Surrender of a Siren, by Tessa Dare, hit bookstore shelves yesterday and I hit the bookstore yesterday to buy it. In these tough economic times, while I’m shaving a lot of my incidental spending out of my budget, I seem to have added impulse buying books. Thankfully, picking authors like Dare has proved a good investment! Surrender of a Siren picks up with Goddess of the Hunt‘s Sophia Hathaway determined to get to Tortola to start a new life. And she gets more than she ever dreamed when she meets “Gray” Grayson and arranges passage aboard his ship, the Aphrodite.
Much like with Goddess of the Hunt, Dare takes the plot line of a standard romance —impulsive, virtuous maiden on a ship with a scoundrel — and plays with it. Nothing really happens the way one would expect. (i.e. the shipboard ravishing.) And Dare’s writing continues to make me want to use the block quote feature in WordPress. She has a wonderful way with words and imagery.
She inhaled a deep, bracing breath of fresh air. The thought of returning below held no appeal whatsoever. Yet neither could she remain like this, head and neck protruding from a hole in the deck, like some species of seafaring marmot.
I laughed out loud. I couldn’t help it. What a perfect little picture. Dare has a sharp wit and barring the expected treacle-y conversations during the love scenes (almost ALL romance authors do it, so it’s not like I’m calling her out), her descriptions and her dialogue feel very real. So do the characters.
Sophia and her overactive imagination, her creativity, keep the reader on their toes. (Gervais the French painting tutor, anyone?) And Gray turns out to be not that much of a scoundrel, pulling off a few heroic acts that made even my cynical heart melt. For all his controlling actions and his trying to do what’s best for everybody, I love that Sophia confounds him and gets under his skin.
He’d wasted weeks of his adolescence memorizing sonnets, spent years perfecting little murmured innuendos. Only to learn the most seductive phrase in the English language was something akin to: All things being equal, I’d rather not see you mauled by a shark.
Of course, it’s not a perfect book; few are. I initially described SOAS on Twitter as “A smart heroine, a ginger hero and goats on a boat!” Having actually read it, I have to admit that I frequently questioned how smart Sophia is, Gray is not all that much of a redhead, and it “NEEDS MOAR GOATZ.” (It actually doesn’t; the goat level was just fine. LOL. But I couldn’t resist saying that.) I felt like Sophia was always crying, and the idea that she was running around in muslin gowns with 600 pounds strapped to her breasts, as well as how said 600 pounds were discovered, was a bit hard to believe. I also felt like there was a lot of build-up, a lot of gorgeous character work and story, that was wrapped up too quickly at the end. As though it could’ve used two more chapters in Tortola.
Because you want more of Dare’s characters and their adventures. And any criticism aside, overall the story is fun, romantic and a good yarn. The supporting players are compelling, and I was especially drawn to Joss. I want to know more about him and hope he finds happiness again some day.
Dare’s next book, A Lady of Persuasion, is that of Isabel Grayson, who is introduced in Surrender of a Siren, and Toby Aldridge from GOTH. And from the preview at the end of SOAS, it looks like she’s taking her habit of turning tropes on their ear to London society itself. I can’t wait to see what happens!