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