Review: Once Persuaded, Twice Shy by Melodie Edwards

Posted March 7, 2024 by Lucy D in Book Reviews, Contemporary / 0 Comments

Review:  Once Persuaded, Twice Shy by Melodie EdwardsOnce Persuaded, Twice Shy by Melodie Edwards
Published by Berkley on February 27, 2024
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
amazon b-n

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

This modern reimagining of Persuasion is full of witty banter, romantic angst, and compelling characters as it captures the heart of the classic Jane Austen novel.
When Anne Elliott broke up with Ben Wentworth, it seemed like the right thing to do . . . but now, eight years later, she’s not so sure.
In her scenic hometown of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Anne is comfortable focusing on her successful filling her late mother’s shoes as town councilor and executive director of her theater company. She certainly keeps busy as the all-around wrangler of eccentric locals, self-centered family members, elaborate festivals, and the occasional attacking goose. But the more she tries to convince herself that her life is fine as is, the more it all feels like a show—and not nearly as good as the ones put on by her theater company. She’s the always responsible Anne, always taken for granted and cleaning up after other people, and the memories of happier times with Ben Wentworth still haunt her.
So when the nearby Kellynch Winery is bought by Ben’s aunt and uncle, Anne’s world is set ablaze as her old flame crashes back into her life—and it’s clear he hasn’t forgiven her for breaking his heart. A joint project between the winery and Anne’s theater forces both Ben and Anne to confront their complicated history, and as they spend more time together, Anne can’t help but wonder if there might be hope for their future after all.


I like this modern retelling of Persuasion better.

In the modern retelling of Persuasion, our Anne Elliot is a town councilman as well as the head of the Elysian theater.   Everyone turns to Anne to take care of all their problems.  These were her mother’s long-held positions in the community when her mother got sick, Anne stepped in to keep everything running smoothly for her and when she died everyone just let Anne keep taking care of everything.

She’s also forced to take care of her dad and her older sister, Elizabeth.  I love how they would hint that they wanted food made for them by leaving out the everything on the counter for Anne to make for them. Ugh!

Part of Anne’s duties is to fund raise among the “blue bloods”. There she meets the couple who recently purchased her family’s old home and vineyard—Kellynch Winery —Colonel and Mrs Fairchilds.  Anne enjoyed meeting them until the mentioned that their newphew, Benjamin Wentworth, was coming to help them set everything up.

Ben and Anne dated for a year back when they were in University eight years ago. While Anne was pursuing her MBA in business, Ben kept changing his major, and his plans for the future was more travel ’til we run out of money. It was Anne’s mother that pointed out to Anne that she would end up dragging her spouse through life who is more a hindrance then a partner.  Breaking up with Ben left them both heartbroken but Anne had been persuaded it was for the best.

Ben shows up in Niagara on the Lake. He has changed significantly from the aimless young man to a venture capitalist, who owns his own firm.  He was also still very angry with Anne and spent his time with a young actress from Anne’s theater.  Anne knew in her mind that there was no going back but her heart still hoped apparently.

Often I read a second chance romance and I lament the loss of the years the characters missed not being together.  But in both Persuasion and this modern retelling, is it not Wentworth’s heartbreak that pushes him to be someone Anne would regret setting aside? If that heartbreak wasn’t there to push Wentworth to make something of himself, would he have remained rudderless and relying on Anne to take care of everything just like everyone else in her life?  This is one of those few instances where the characters needed that heartbreak and time away to become their better selves.

I was a fan of Jane Eyre when I read Jane and Edward.  I never read Persuasion and this time I decided to read the reimagining and then watch one of the movies.  I don’t think I would do that again since I was a bit distracted as to how the reimagined version of characters or plot was in the original story; such as when Anne decides to move out and leave her father, single women in the 1800s couldn’t just move out on their own when they had enough of their families.  The author noted that the 2007 version was her favorite so I watched that one. I enjoyed it but felt like the story was abbreviated and that I was missing a good deal of the character building.  I am going to watch the 2022 version before I move on to my next story.

My only issue was that the beginning was a bit slow going as we didn’t have very much interaction between Anne and Ben until almost halfway through the story and you can’t get back together until you spend more than 10 minutes in a room together.

Favorite Scene:

It was that which shamed Anne. And now Ben knew it too.

She cleared her throat. “Yes, my father gave it to the bank to relieve some other debts. It wasn’t making any money, so it was easier to give that one up, in order to keep the properties and investments that were still generating income. The winery business was too much work; he wound it down so it was only a family home after all. But,” she said, trying to inject some false cheer into her voice, “the colonel and Jenny will find it a very good business. It had lots of potential; it only wanted proper management.”

Ben didn’t respond to her reassurance; he still had that thoughtful expression, his eyes moving back and forth, like pennies were dropping.

“When we broke up…” he said, and Anne’s heart just about stopped to hear him talk about their relationship. It was the first time either of them had verbally acknowledged their entwined past.

“When we broke up…” he repeated, “this is why, isn’t it? This is what your mother foresaw, for you…if you stayed…with me.” He was still staring ahead, not looking at Anne. “I didn’t have a plan and I wasn’t thinking about the future. She thought I was irresponsible, and directionless, and no substance. And she thought you would have nothing but burdens in exchange.”

“Yes,” Anne whispered.

And then because she owed him more, more than that bungled explanation she gave him eight years ago, she went on.

“It was her life for as long as I could remember, though I didn’t always fully understand how it…how it shaped what she saw, how she saw you, and the future of us. She judged you, the way you dressed and spoke, but it was your free-spiritedness, to her it just seemed like…to both of us, because once she persuaded me to make the comparison I couldn’t unsee it and it looked so much like…Well, I know now that she was wrong. I’m glad that she was wrong, and you’ve done so well for yourself. But her fears had become mine and…”

Anne wanted to say more; she had some deep-buried family instinct to defend her father, to say he was basically harmless, just vain, and pompous, and attention-seeking, just living for the moment and not acknowledging that things could go wrong, and now that he was older, he was all the time increasingly foolish until you couldn’t help but pity him. But the consequences of those harmless little personality defects were not so harmless after all. She didn’t say any of this, just finished weakly with: “She was terrified I’d end up like her.”

“But you did anyway,” Ben said.


Ben turned, and for the first time since she got in the car he faced Anne dead on, his dark navy-colored eyes serious and intent under his furrowed brow.

“She didn’t want your life dragged around because you were chained to a useless partner, picking up after him and being pulled down by him. So, what the hell are you doing chasing around after your father and sister? Isn’t it nearly the same thing? Only you’re being burdened by your mother’s partner instead of your own.”

Anne stared at him, mind blank. She could only take in his beseeching expression, like he was willing her to understand something that she couldn’t wrap her head around.

She’d had so many moments of something nearing despair this evening, and then his stepping in, his witnessing it and helping her and physically putting her in the car to drive home, picking her up like he used to do so playfully when they were together and now all she had was this phantom version of it, and she was so emotionally exhausted that some part of her was simply screaming that she really could not take in one more thing.

But Anne was the queen of rising to the task–she could always mentally take in one more excruciating thing.

Her father chose that moment to wake up with a sleepy snort. “Oh, have we arrived? Anne, tip the man, would you?”

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