Starlit Surrender by Judy Cuevas is so bad that the author had to republish it using her alias, Judith Ivory.
Imprint or Line: Zebra Heartfire
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This is a review of Starlit Surrender by Judy Cuevas. Cuevas later used the pseudonym Judith Ivory to republish Starlit Surrender as Angel in a Red Dress.
This review is of the original Zebra paperback version, published in January 1988.
Prologue: July 1789
At a party somewhere in England, Christina Bower, 19, meets Adrien Hunt, seventh Earl of Kewischester (pronounced “Kester”). They meet and dance with each other.
The dance causes a scandal for her father, Winchell Bower, the King’s Counselor, due to Adrien’s reputation as a bounder, cad, libertine, and rake of the first order.
Later, Adrien is seriously injured in the French Revolution.
Part I: Shadows in the Sun
Fast forward three years.
Christina is now Christina Bower-Pinn, after marrying Richard Pinn, a baronet’s son.
However, Christina must make a new plan for her next steps upon learning that Richard is going to divorce her because she can’t have children. Christina will discover later that the fault was Richard’s, not hers.
What Christina doesn’t know is that the house is Adrien’s. As time passes, Christina and Adrien become lovers, and we learn a great deal about him.
Adrien was married, now divorced.
He is a successful businessman with five children by women he didn’t marry.
In addition, he is involved in intrigue that requires constant travel between England and France, where he was born.
Part II: Shadows in the Shade
The scene then shifts to France. Christina, now very pregnant, has learned about some of Adrien’s activities.
Things take a dark turn soon after when the French government arrests Adrien for those actions. But he is able to escape.
Adrien and Christina get married to give their child legitimacy.
Upon their return to England, Adrien is shot, seriously wounded, and presumed dead.
Part III: Shadows in the Dark
An elaborate scheme takes place.
Adrien is captured and nursed back to health. Meanwhile, Christina hears rumors of his death. Not believing this, she tries to find him.
Eventually, Adrien escapes from his captors and reunites with Christina.
In the end, they have their Happily Ever After.
The fact that I finished Starlit Surrender was a major accomplishment. Had I not paid for it, I wouldn’t have.
The only other upside is the blurbs for other books in the back of the book, which hopefully will be better than this. They can’t be worse.
Where to begin?
Let’s start with Christina, who is basically a brainless ninny. She starts off only caring about going to parties. Then, after she marries, she falls in “love” with an amoral, self-centered, horn-dog bastard who cares nothing for her feelings or wishes.
Then there is Adrien, who is a bastard from beginning to end. (Not to be too holier-than-thou, but having multiple children out of wedlock isn’t something I’m down with.)
Apparently, Ms. Cuevas/Ivory realizes her hero is garbage and tries to redeem/explain/justify his behavior in the book’s second half. This, like everything here, fails miserably.
Next are his activities. The story never explains why Adrien is involved in his dealings.
Ms. Cuevas/Ivory appears to believe readers are supposed to care simply because Christina and Adrien are the hero and heroine. She makes no other efforts to try to make readers care for them.
In addition, it seems Ms. Cuevas/Ivory was being paid by the word. She uses thousands of words to say absolutely nothing.
There are a handful of love scenes involving Christina and Adrien. They are as bland and uninteresting as the rest of the book is.
This is a lukewarm romance at best. And it’s not the best kind of Luke, either.
Adrien is the recipient of most of the violence. He is shot multiple times, stabbed, and assaulted. Yet somehow, he survives, which I find incredibly unrealistic.
A supporting character commits suicide by gun at the end of the book.
Bottom Line on Starlit Surrender
It’s no wonder Judith Cuevas slapped a new title on this turkey and re-released it under the Judith Ivory pseudonym. Maybe it’s also been re-edited? Because Starlit Surrender is among the worst books I’ve ever read.
Fortunately, it was her first book. The rest of her backlist is much better.
|Rating Report Card|
COVER POINTS DO NOT COUNT!
Sometimes a sinner can find heaven…
Beautiful, level-headed Christina Bower has every reason to avoid Adrien Hunt. He is an earl while she is of common birth—he will never offer marriage. He is a man of intrigue, perhaps playing both sides in a most perilous game. Wrost of all, the arrogant, lethally charming rogue revels in his reputation as libertine, unrepentant of the many bedchambers through which he’s romped and the many hearts he’s broken.
Yet the warmth of his breath on her cheek makes her knees weak—though Adrien would never admit that his pursuit of sensible, lovely Christina goes beyond mere desire alone. Does she dare submit to the irresistible devil’s practiced seductions? Does she dare enter Adrien’s dangerous world—and if she surrenders to it, will he only break her heart, too?Starlit Surrender by Judy Cuevas