Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: Surrender by Pamela Clare (4 stars, historical)





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Thoughts After Reading:
My preference in romance books tends to side towards being lighthearted and funny, rather than dark or intense. Ever once in a while, however, a darker story will catch my interest and I'll give it a shot. Such was the case with Pamela Clare's Surrender. It was a well-written read, and certainly an interesting one. Set in America during the French and Indian Wars, it tells of two Scottish people who find love amidst the bloodshed.

Both characters start out suffering a great deal of pain and betrayal. The hero is an banished Scot, who has taken up farming in America with his two brothers. After their fighting prowess is inadvertently witnessed by a powerful British lord (they were saving a victimized person), the lord used a fake murder charge to blackmail them into commanding a company of Rangers until the French war is over. The heroine, meanwhile, is a Scottish lady that is betrayed by her uncle. She grew up loving her relative, until she finds him forcing her widowed mother with perverted sexual acts. The mother dies as a result, and - since the heroine witnessed the event - he has her cruelly branded and sent to America as an indentured servant for fourteen years. The plot picks up quickly and then continues to move at a rapid pace. Several months into the heroine's servitude, her cruel owners are murdered by raiding Indians. She runs away, but the enemy Indians catch up with her. The hero witnesses her plight while commanding a scouting party. His conscience prevents him from allowing an innocent woman to be raped and murdered, even though by doing so he endangers all of the soldiers at the fort. After single-handedly killing her attackers, their adventure (so to speak) begins. This includes a desperate race back to the fort before revenging Indians catch up with them, and various issues that pop up as they move back into the fort, not the least of which is the hero and heroine coming to terms with their relationship. The romance seems pretty valid and even becomes moving at times, although it's one of those storylines where the reader only gets glimpses into their life over weeks at a time. The greater time span makes the romance more plausible, but also causes the reader to miss out more on the everyday details. That was one of the reasons I felt the book deserved a lower rating: the reader wasn't able to get that involved with the romance. The other reason is that is was just hard to deal with all of the elements of darkness and crudeness that were part of the novel. Which, on the crudeness side, includes rape attempts, perverted men, and a few scenes between the hero and heroine that - while consensual - seemed a little forceful on the side of the hero.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Pamela Clare's Surrender. It was a good, action-filled historical novel that kept me engaged in the storyline, interested in the area of history it represented, and it ended on a happy note. At the same time, though, the dark themes caused my enjoyment to be rather bittersweet. I'd recommend the book if it sounds like your cup of tea (it is a highly rated novel), but I don't think I'll be rereading it in the future.

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