Published by: Avon
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper, Victorian Era Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
MILD SPOILERS 😉
Rosemary Rogers, the “Grande Dame of Bodice Rippers,” wrote a few exceptional epic romances. Alas, Surrender to Love wasn’t one of them. It’s my least liked of her books I’ve read so far.
Surrender to Love begins in the hot, sultry nation of Ceylon, where the British heroine Alexa lives. Alexa is so spunky. She hates convention. Why-oh-why do rules have to be so strict for women, and why couldn’t she have been born a man?
Look, I like feminist heroines in my bodice rippers. A meek, wishy-washy heroine in one is no fun, but Alexa… It just never ended with her. Everything was political. That attitude is very draining.
But the worst aspect about her is reading her inner monologues. They’re jam-packed with randomly italicized words, sometimes just a couple per page, sometimes dozens. It made me crazy.
Alexa is one of those wild heroines who courts danger and is susceptible to intense mood swings. I got the suspicion it was the author’s menopausal mania slipping in. (I’m feeling it myself these days.)
I got a strong sense of Alexa’s mental instability with her long internal rants. Or when she’s scratching the hero Nicholas’s face off. Or sobbing hysterically in front of him. Basically, every scene underscores her fluctuating moods.
The writing was erratic. For example, POV changes without warning, just within one paragraph.
And did I mention those italics?
Alexa wants to be independent in a society constricted by stultifying rules. She meets Nicholas Dameron, who’s as wild as she is.
Their relationship is a tug-and-pull game that goes on for too long. There’s no consummation until page 337 of this 612-page brick, which ticked me off.
The tempo in Surrender to Love is more sluggish than the other Rogers books I’ve encountered, even the profoundly introspective The Wildest Heart. The pacing plods on.
It turned around after Part Two, but it was rough when a book doesn’t have not much happening for the first 200 pages. Alexa gets involved in a few scandals and then marries an older husband who brings her to the “Temple of Venus” to catch a naughty peep show or two.
She is soon widowed and goes to England to take society by storm.
Eventually, I saw where Rogers was going with the plot; it’s a tale of a woman who defies the stifling conventions of the Victorian Era through her overt sexuality.
I wondered if Rogers was ever a fan of Mexican telenovelas. The hidden family secrets, brutish hero, and spunky heroine reminded me of Alondra, which was about a “beautiful, rebellious girl, with very independent and progressive views for that time” (i.e., she has sex with other men besides the hero) who looks and acts just like Alexa.
All the Viscounts of this-and-that running around got confusing. But at least they weren’t Dukes!
Nicholas Dameron was too nebulous, too enigmatic for a hero, which is unusual for me to criticize. Despite learning the history of his first wife, I didn’t understand him at all.
As always, Rogers drew upon themes of women’s liberation. This time it came on a bit thick.
Yes, Alexa, we get it. Being a woman in the 19th century was smothering and oppressive. However, she was part of the wealthy upper class, plus beautiful & widowed. Alexa had privileges that the average woman of her time did not share.
Alexa’s rash impetuosity was a major flaw. She never thought about her actions first. She was capricious and blamed her troubles on outside forces.
Nobody forced her to move to London and deal with the repressive London ton, but she had to have her “revenge” on Nicholas for ruining her in Ceylon.
Sure, Alexa, it was revenge you were after.
The world was that woman’s oyster, but she had a hankering for geoduck:
The first two hundred pages could have been condensed to half that amount. The ending was weird (although not the “trial” and a whipping scene, which was awesome). One moment Alexa is engaged to Charles, her consummation with him is glossed over, and then she ends up married to Nicholas.
Happy ending, I guess?
Final Analysis of Surrender to Love
Surrender to Love wasn’t Rosemary Roger’s best romance. She’s written far better.
Strong characterization, a staple of her works, is missing here. The heroine was a manic mess. Nicholas, the hero, was too distant and mysterious to be appreciated.
The villains weren’t exciting. Although I liked Alexa’s evil grandma, she was the Diet Coke of evil: just one calorie, not evil enough. Same opinion of the Marquess. But as long as I kept imagining Mexican actress Beatriz Sheridan as the evil Dowager Marchioness, I had a good time with that particular villainess.
I would have given Surrender to Love a less than favorable rating but settled on three stars because the pluses slightly outweighed the negatives.
But, oh, those annoying italics made it difficult.
|Rating Report Card|
Under the midnight moon of Ceylon, on the night of her debutante ball at the Governor’s palace, Alexa Howard met her cousin, Nicholas Dameron. And in the sardonic curl of his hard, sensuous lips, in the commanding arrogance of his eyes, Alexa beheld the fierce, implacable passion that would render her helpless to the trembling slavery of desire…
Every kind of love a woman can be made to feel…Surrender to Love by Rosemary Rogers
Within the golden softness of Alexa’s alluring gentility flowed the insatiable fires of an innocent woman’s awakening to lvoe — and the fury of a betrayed woman’s lust for revenge. Through the nightworlds of Naples, Rome, Paris and London, she was pursued by the man who heartlessly wanted her beauty. But her soul was possessed by the man whose touch was unbearable ecstasy, whose cruelty was ravishing torment, whose tenderness was passion’s fulfillment. Nicholas Dameron had taken her virtue and mocked her pride. But his love was the offering of every pleasure a woman has ever dared to dream of…