his foolish antics and keeps us rolling our eyes, wondering what he’ll do next.

    One of the reasons for books 4 (and 5?) is to stick it to Sir Walter. Because William Elliot is not the only villain, is he? Sir Walter has that uncanny knack of landing on his feet! And we can’t have that.

    I appreciate the kind words, Maggie. A sincere recommendation sells books better than any advertisement! :)


  20. “Better to simply by the series in it’s entirety with one full sweep of the credit card.” !! Well said !
    i’m thinking i agree :) ! or win the full set for another option !

    well done, Laura ! excited to see these reviews and the sloooow reveal thruout this month of May.. tion ! it works :)

    glad your mom wanted more… we’re all benefiting :))

    wondering who designed and decided on the gorgeous covers? very apropos!


    1. Hi, Faith hope! I’m sorry to be tardy in answering your comment.

      I’m so happy to know you like the covers. Margaret, who has commented to these articles as well, is also lavish with her praise. The next books in the series will have the same look—green for the 4th, with an Irish harp, I think, since McGillvary heads out to his homeland. More trouble. Which means, of course, a better story.

      Thanks for the encouragement!


  21. Winning would be great as the book budget is exhausted for now.
    Thanks for this great giveaway. It is interesting that today when so many women act like men that they still respond to the times when women were femenine and protected by men, n’est-ce pas?


    1. Sylvia, I hear you! The book budget is always exhausted, it seems. Because I have a Kindle, I’ve discovered the wonders of buying an Amazon gift card at the grocery store (when I have extra cash). Aha! How lovely to have a credit in my account, so that when I see a book I want, I can immediately snag it.

      As to your comment about men and women, I quite agree. Why do Austen’s heroes retain their appeal? In part because today’s woman has discovered the unhappy, time-honored truth about wearing the pants. That is to say, once she acts like a man (handling things and being the responsible one) the man in her life joyfully reverts to being a little boy. And nothing kills romance faster than the Mother Instinct applied to a husband. Maddening, isn’t it?


  22. I think it interesting that a designing woman and a man pretending to be something he’s not, both of whom desire the love of the other, will be an interesting plot line. Can’t wait to read this trilogy.


  23. Each review I read sounds riveting. I love that Anne and Captain Wentworth return in this one. I also enjoy that the reader will really understand the difficult choices that Elizabeth has before her as a woman of her time.


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