Seeking Persephone, by Sarah M. Eden, is a ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story, but it is also an interesting twist on the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone. Set in the Regency England of 1805, the story builds within the confines of the English customs of that time. Persephone Lancaster receives a marriage proposal from Adam Boyce, Duke of Kielder, a man known for his enormous wealth, bad temper, and terrible facial scars. Though she fears what life with this stranger may be like, she knows that the large amount of money he offers for her would save her family from financial ruin and ensure that her sisters would find husbands. So she sets off to Northumberland, hoping for the best.
What she finds is a cold, forbidding castle surrounded by deep forest and savage wolf-dogs, and a husband who mirrors his surroundings. Adam has been scarred both physically and emotionally, and he expects nothing from this marriage of convenience. He is dismayed to find his wife is beautiful, kind, and cheerful. Persephone uses patience, kindness, and persistence as she strives to get through the armor Adam has built around his heart and find the real man within. As Adam begins to fall in love with her, he is terrified of these new, tender emotions, and he lashes out like a wounded lion. His repeated rejection hurts her, and Persephone spends a great deal of time crying in her garden. It will take great danger and the threat of losing her before the Duke will risk showing his true feelings. The surprising light-hearted element of the story is Harry Windover, who sees through Adam’s bluster and remains his loyal friend. Harry uses his wonderful sense of humor to ease the difficult situation, and help Adam and his bride to find each other.
I really enjoy books that are retellings of fairy tales and myths, especially those that delve into the psyche of the characters and make them real. I also really enjoyed the witty dialogue. I don’t think I could have had Persephone’s persistence, and for a while I wondered if Adam would ever open up. I hurt for them both. Seeking Persephone turned the original story of Hades and Persephone, which is brutal and sad, into a slowly growing romance where one sympathizes with Adam/Hades and hopes that the couple will be able to find true love together.
Thank you, Sarah, for a clean, well-written romance that both adults and young adults will enjoy. I look forward to reading your other books.