‘BORN OF PERSUASION,’ BY JESSICA DOTTA

July 30, 2013 21 Comments

‘BORN OF PERSUASION,’ BY JESSICA DOTTA. Review of the 2013 historical novel, book one in Dotta's Tyndale trilogy. Text © Rissi JC

Let’s start with a confession. As a girl who doesn’t read “Gothic” fiction, the most prominent name I can think of in the genre are the Bronte sisters. Between the three of them, the genre is proudly represented albeit often with a tragic outcome. Debuting in the fiction market, this year, Jessica Dotta brings a fresh voice to the genre lending a unique perspective and narrative to the young heroine. The story opens with the 17-year-old Julia Elliston arriving at Am Meer. The simple estate is home to Julia’s best friend, Elizabeth and her mother Mrs. Windham, who attempts to socially control Julia under the guise of  being her “chaperone.”

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Under the protection of a mysterious “guardian” who plans to place Julia in a service position in Scotland, Julia makes plans of her own hoping to rid her life of this faceless stranger. But she’s soon caught in the middle of a power struggle she doesn’t understand and becomes a pawn, a fragile position that could be her undoing.


Born of Persuasion, by Jessica Dotta | Book Review


During the first fourth of the novel, I have to be honest, I do struggle. The overview of the book is excellent, it begs a new kind of curiosity and demands attention, yet nothing seems to go anywhere whereas Julia is a predicament of a character; the character never seems to fully “reveal” herself. Any first person narrative should facilitate better knowledge of the heroine if no one else, yet Jessica seem to keep her character’s emotions close; she shifts from sorrow, anger and scared reactions rapidly. It feels like she’s always on the cusp of a reaction, but no more. Time and time again, the narrative reads more as if its protagonist is the narrator rather than a present part of the conversation.

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In Jessica’s author note, she recounts her journey to finally publishing this book; it’s a story that she brands as “insisting” to be told and really, it’s good. Skillful in telling the story, the period detail and the subtle intrigue does impress; the story begs us to question every dubious thing. Each subject goes between “good” and “evil,” and nearly every character is called out by their peers to question their intentions. Of course as a reader, our own trust of these players experiences highs and lows. While reading I wanted to like Julia’s dalliance with Macy; he seems kind and loving of her, then his temper inspires distrust and every good thing melts. Somewhere between his deceptive charm and tender care of Julia, I want to believe there was a good man inside.

Considering the end of the book, there are many things still open. Readers who enjoy a taste of this style of fiction will enjoy this historical tale of intrigue. There’s rarely a passage that goes by in which I don’t recognize elements of Jane Austen working into similarities of Gothic Bronte.

About the Book:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

Author: Jessica Dotta
Publisher: Tyndale House
Publication Date: September 2013 (ARC Book)
Series: Price of Privilege – book 1
Genre: Fiction; Historical, Mystery
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Rating: 3 out of 5*

*Originally, this novel did receive a 4 out of 5 rating

Sincere thanks to author Jessica Dotta for providing a complimentary copy of this book

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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21 Comments

  • Jessica Dotta July 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Rissi, thank you SO much for reviewing Born of Persuasion!

    • Rissi July 31, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      Thank *you* for the opportunity, Jessica! Enjoyed your first novel very much. Now, I am *dying* to know what's next for Julia and Edward, and Macy, too. :)

  • Grace M July 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    It looks like it could be interesting. I can't think of any "Gothic" fiction books I have read, so I don't know if I'd like it… Still, I might give this one a try.

    Thanks for the review!

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 12:39 am

      This was an excellent read, Grace – the author kept her reader guessing and that takes a talented pen.

      Wising you happy reading if you give this book a shot. :)

  • Hannah Elise July 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I like Gothic fiction, but it can be a leeetttle creepy. I loved Jane Austen's "attempt" at Gothic fiction through Northanger Abbey :)

    I think I'm going to put this book on my reading list. And the cover of the one following it looks lovely!

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 12:44 am

      I don't recall ever feeling creeped out while reading this book. The villain is quite the character though – he's charm personified (to the point of me almost liking him) then he does something horrible. Given its first person narrative (Julia's), Jessica alludes to his potential illegal acts instead of showing them which helps.

      Aw! I started reading Northanger Abbey way back when, Hannah; I liked what I read and really enjoy the newer British adaptation.

      Yay! Let me know what you think of Born of Persuasion if you ever read it. All of Jessica's novel covers are pretty. :)

  • Renee (SteelerGirl83) July 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    This book was seriously one of the best I've read in ages. I am so glad that something new and fresh has been brought forth in a Christian fiction genre that is full of light, fluffy stories. I can't wait for the next book! Great review, Rissi. :)

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 12:51 am

      Agree. It may have been "darker" than the average Christian fiction but Jessica has skill. Love the concept even if the narrative seemed "off" at times. For sure, I admire this book and Jessica for writing it – CANNOT wait to continue with Julia, Edward and Macy. *bites nails*

      Thanks for reading the review, Renee; keeping an eye out for yours, too. :)

  • Gwendolyn Gage July 31, 2013 at 2:36 am

    A great and thoughtful review, Rissi. I've noticed Dotta's books, and I do love the Bronte stye. :-)

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Hey, Gwendolyn! Thanks for reading this review! :)

      I think you'd like Jessica's books; this debut was SO unique and cutting edge really – especially when considering the Christian fiction market. It's always refreshing to find a new voice.

  • Kara July 31, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Oooo, and you intrigue me even more! Cannot wait to read this one! I wouldn't normally be interested in a gothic story, but something about this one just calls for me to read it. Hopefully I can in another month or so! Excellent review, Rissi. :)

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 12:57 am

      …and I hope you end up liking it, Kara! When I write a review, it's always difficult to know how much to "gush" over regarding the pros (and cons) since every reader is different. That being said, each reader has to decide on their own if a book is worth their time – I certainly hope you end up feeling satisfied if/when you read Born of Persuasion. For a debut book in a "new" genre, I LOVED this story.

      Thank *you* for reading. :)

  • Birdie July 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Great review Rissi, you've made me very curious with your mentions of the classic style and the similarity to the Brönte's works!

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 12:59 am

      Even being a girl who hasn't read Bronte, there were many examples that *screamed* of that "classic" style, Birdie. Obviously the narrative is more "contemporary" but it was still present in my humble opinion.

      Hope you enjoy the book if you ever read it. :)

  • Jack July 31, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    How come girls on book covers get such pretty dresses?

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 1:01 am

      …good question!? I wanna' know the answer to that also, Jack. :)

  • Cathy July 31, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Awesome review Rissi. You have such a beautiful talent for writing reviews! This novel sounds so good. I've loved all the Bronte sisters books I've read so if this is anything like theirs I know I'll love it too! : )

    • Rissi August 1, 2013 at 1:03 am

      As any reader will expect, the narrative is more "contemporary," Cathy but while reading the book, I noticed several similarities and was struck by how well Jessica wove everything together in this debut novel. Enjoy if you read the book!

      Thank you for reading – and your kind words! :)

  • Ganise C. August 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Well, I'm interesting in reading this one. I'm glad you think it's quite good. 'Skillfully written' novels are usually a pleasure to read. Thanks for sharing, Rissi!

    • Rissi August 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      That they are, Ganise – the better the skill, the more compelling the novel. :)

      Will be anxious for your thoughts once you read this one! :)

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