Whitney Finalist, Romance
I enjoyed Jensen's previous Whitney-nominated romance, Of Grace and Chocolate, and had high hopes for this book, which was based on Jane Austen's Persuasion. (And as anyone who knows me will attest, I'm a sucker for Austen adaptations).
This book was sweet, rather than deeply stirring. In some ways, Jensen's previous book had more depth. Here, of course, she's somewhat limited by the Austen book she chose. And of all Austen's books, Persuasion is her most mature, and her most subtle. A difficult one to adapt. (Probably also my most favorite).
After the death of her mother, Alisen Embry finds solace in keeping the orchard her mother loved alive. Just after graduating from high school, Alisen meets Derick Whitney (Jensen's nod to "Frederick Wentworth"), a striking young man who's the nephew of the farmer who's been teaching Alisen to care for her orchard. They quickly grow close, and Derick introduces Alisen to his LDS faith. Alisen's father and aunt are concerned both by Alisen's rapid commitment to the relationship and the new church, and they urge her to break things off. Alisen goes along with them, largely because a crisis in her father's health leads her to believe she's needed at home.
Fast forward four years. At twenty-three, Alisen is older and more reserved. Her father's financial situation has changed, and she encourages him to rent their lovely lake-house and take a more modest condo in town. Alisen continues to work on the orchard, but when the lake-house rental is picked up by Derick's older sister and her family, Alisen finds herself both dreading and fearing the imminent advent of Derick. Can he forgive her for not holding constant?
The storyline, of course, is familiar to anyone who knows Persuasion. I was most interested in seeing how Jensen updated certain story lines (like the famous fall at Lyme Regis), and I thought for the most part her adaptations made sense. I loved the Montana setting (brought back fond memories of my childhood). The characters were interesting and nice, but I don't feel particularly drawn to any of them. Overall, a sweet, clean read but not a profound one.