I’m sitting here trying to think of something I really, really liked about Amanda Quick’s Surrender. I didn’t hate the heroine, Victoria, but that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, now, is it?
I just don’t even like the entire idea of the book. It’s called Surrender. It takes a while to find out why it’s titled that way, but when I did figure it out, the title alienated me a bit.
Surrender is the story of Victoria, an heiress in her mid-twenties, who refuses to marry because she doesn’t want a man to take control of her money. She’s a bit unconventional, very smart, quirky and strong. I liked all of that about her.
But when she met her future husband, Lucas, Earl of Stonevale, she seemed to get a little dumber.
Lucas has recently inherited the earldom and all of the run-down, dilapidated lands that come with it. Lucas inherited the title from his uncle, who spent more time gambling and at the bottom of a bottle than he did caring for the lands.
As a result, Lucas is in desperate need of some cash to help repair Stonevale to all of its former glory. I really didn’t like much of anything about Lucas, because it was evident from the beginning that he was out for nothing but money. Eventually, he and Victoria were forced to marry or to endure a helluva scandal, but it’s my opinion that Lucas eventually planned on setting up a trap to marry her, anyway.
So anyhow, once Victoria and Lucas are married and Lucas has access to Victoria’s money, he decides that he doesn’t quite like unique Victoria as she is. So, on top of being a lying, manipulative, scheming wormball, Lucas also is now a tyrannical chauvinist. He pretends to abide by a high moral code, yet makes it obvious that he’s willing to throw that code out the window as long as the means justify the end. Case in point: he tricked Victoria into marrying him, when he knew damn well that she never wanted to get married in the first place; when he knew that marriage would only make her miserable.
And it did. Especially when Lucas took control of Victoria’s money, giving her only a quarterly allowance. I don’t care how realistic that action is. It only served to further alienate me, because I simply cannot relate to a situation like that. I guess I’m too much of a control freak.
Anyhow, back to the title of the book: Surrender. Once I’d read this far, and I better understood the characters, I realized that Lucas’ entire goal in this book was to get Victoria to surrender to him — to submit herself and her funds to his total control.
None of his tyranicism sits well with me. None of it. I just hated him as a character.
So, now I’m 500 words into this review, and I haven’t even told you the whole story. Victoria also is haunted by her dead stepfather’s memory, and possibly by his ghost. Oh, and some random guy is pissed at Lucas and out for revenge against him, too. So Victoria is running from a ghost and Lucas is running from some random guy, and the two of them are fighting incessantly, and I’m trying to make sense of the backstory. No matter how I read it, I just can’t believe it. It’s not convincing and it’s too thin. And that’s all I’ll say on that, in an effort to keep from giving the ending away.
On the dialogue: I find one of the hardest things for me to reconcile in a historical romance is the language. It has to be believable in the time period, yet current-day readers also have to be able to read and relate to what the characters are saying. I had a really hard time with Surrender on that account. I found myself completely alienated by the dialogue, the language and the manner in which the characters spoke. It leaned a little bit to far to the historical side, I felt. Here’s an example, from a random paragraph on a page that I just flipped to — you guessed it — randomly:
“Almost, but not quite. Calm yourself, Vicky. I don’t mean to frighten you, but you cannot help but know by now that I would not be averse to something more than a romantic connection with you. Would you care to discuss marriage rather than a romantic liaison?”
What a convoluted, unengaging way to say “Marry me!” Sheesh!
Through it all, though, I found that I sort of liked Victoria. She had a strong spirit and was determined not to break in the fact of Lucas’ pressure, right until the end. She did annoy me from time to time, though, as she could be a bit of a whiney brat. Nevertheless, she certainly had more redeeming qualities than Lucas.
I’m glad this book is over.
Title: Surrender | By: Amanda Quick | Publisher: Bantam Books, 1990 | ISBN: 0553285947 | RLB Grade: D | Find it on Amazon: Surrender