A Lady of Persuasion - Tessa Dare Warning: GIFS and light spoilers ahead!

Blergh di blah crap.

There are no words to describe what a tedious experience reading this book was. I have no one but myself to blame. Well, I suppose a portion of the blame can fall on my GR buddy Karla for this buddy read. We went into it for the LULZ and suffered instead, the blood of bad romance staining our hands forevermore. Our mistake, I guess.

A Lady of Persuasion isn't much of a story. Reading it was like watching one of those reality shows where stupid people talk about their private lives and do nothing. And just like the cretins on reality TV, I didn't give a flying freak about the book's characters because they're so. goddamn. stupid. The most frustrating part about Dare's writing is that she can write. Sentences are written with clarity, punctuation is used correctly, and words are actually spelled right. Her craft breaks down in the plotting and characterization. Plot urgency is non-existent, and character growth falls by the wayside. So much time is dedicated to trying to be fucking clever that nothing of consequence happens. Also, just in case you missed it before, the characters are fucking stupid.

So, let me break this down as briefly as I can for you. Images will be used to break up the monotony. If you're reading my breakdown and think, "Wow, her summary of this story doesn't make any sense," that's because the actual story doesn't make a lot of sense. Also: there's a medium to high chance that this book broke me sometime last week, making it entirely possible that I can't write a summary that makes sense. You'll understand why in a moment.

Basically, this is the story of two strays from an established series. Everyone else has already hooked up with their soul-mates, leaving Sir Toby and Isabel to hook up in a pair the spares scheme. Bel traveled to England with her brother Gray, the hero of the last story, from her home in Tortola. She's one of those reformer types who gives genuine reformers a bad name, so from the start, reading anything from her perspective is like eating dinner with a vegetarian who glares at you when you order a cheeseburger. Bel's brother kindly gives her a fancy debut, and she decides to use it in the most insincere, mercenary way possible. She wants to marry a man of influence so that she may become a lady of influence (this term is used so many times that I could create a drinking game out of it) and pretty much operate him like a puppet to further her "causes." At her debut, she meets Sir Toby, the jilted ex-fiance of the last story's heroine. Naturally, he embodies the frivolous lifestyle that Bel finds so distasteful, but he also has a boner for Bel's half-Spanish/half-English looks and doesn't seem to mind that she's a horrible cow 97% of the time. Toby initially pursues Bel because he wants to get back at Gray for stealing his girl. Bel scoffs at the idea of marrying a measly sir, which is laughable because she's pretty much a NOBODY from an island. Does she really expect to catch a duke or even a viscount? OK, Bel, sure.

None of this matters, though, because Bel and Toby end up engaged IN THE FIRST SCENE. The build-up is so intense, I tell you. Blah, blah, blah ... they fool around a bit ... blah, blah, blah, Bel acts like a bloody cow ... blah, blah, blah ... marriage and gratuitous sex ... blah, blah, blah ... Toby runs for the House of Commons ... blah, blah, blah ... everything sucks ... blah, blah, blah ... inconsequential fight that means nothing ... blah, blah, blah ... reunion, the end.

Since the plot is just a bunch of meandering bullshit, I was left with a lot of time to focus on the characters. WAY TOO MUCH time to focus on the characters. In short, I don't want to know these people anymore. Let's start with Bel, because her personality disorder unfortunately influences everything.

Bel is one of those people who takes a noble idea, like stopping slavery, and turns it into something extreme, like refusing to eat any sugar that she can't 100% verify wasn't made from slave labor. Sure, I guess the idea is noble, but try not wanting to tear her face off when she starts wrinkling her nose and acting like she's the WORLD'S GREATEST MARTYR when Toby takes her out for ices and she just *sob* can't *sniffle* eat them *sob*. At one point, she totally judges Toby for wanting to buy a new walking stick. Apparently, even if you have the money to buy a walking stick, you shouldn't. Because Bel the Sanctimonious Do-Gooder thinks it's frivolous. And in Bel's opinion, passion shared with one's spouse is NOT moral. Because Bel said so. Gah. She rarely smiles, never laughs, and climbs out of bed after each orgasm to work on her charities. In Bel's opinion, actually enjoying one's life is wrong because some people ... like, don't enjoy their lives and stuff? Near the end of the book, Bel displays a shocking intolerance for French people, too. A few French seamstresses flirt with Toby while fitting her for a new wardrobe, and Bel's all like, "All French people are WHORES!" She sucks, is what I'm trying to say. Every time Bel has a thought or says a word, this is my reaction:

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"Tell me more about how selfless and moral you are, Bel. I'm totally not calling you a bitch in my head. Do go on.

And then there's Toby. Poor, sweet Toby. He isn't blameless in all of this, either. After being jilted, Toby is plagued with a shit-ton of insecurities. So, even though Bel comes right out with her awful ambitions to marry a man she can control politically, he's like, "This is the lady for me!" Like a moron, he claims he'll run for Parliament JUST SO SHE'LL MARRY HIM even though he has no desire whatsoever to get into politics. All this trouble to get into a frigid, holier-than-thou reformer's petticoats? M'kay, Toby. I can't think of one reason for him to actually like Bel, so I'll just sum up his obsession as a demented NEED to possess a woman who won't jilt him for a sea captain. Once he gets his talons on Bel, Toby isn't letting go.

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Romance at its finest.

The secondary romance characters are annoying, too. Lady doctor with a chip the size of fucking Siberia on her shoulder snarls and pouts at bitter widower with stick up his ass. Their love did not move me.

I'd get into the HEY, LET'S TALK ABOUT BEL'S INABILITY TO BLOCK HER OWN ORGASMS EVEN THOUGH ORGASMS ARE ONLY FOR DIRTY, DIRTY WHORES portion of this summary, but the prospect of writing it turns me into this:

marshall doesn't want to see

In parting, I'll leave you with this SOLID, totally TRUE piece of information. I will never tempt fate and read another Tessa Dare book again. NEVER. (Okay, probably never. Shit.)