To Surrender to a Rogue
There’s little I like less than a contrived introduction that’s meant to be funny or to draw the reader in, but really just throws the reader into the middle of nowhere with no explanation. When that’s what I found starting To Surrender to a Rogue, my expectations were low at best. However, after a slow start to the story, things progressed to the point that I came this close to giving this book a B- grade and recommendation. Unfortunately, the dragging first few chapters couldn’t quite be reconciled.
Lady Alessandra della Giamatti is an expert in antiquities, something rather unusual for women in the 1800s. A widow with a young daughter, she left her native Italy after a close friend utterly betrayed her trust and put her in danger. Now, she’s working on the archaeological dig in Bath to uncover the Roman ruins there, and finds herself working with the infuriating and magnetic Lord James Pierson, sometimes referred to as “Black Jack.” As they spar and argue and are increasingly attracted to each other, someone from Alessa’s past returns to blackmail her and threaten her daughter, and she must trust Jack to help her.
The beginning of the book just failed to capture my interest. The characters weren’t particularly compelling, background information was disjointed and sparse, and a random peppering of Italiano words kept distracting me. This is a big pet peeve of mine, by the way– authors using randomly inserted words from a character’s native language to remind us that they’re Italian, or Spanish, or French, or whatever. Just because Alessandra keeps calling Jack “diavolo” and telling him to “Va’ all’ inferno” doesn’t make her a more interesting or authentic character. It just confuses me.
As things develop, though, I got drawn into the story. It takes a hundred or so pages, but finally Jack and Alessa start developing into real, flawed characters that have more than just a physical attraction. I would have liked a bit more of an emotional connection, but what was there was more than I expected. Thankfully, they communicate, and support each other in different ways. I was pleasantly surprised how things turned out, and that the conclusion worked out the way that it did.
There are still a number of things that bothered me about the book. I think the name of Alessandra’s women’s intellectual group is sort of lame (the “Sinners”) and there are some moments that annoyed or amused me in a way the author didn’t intend. If the entire book were like the second half, it would have been a solid B read. Unfortunately, the quality was uneven, and as such the grade dropped to a C+.