Since the Surrender
Usually I like Julie Anne Long’s books a great deal, so I am rather sad at how disenchanted I am with Since the Surrender. It’s not all bad; it’s just that it doesn’t quite work at various pivotal moments, and as this is from an author with whose work I have been so immensely pleased in the past, the disappointment is all the sharper.
Captain Charles “Chase” Eversea (when will heroes finally cease to get cool-sounding nicknames which sound so anachronistic?) has spent the last five years recovering from the terrible wounds he received at Waterloo, scowling a lot, and drinking too much. At first I thought he was suffering from PTSD. He may well do so, but his main problem is that he is so very used to being an officer – in command, cool, ordered, in charge – that he finds it almost impossible to live with the fact that due to a bad leg he will remain handicapped and in pain all his life. His family has sent him to London on an errand, which coincides with his having accepted a position with the East India Company and preparing to embark in a fortnight’s time.
A street urchin presents Chase with a note: an anonymous lady asks him to meet her in a lesser-known museum. Out of curiosity Chase goes there and is shocked to discover that the lady is none other than Rosalind March, his old colonel’s widow. During the days before Waterloo, Chase and Rosalind got caught in a forbidden attraction that left both deeply distressed. Rosalind wants Chase’s help in finding her younger sister Lucy, who has disappeared. Chase first refuses, but when he stumbles over what may well be a clue to Lucy’s whereabouts, he agrees to assist Rosalind in her search.
Chase is very much the alpha officer. He issues commands, he is usually right when he makes a decision, but on the other hand he can be very sensitive to the needs of others. His main problem is that he can’t deal with his own weaknesses, and that means both his leg and his fascination with Rosalind. I was inclined to like him a lot. Rosalind married the much older colonel to provide for her sisters; although she was genuinely fond of him, she now very much prizes her independence. She is a very sympathetic character, too, but her development only comes very late in the novel.
Julie Anne Long’s style is a delight to read, as usual, and several of her puns were so wonderful I paused to reread them. Of the secondary characters, one is particularly well-developed, while another has “future hero” written all over him but is so unexpected as a hero that I can’t wait to read his book.
So what didn’t work? The first stumbling blog was the word “arse.” Chase is obsessed with this part of Rosalind’s anatomy, which would be fine if he didn’t think about it all the time or at least used another word in between for a change. Oh, there are variations, for example “her sweet arse” or, climactically, “her sweet peach arse.” For no apparent reason, “arse” is also the word of choice when Rosalind is thinking about Chase. When a cow’s behind is discussed by the characters and they also call that “arse,” I was about ready to throw up.
Then there are some problems with logic. They are of the kind you tend to skim over at first, but suddenly I found myself thinking, “Hey, stop, wasn’t there …?” Take the color of Lucy’s hair, some architectural details, the way a picture is hung on the wall…all this could have been avoided with more thorough editing, which is a real shame.
The real killer were the sex scenes, however. I haven’t come across a couple in recent memory that has sex in more TSTL situations. All of them are in places where they could be discovered any moment, for one thing. The second and third take place in the middle of an investigation, on the result of which Lucy’s life may well depend – but Chase and Rosalind go to this place, boink before they do anything else, and leave, or plan to leave, without any actual investigating. My eyes were spinning so fast each time that the otherwise hot sex scenes were utterly spoiled for me. Not to mention that having sex there and then made Chase and Rosalind appear plain dumb, dumb, dumb.
So with engaging characters, but some logical holes, one markedly overused word, and seriously terrible timing with sex, I can’t really recommend Since the Surrender. Read some of Julie Anne Long’s other romances instead, and hope with me that with her next book she will return to her usual high standards.