My Reckless Surrender
My tolerance is actually pretty high these days. Lots of sex and no emotion? Whatever. Waaaay over the top emotions? Bring it on. Overly convoluted premise? It’s all good. But all of that, plus a heroine who deserves every drop of my derision and her self-contempt? That’s a problem.
Diana Carrick has lived all her life at Cranston Abbey, first as the bailiff’s daughter then as the wife of Lord Burnley’s secretary. Her husband died eight years ago and, with her father now blind, Diana is chatelaine of Cranston Abbey in all but name. And, oh, how she wants it to be hers. Her Machiavellian employer, Lord Burnley, is in a quandary as well – he is dying, impotent, and needs an heir.
So Burnley proposes an exchange. His bastard son is actually Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft, and if Diana will have sex with Ashcroft and get his child, Burnley will marry her and gift the estate to her son. Since Diana wants Cranston badly, she hies herself to London where she beards Ashcroft in his den and asks to become his lover. What follows is almost a solid two hundred pages of lusting and sex, interspersed with occasional dialogue and character exposition.
That’s the story in detail. In a nutshell what it comes down to is that Diana is a greedy, grasping, mercenary widow who prostitutes herself for an estate that is not and would never be rightfully hers – and in case you think I’m being harsh, I’m saying nothing Diana doesn’t say. If the author wanted any hope of gaining my sympathy I needed to be shown, not told, exactly how much Diana loves Cranston. Instead of opening the book with heaps of boring sex, why not establish Diana’s motives and show that her exploitative, avaricious side is balanced equally with kindness and empathy? I need a damn good reason for her actions, and there is nothing. Sure, Diana’s full of self-flagellation. Sure, Diana gives up the scheme after Ashcroft finds out. But too bloody bad. My sympathies are all with Ashcroft.
Which is odd because while, refreshingly, he does the chasing, I can’t find much to respect in him either. His relationship with Diana is founded on a lust cycle that goes around the bases over and over again, and yet there is supposedly a metaphysical connection between them. Where? When?! They bonk for the first time in a carriage and don’t meet again for five days, and I’m supposed to believe that their souls have already meshed? Whatever.
I could go on about the writing, which isn’t bad but does clog the pages with overwrought emotion, or the fact that I really hope Laura and the American Earl get their own book (she deserves so much better), but I’ll stop here. My Reckless Surrender was over the top, unbalanced, and featured a heroine whose morals are downright screwed up. Pass.