Wednesday, September 16, 2020

#TBRChallenge 2020: Terms of Surrender

Terms of Surrender Book Cover
The Book: Terms of Surrender by Leslie Kelly

The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin Blaze #616, 2011, Out of print, Available digitally

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I have an autographed print copy and my cataloging notes indicate I got it at RWA 2011.  Yes, I'm aware that was 9 years ago.  It was also Wendy's Librarian of the Year year!  Anyway, Wendy at a conference, category romances being given out like Halloween candy, of course this was buried in the depths of my TBR.

The Review: For this month's Dress for Success theme I was thinking of going with a glitzy Harlequin Presents, but as I was randomly grabbing at books in my Harlequin TBR pile (yes, I have my own cabinet just for the Harlequins because of course I do....) I randomly picked up this book featuring a Navy pilot hero who has ambitions to become an astronaut.  A man in uniform?  Well that certainly applies to this month's theme!  And he's quite the hero!  Too bad I wanted to smack the heroine into next Tuesday.

Marissa Marshall has a newly minted PhD in psychology and needs a job. She wrote two successful humorous self-help books thanks to her dating blog but the money is running out and a girl's gotta pay rent, eat, you know important stuff.  She's on her way to a job interview at the Naval Academy where she'd be a civilian contractor, teaching cadets. Her PhD was on the the effect a military life can have on relationships and families - so she ends up getting the job.  She also ends up finding Mr. Perfect.

Mr. Perfect is Danny Wilkes, Navy pilot.  But when Mari meets him he's dressed like a mechanic and that's what she takes him for.  They spend time together, sparks fly, sexy times occur, and it's all going great guns until Danny arrives outside her classroom (for reasons) wearing his dress whites (needing to make a good impression and needing to apologize to Mari for reasons).  Crap - he's a Navy man?!  Because apparently meeting him at the Naval Academy and him mentioning his "dress whites" in passing wasn't enough to clue her in.  This will not do.  Yes the sex was fantastic, yes he's got a dream personality, yes he's hot enough to peel wallpaper - but Mari has sworn to never, ever get involved with a man in uniform because - you guessed it - Mommy and Daddy.  Daddy who was career military and couldn't keep it in his pants.  Mommy who melted down, had her own affair, then promptly left Daddy and abandoned her three children.  Mari, being the oldest, raised her two younger siblings - because while Daddy could provide he wasn't a demonstrative father.

So we all know where this is going right?  Danny is literally Dreamboat Hero material but Mari tars and feathers him because of her childhood. Never mind that Danny does absolutely nothing over the course of this story to make anyone with two brain cells to rub together think that he is anything REMOTELY like Dear Old Dad.  When this guy screws up, he apologizes, he explains, he's contrite.  And his screw-ups are of the variety of "oh crap I dropped my phone in the harbor and lost your phone number" not "oh crap my penis fell into a 21-year-old I met at the bar."

A series of circumstances soon find Danny and Mari spending time together - they genuinely like each other, the sex is great, their feelings are growing stronger and then we get to the end.  When Mari stomps all over Danny's heart on the night he gets REALLY BIG NEWS and she scurries off because of Dear Old Dad and Abandonment Mommy.  Even though Danny is LITERALLY PERFECT! I JUST CAN'T WITH THIS CHILD!

Anyway, the one saving grace here is that Danny fires back with both barrels, calls her a coward, and gives a speech that distilled down to it's essence is basically, "I'm done."  Now this would be the part of the story where most readers with taste would want Mari to go running back to Danny, in bare feet over broken glass, to grovel mightily.  No.  Instead she types it up on her blog that she's a frickin' moron, Danny reads it, and then HE goes to HER!  And then they live happily ever after and I want to punch someone in the face.


Also, there's a lot of pop culture references a la 2011 that just aren't going to age well the longer time marches on (Britney Spears, Dancing with the Stars, Twilight, the heroine making money off her blog....).  Authors and editors seem to think this makes a story more hip and "relatable," especially to the coveted younger reading demographic and really?  All it does is age a contemporary story at a rapid, exponential pace.  A peeve of mine - maybe not for everybody.

Gif: How do you do, fellow kids?

But it is fast and breezy with a lot of banter.  I read it in one sitting which is a dang miracle right now.  But this heroine y'all.  I just couldn't with this child. 

Final Grade = D


RND said...

I think that heroine would have annoyed me to no end, too.

I haven’t posted anything for the challenge this month because I feel literally brain-challenged to come up with any words on books I’ve been reading. I’ve been meaning to try Penny Reid. I own the first Winston Brothers book, but since my library had the audios, I’ve been listening to the audios. I’m currently in the middle of the third audiobook, Beard Science. These have been fun and have so far satisfied my desire for something easy and breezy to listen to. Humor helps with the attention span and general burn out issues I’ve been having.

Jill said...

Boo, that's a shame. I feel like Harlequin went through a period where they really embraced pop culture references in lines like Dare b/c they thought it would bring them a chick lit/Sex in the City crowd. Not really sure if that worked out for them. I kind of like it in contemporaries, but it is a seasoning where a little goes a long way.

I'm still reading my challenge and I may finish it, but it's taken a weird turn. Grown adults who don't know each other very well (and aren't drunk) playing Truth or Dare. If this were YA/New Adult (or erotica), I'd let it go, but people in their late 20s or 30s with grown-ass jobs and lives? Why? It felt like the author really needed something to happen, so this happened to push the plot along. I felt second hand embarrassment for them.


Wendy said...

RND: I'm cautiously optimistic that I'm getting some reading mojo back. I got quite a bit of reading done over the Labor Day weekend and think I just need to accept I should stick with category romance right now. Now if I would just stop requesting books from work and read languishing ARCs...LOL

Jill: They did - I suspect because they're freaked about their aging reading demographic and competition from self-publishing. And I agree with you, a very little seasoning. Too much, given how rapidly time marches on, and it just ages a contemporary story very quickly.

Ugh, and yeah - Truth or Dare for supposed grown-ups? Not for me either.

Dorine said...

Your comment about the 21 year old cracked me up. Like you, I have a Harlequin shelving unit. I realize I overdid it on subscriptions AND conference gobble-ups. I may end up doing a clean sweep as we're having some remodeling done, and I need storage room. Sometimes I think it would be fun to start fresh with the TBR. Question is - can I do it? LOL

I'm reading a digital book I got in 2013. Not done yet so my review will be late, but so far, it has held my interest.

Like you, I think I'm getting my reading mojo back - now to work on the review writing mojo to catch up. The cooler weather has kicked my enthusiasm for books into overdrive.

Hopefully next month will bring you some awesome books. :)

Wendy said...

Dorine: I periodically cull the TBR pile and I'm probably overdue. Last one I did was when we moved - which has been nearly 3 years ago now (?). Harlequins especially - because I collect them fairly rapidly, and my tastes change, I try authors who I discover don't work for me etc.

Glad to hear the cooler weather is helping with your mojo!