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REVIEW: Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare

Dear Ms. Dare:

This is book two in your loosely connected trilogy that is being released Aug, Sept and October. Surrender of a Siren follows the character Sophia as she runs away from home and obligation to experience “adventure.” Sophia is a wealthy young woman who has been urged by her family to marry a nice titled man. But Sophia’s imagination is too big for England.

I’ll admit right off that I’m not much of a high seas, pirate kind of story. It’s a marked difference between my blogging partner Jayne and I.

Sophia, longing for adventure and romance, sets off to sail for Tortola, asserting that she is to become the governness to a relation.   Sophia has no real intention of being a governness as she is an heiress but she has to have a reason to go to Tortola. She pretends to be a poor relation.

Benedict “Gray” Grayson is a former privateer trying to go straight.   This trip is his first as a legitimate merchant vessel.   The captain is his half brother, Josiah, who does not want Sophia, a gentlewoman with no guardian, on his ship.   Gray capitulates to Sophia’s wiles but promises Josiah that Gray will make no attempt to seduce Sophia.   While Gray attempts to keep his promises, he has no defenses against the wily, seductive Sophia (an innocent who can’t wait NOT to be innocent).

Both Sophia and Gray lie to each other, all of the time. The lies that they tell are ostensibly for the good of the other party, but premising any relationship on lies is dangerous and eventually comes back to hurt those you are trying to protect.

Sophia is a seemingly harmless but selfish person. She takes the path of least resistance rather than face the consequences. In other words, instead of telling Sir Toby and her family that she doesn’t want to marry him, she simply runs away, looking for an outlet. She does have her moment of revelation that the person she has been telling the biggest fibs of all was to herself.

Gray’s relationship with his brother Josiah was almost as interesting as his relationship with Sophia.   Gray wants to wrench his whole family into respectability whether they want it or not.   He has a sort of belated sense of responsibility which is grating on Josiah.

Toward then end, I felt like I lost touch with Gray. His emotions were being tossed, if you can bear a seafaring metaphor, much like a mast in a storm. I wasn’t sure if he was angry, happy, unhappy, disappointed. Maybe that was the point, that Gray was so utterly conflicted but I felt whipsawed as we careened from what seemed like one extreme to another.

I love how Sophia was so proactive in pursuit of her own happiness even if it was a misguided pursuit.   Her dreams of adventure and the belief that she would find the happiness and fulfillment she had been looking for somewhere more exotic, less restrictive than England was believable. I loved that you made Sophia an artist whose emotions played out in the canvas.   It made sense that she was sensitive in this regard as she had such an vivid imagination.   She is also an awful flirt and even when she tried to suppress it, she still couldn’t completely interact with every male without a bit of coyness.   Of course, this is not without repercussion.

I could have used a bit more of a mea culpa from Sophia and I recognize that some readers might not enjoy reading a heroine like Sophia, but I thought it was very fresh. Sophia’s behavior, if viewed on a male character, would be totally acceptable and understandable and from that aspect, I appreciate the subversion of the trope.   B

Best regards,


This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. may
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:02:54

    I purchased this today (having read Goddess of the hunt based on review on this site) and I hope to fall in love with it much as I did the first.

  2. Lori
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 16:14:43

    I’m halfway through Goddess of the Hunt right now and not being a fan of historicals, I’m gobsmacked at how I was drawn in so immediately and how infactuated I am with the writing.

    I’ll follow up with this book (although I’m sad that Sophia wasn’t as entranced by Toby’s kiss as this reader was.)

  3. DM
    Aug 28, 2009 @ 18:58:14

    I was amazed by the crystal clear, brisk prose in Goddess of the Hunt and will buy Surrender of a Siren despite the plot summary, which sadly does not appeal to me. I’m not certain I’ll engage with a heroine whose adventure is kicked off by such slight motivation.

  4. JulieLeto
    Sep 06, 2009 @ 10:47:31

    Don’t know if anyone will see this as it’s been a while since the review was posted, but I’m 3/4 of the way through the book myself and I don’t think the review does the book justice, honestly. Sophia doesn’t merely run away because she doesn’t love Toby. That’s not it at all. She runs away because she is tired of everyone’s expectations of her, of Toby’s inability to see her for a real woman instead of some angel on a pedestal, on being nothing more to society than a meal ticket for some family because of her dowry. When she learns that she will get her money not when she marries, but that it is in a trust that she will get whether she is married or not when she turns of age, she decides to take her life for her own. She regrets leaving Toby as she did, but she has no other choice in her mind. And she does have those romantic notions of hers to deal with–they are both dashed and verified at the same time. It’s brilliant.

    I loved Sophia very much. And Gray is an amazingly conflicted hero with a strong sense of honor, even if he doesn’t realize it right away. He’s by no means perfect–neither of them are, but they find perfection together. I haven’t finished the book and I can see conflicts to come, but I see no way at this point how these two people can’t win over any circumstance…and to me, that is the most romantic notion of all.

    And the writing itself is magical.

  5. DM
    Sep 08, 2009 @ 09:37:20

    Bought it, read it, found it deeply disappointing. Goddess of the Hunt was nicely done. Nothing terribly original but everything well executed and in prose that never went near any shad of purple. And the conflict in Goddess arose naturally from the characters and their situations. I thought I had happened on a new favorite author. Dare went to such pains to make all the motivations work in Goddess, to give her characters real stakes, that I thought for sure this book would be if not as good, then at least as well executed.

    Unfortunately, for me, this read like a very silly pirate romance with the slenderest of motivations for every character action in the book. In Goddess, we wanted to know if the tomboy heroine would be able to put aside her childish infatuations and grow up, and we were afraid that her naive attempts at seduction would result in crushing humiliation. Classic hope versus fear. In Surrender, I could never figure out what the worst thing that could happen to the heroine was. I had no hopes for her and no fears. It was almost a DNF but I persevered.

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