Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-256653-9
Contemporary Romance, 2018
Cajun Persuasion is the final book – for now – in Sandra Hill’s long-running Cajun series. Don’t be sad if you are a fan of this series, as if the author’s past record is anything to go by, she may just go back to this series again some time in the future. Sadly, this one ends the current incarnation of the series on a rather confusing note.
This one sees Fleur Gaudet, a former prostitute turned nun-in-training (which is to say, she’s not a nun yet, so the hero can sleep with her without forcing God to send a lightning bolt down to burn them both), joining her fellow nuns of the Sisters of Magdalene order to infiltrate strip joints and such to free the victims of sex-trafficking. She meets Aaron LeDeux when the getaway pilot, a priest from the male counterpart order St. Jude’s Street Apostles, is unable to make it and he requests Aaron, also a pilot, to come in his place. Of course, for a quest this urgent, Brian doesn’t dish the full details to Aaron, because come on, where’s the fun in that. Still, all goes well and uh… things happen after that.
I suspect that the author is aiming for some madcap action adventure romp here, something like the Lethal Weapon or the recently rebooted 21 Jump Street movies, perhaps, because there is an underlying serious take home message that the author hopes, in her afterword, that we’ll all take to heart, glazed with madcap antics of dotty old women and other punchline-bot secondary characters. Aaron and Fleur end up the sane ones of the bunch, which is typical of the author’s formula, but their relationship development is drowned out by all the secondary characters, who just won’t leave these two alone and give them some quiet time. In the end, I know little of the hero and the heroine. She’s okay, I guess, and he’s also… okay, I think, but that’s about it.
This won’t be so bad if the author had included punchy pacing or a solid plot, but for the most part, the main characters are just dragged along by the dotty, dotty secondary characters. For a long time, I have no clue whether the story is ever getting anywhere, as all I get are conversations and dotty scenes. For a story that features nuns and priests on a righteous path to end sex trafficking in America, there is no big bad villain for them to focus on, no big master plan, nothing. Just… scenes of things happening, for the want of the better description, without a strong plot thread to string these scenes together. Furthermore, the cast seems more intent on being funny than focusing on the mission, causing the story to lack any sense of urgency and making me hard to take their mission seriously.
And while this is subjective, the humor isn’t even that funny to compensate. I don’t even chuckle once while reading this story, mostly because, like Janet Evanovich, the author seems to be recycling her shtick these days instead of coming up with something new or fresh in the haw-haw department.
So, what is Cajun Persuasion? If it wanted to be a madcap adventure, well, the adventure part isn’t very rollicking, the pacing is too slow, and nobody seems to be taking his or her cause seriously. If it wanted to be a romance, well, it’s hard to feel the love when the main characters have no time or space to explore their feelings for one another. If it wanted to be a comedy, well, I’m not getting it. All I know is that this is something half-baked that I happened to buy at full price, and I’m feeling buyer’s remorse as a result.