ARC Review: Undue Influence by Jenny Holiday



Eight years ago, Adam Elliot made the biggest mistake of his life. Now that mistake is coming back to haunt him. His family’s beloved vineyard has gone into foreclosure, and the new owner is the sister of the only man he’s ever loved—the man he dumped under pressure from family and friends who thought the match was beneath him.

When Freddy Wentworth, aka the bad boy of Bishop’s Glen, left town with a broken heart, he vowed never to return. But a recently widowed friend needs his help, so here he is. He’s a rich and famous celebrity chef now, though, so everyone can just eff right off.

But some things are easier said than done. Despite their attempts to resist each other, old love rekindles—and old wounds reopen. If they want to make things work the second time around, they’ll have to learn to set aside their pride—and prejudice.


The title on the cover clearly mentions that this book is a retelling of Persuasion and also an m/m romance. I actually don’t remember much about the last Austen novel, so I will not be able to compare or give any idea about how close this book stays to the original. However, this is still a fun romance novel and not remembering the origin story didn’t hamper my enjoyment.

After his dad’s death, Adam tried very hard to keep the family’s Kellynch vineyard afloat but there was nothing he could do amidst his mother and sister’s excessive spending. After it’s auction, all he wants to do is lead is quiet life in the small town of Bishop’s Glen but Freddy’s return brings all the turmoil in his heart to the forefront. Freddy is sure that he hates the town and Adam for breaking his heart, but seeing him again is like a jolt to his heart and he is not content anymore in the life that he has built for himself in the past eight years.

This is a dual perspective story told in two timelines. The story eight years ago starts off with Adam and Freddy’s first meeting and it’s beautiful to watch the progression. Their friendship develops slowly, with sweet smiles and long silent walks and they are just so adorable. Adam is a little naive and is very exhilirated by all the new feelings whereas Freddy has never had his heart involved before. They are both very kind and considerate towards each other even though Freddy never shows that side of him to anybody. The development of their romance is just so organic and it felt perfect and when they finally separated, it just about broke my heart.

The present timeline has Adam coming to terms with the fact that he still regrets his decision for pushing Freddy away and tries to squash his hopes for a second chance. Freddy doesn’t want to do go through it all again but he can’t keep his thoughts about Adam away. It’s so obvious to us they still have feelings but they find it difficult to communicate. Their little conversations and getting to know the adult versions of eah other is very adorable and sweetly written. The romance is very very slow burn but their relationship is worth it.

Freddy is a wonderful character. Despite his asshole persona, he is actually a very good friend and considerate person and the way he takes care of Adam is just awesome. He is also very driven and passionate and I loved reading from his POV. Adam is a sweet and hardworking guy with very simple pleasures in life (especially readng) and not much expectations. But he is also too much of a pushover and I hated that about him. His insecurities and loneliness drive him to always act to please others without ever considering his own happiness and I just couldn’t completely connect to that part of him.

Adam’s family are some of the most selfish characters I’ve ever read and I hated how much they used him or tried to dictate his life. And despite all this, I don’t begrudge him for loving them but I do hate that he let them do all that to him. He is also very dependent on his best friend/father figure Rusty because he has always been there for him; but I thought Rusty took undue advantage of that and forced Adam to choose between his love and Rusty’s friendship. It’s such a shitty thing to do to a 19 year old vulnerable boy and I just couldn’t warm up to him. Everything wrapped up too neatly towards the end and I just felt that neither Rusty nor Adam’s family ever acknowledged or apologized enough for the harm they did to Adam due to their selfish behavior.

The romance in this book is adorable and the two MCs are very sweet nice guys but the side characters reallly irritated me and I couldn’t enjoy the book as much as I wanted to. It’s still a fun and emotional read and I cried a couple of times but I just wish the bad things were adressed more properly. The epilogue is sappy and perfect and a wonderful happy ending. I would definitely recommend this book if you like contemporary Austen retellings or cute m/m romances.

4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Undue Influence by Jenny Holiday

Add yours

  1. That’s an awesome review Sahi. I have not read Persuasion by Jane Austen. But it’s interesting to know that this is a retelling of that book. I might be adding this on my TBR.


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