Review by Christina Boyd
There is something so satisfying about reading the third book in a trilogy. We have become personally entrenched in the characters and we know that important events will be resolved soon. Book 3, The Lady Must Decide, of author Laura Hile’s Mercy’s Embrace series does not disappoint; resolving some plot lines and leaving others open for possibilities.
In this delightful continuation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, our heroine Miss Elizabeth Elliot realizes the time has come for her to forge her own future. With exceedingly shameful reminders of her father’s abandonment, and her wretched dependence on the generosity and hospitality of her sister Anne and Captain Wentworth, she knows the only way to survive is to marry. And marry well. But the dilemma is who? Dare she follow her heart? Or accept a loveless marriage of convenience?
Book 2, So Lively A Chase, left us dangling, breathlessly… all anticipation as to how Elizabeth would behave once she learned Patrick McGillvary’s true identity. Blessedly, this novel opens without missing a beat. “Look again dearest,” he said, very low. She was very near to the truth now. He saw her cheeks go pale.” p.12.
Not only does Elizabeth suffer from society’s gossips and her reduced circumstances, now she keenly feels the betrayal of her closest friend. Meanwhile, Sir Walter and Lady Russell’s brash and mysterious escape from his creditors seems to unravel out of control; I wondered if the usually strong-willed and practical Lady Russell would ever come to her senses! In addition, her brother-in-law, Charles Musgrove becomes exceedingly disgruntled with his peevish wife Mary while increasingly captivated by the neighbor’s kindly and attentive spinster sister. It’s no wonder with all the failings and heartache from the men in her life that Elizabeth might feel compelled to settle. “‘Be grateful for what you have, Mary,’ Elizabeth said roughly. ‘Though you do not think it much, you have a home and a family. You have a future as mistress of Uppercross. That is something, even if your husband is a disappointment. I believe most husbands are.’” p. 48.
Although there is a happy and satisfying resolution in this third book, some might argue Hile left much unanswered… which led me to surmise that a fourth book must be in the making. And lo… after a brief Facebook tete-a-tete, the authoress declared she is working on another installment. That said, this has been an incredible, satisfying series! Who would ever have believed Jane Austen’s pretentious, vain, selfish, and thoughtless Elizabeth Elliot would be a heroine of her own story? It is a rare and truly gifted writer indeed who can transform such a universally despised character to one so beloved and passionately championed. With Hile’s absolute understanding of Austen’s masterpiece, respectful interpretation of original characters, strong plots and subplots, I can only imagine, dear Jane could not but regard this series the ultimate compliment to her Persuasion.
At a time when all the new book hullabaloo is about E.L. James’ uber-sensationalized Fifty Shades of Grey, you may be looking for a great summer read that won’t make you blush at every page. I highly extol the virtues of Laura Hile’s Mercy’s Embrace series. It should be read sooner, then later. That is of course, unless you are into delayed gratification.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story, Book 3: The Lady Must Decide, by Laura Hile
Wytherngate Press (2010)
Trade paperback (208) pages
Grand Giveaway of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story
Enter a chance to win one of three (3) copies of Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1 – So Rough a Course, by Laura Hile, or one (1) full set of the trilogy which also includes Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 2 – So Lively a Chase and Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 3 – The Lady Must Decide, by asking Laura a question about her series or by sharing your reaction to any of the three reviews posted during our month-long author event each Saturday in May. Entrants will qualify for a chance at the drawing of one (1) copy of book one, or one (1) each of the entire set. Both print editions and ebooks are available. Contest ends at 11:59 Wednesday May 30th, 2012. Winners announced on Thursday, May 31st, 2012. Shipment internationally. Good luck!
© 2007 – 2012 Christina Boyd, Austenprose