Wednesday, March 31, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare

*This is just my opinion, my personal take on any given book, use as a reference. I will not be overly gushing. I will also endeavor not to give too much of the plot away.
I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book, or try not to.*

Ballantine Books August 2009
400 pages By Tessa Dare

Visit Tessa's Site HERE


Desperate to escape a loveless marriage and society’s constraints, pampered heiress Sophia Hathaway jilts her groom, packs up her paints and sketchbook, and assumes a new identity, posing as a governess to secure passage on the Aphrodite. She wants a life of her own: unsheltered, unconventional, uninhibited. But it’s one thing to sketch her most wanton fantasies, and quite another to face the dangerously handsome libertine who would steal both her virtue and her gold.

To any well-bred lady, Benedict “Gray” Grayson is trouble in snug-fitting boots. A conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for pleasure and profit, Gray lives for conquest–until Sophia’s perception and artistry stir his heart. Suddenly he’ll brave sharks, fire, storm, and sea just to keep her at his side. She’s beautiful, refined, and ripe for seduction. Could this counterfeit governess be a rogue’s redemption? Or will the runaway heiress’s secrets destroy their only chance at love?


This book has just been nominated for a RITA and it is well deserved. This was a crackling good read, on so many levels. This is my first Tessa Dare, and I am anxious now to seek out her other two titles.

I have to start, as always, with the hero. Benedict 'Gray' Grayson is astounding. He is a swashbuckling, handsome rogue of the 1st order, but underneath lies such regret, guilt and remorse over so many faucets of his life, much to do with his family whom he loves deeply. After years of a privateer's existence and a rake's life, Gray now longs for respectability. Now the ship's owner, he has his half-brother Joss as Captain of his ship, Aphrodite.

Joss is a fascinating secondary character, his mother was a slave at Gray's father sugar plantation in Tortula. He's rather taciturn in his dealings with Gray, but he has good reason. Plus this is his first command, and having the former captain and now owner on your ship can make one uncomfortable. Joss has also suffered a personal loss, also adding to his aloof personality. He could have his own book. Easily. Seeing Gray desperately trying to make things up with the brother he loves deeply, was quite moving.

The heroine, took longer for me to warm up to. She seemed spoiled and headstrong and to an extent, flighty. But watching her interaction with the colourful ships' crew (again, some great secondary characters here, particularly, Davy, a young seaman) was a revelation. She really grew as a character on this voyage.
She paints and sketches, she daydreams about imaginary lovers. She even tells our hero in vivid detail about this imaginary lover and his deft touch in a very convincing way for a virgin.

Joss the captain can see the sparks flying between Gray and Sophia (who passes herself off as Jane Turner on this trip) and tells Gray he is not to touch the innocent, spirited miss. Gray, in his bid to try and be respectable, tries very hard. But when one is passengers on a ship and thrown constantly into each other's company, it is not always easy! Some charming episodes ensue, and some very sensual ones, one in particular which I will not reveal here. Like nothing I have read in a historical. *sizzle*. There was also some moments of gentle tenderness that will bring a tear to your eye.

I felt as if I was on the ship with the characters, I swear I could hear the cable tiers creaking and the sails snapping in the breeze, Tessa so deftly weaves the sights and sounds of being at sea. She also doesn't overdo it with the ship vernacular as some authors have done in the past, just enough to give you the experience, but not so much that you think you are reading a ship's manual.

The growing love story between Gray and Sophia is steeped in such yearning, it will touch your heart. Because really, both of them are very selfish beings in different ways, and their journey to finally admitting this and to give in to their passions is an astounding journey. Not to mention the adventures they encounter on the way. Gray for all his supposed rakish ways, is truly a charming hero, who really does have some sense of morals deep down.
Sophia's growth is just as satisfying, however, she kept up her lie just a little too long, but makes for a tidy conclusion and an exciting finish.

The narrative was expertly done, the slow building of the relationship between Gray and Sophia done to the backdrop of a fast paced ship's adventure. And Tessa Dare is a very fine writer and storyteller. I loved this book. I would read it again, no problem, it's a keeper. So here I go...

4 out of 4 stars.

KOVER KUDOS: Lovely cover, I think I would have preferred a close up of the male model, LOL! But both have the correct hair color, and love the ship in the background.
3 out of 4 stars.


Deb said...

Excellent review, Karyn! I also liked this book---a lot; it's on my keeper shelf. I was a little opposite of you in that I took a longer to warm up to Gray instead of Sophia and it took me awhile to like Joss, too.

Tessa Dare IS a very good writer and storyteller. I loved all 3 books of this set.

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Deb, I am totally shameless, I take to just about every hero I read, flaws and all! LOL!

It took me a while to like Joss as well, as I said, he had good reason to be so...stern. But I warmed up to him by the end of the book.

Ooo, you read all three? I am hoping our library has them, will check tomorrow, cheers and thanks!

Anonymous said...

I know I said before not real big on romance, but I do love checking out your reviews. I got to admit, this one really appeals to me, how you describe it. I will have a look for it.


Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Jaundyce, you will not be sorry, this is a great read, on so many levels. If you want to try a romance, this book is a good place to start, and thanks about my reviews!

PJ said...

Great review, Karyn! I loved all three books in this trilogy but Surrender of a Siren is my favorite. I'm so happy it's been nominated for a RITA. It's very deserving.

Great news for all of us who enjoy Tessa Dare's books. She has another trilogy coming out this summer!

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Thank you so much PJ, wow, that is good news! A new Trilogy. I just finished 'A Lady of Persuasion' last night, I really liked it, but like youself, I think 'Surrender of a Siren' is in a class all its own.

Glad Joss finally came around, and Toby was a delight as a hero.