Sophia Hathaway has been born, bred, and raised to look pretty, keep her mouth shut, and marry "up." Her family is counting on it. However our girl has bigger ambitions in life - oh, like namely having one. So just before she is to walk down the aisle with Sir Toby, she empties a bank account, and boards a ship heading to Tortola posing as a governess. The plan is to stay out of sight until her 21st birthday when she stands to inherit a chunk of money. Then she won't be forced to marry and can tell everyone to go to the devil.
Benedict "Gray" Grayson is a scoundrel trying to reform his privateer ways. This will be the Aphrodite's first legitimate voyage, and on that score, Gray is looking at the bottom line. Sophia, posing as "Miss Jane Turner," tells him she's a governess and she's been employed by a family he knows on the island. But something about the girl just doesn't add up. Worse still? He's attracted to her, and it certainly doesn't help matters that she's practically begging to be seduced. But he's promised his half-brother, the ship's captain, to behave himself, and that means keeping his hands off the delectable governess.
I was not surprised to learn that Surrender Of A Siren was the one book from this trilogy RWA chose to recognize with a recent RITA nomination. One thing I've learned over the years? There is a huge segment of the romance reading (and writing) community that cannot say no to shipboard romances. Sort of like me with westerns. And category romances. And books with cheesy clinch covers.
Hey, we all have our vices.
Much like Goddess Of The Hunt, this was a second half book for me. I'll be honest, this one was a slow-starter. I'm not sure if it was my mood, or the actual story, or what - but this one failed the pick-up, put-down test for the first half. It was certainly pleasant reading, but it never lit a fire in me to keep going.
The tide turned during the second half. By this point Gray and Sophia are no longer tap-dancing around each other, and the truth they've been hiding from each other begins to tear at the seams. And even with her moments of naivety, God bless her, Sophia has gumption:
"Now there is a falsehood. No one ever wants the truth from me. They just want the pretty package it comes in. If you really wanted to hear the truth, you'd listen. My feelings for you, they're as true a part of me as my name, or my place of birth. But you never want to hear them. You just keep running away."Between their growing attraction, the realization that they're falling in love, coupled with some added drama that meets them on the high seas, the second half of this story positively cooks. It's also great fun to read about Gray. Here's a guy who has spent his life making selfish decisions, skirting the law, and seducing women of varying reputations - and now he's getting his head turned by a pretty, innocent governess who likes to get lost in fantastical daydreams.
This was a pleasant read once I got over the hurdle of the slow start. Not the greatest historical romance I've ever read, but a nice addition to the trilogy, and an impressive sophomore effort. The author also does a lovely job of setting the table for the final installment of the trilogy, A Lady Of Persuasion.
Final Grade = B-