Dina's Reviews > Surrender of a Siren

Surrender of a Siren by Tessa Dare
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's review
Oct 21, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance
Read in November, 2009

Tessa Dare is definitely on my authors-to-watch list now. I loved her debut novel, Goddess of the Hunt, and even though this sequel wasn't as amazing as the previous book, it was still a great read.

Sophia Hathaway has just abandoned her fiancé Sir Toby Aldridge at the altar, and she's decided to finally live her life as she wants and not as her parents and society expect. She seeks passion, adventure and excitement, and she knows she isn't likely to get that by marrying a man she doesn't love. So she packs her art supplies and four dresses, withdraws five hundred pounds from her bank account - oh, just imagine the look on the face of the bank clerk! -, wins another hundred pounds at a card party, leaves a letter to her family saying that she's eloping with Gervais, her fictitious painting master and lover, and buys a passage on the Aphrodite, the next ship leaving to Tortola. Sophia's plan is simple: pretending to be a penniless governess, Miss "Jane Turner", on the journey to her next employment, she'll be able to leave England - and thus escape her parents' pursuit - and buy the time she needs (not much, only a few months) until she turns twenty-one, when she'll assume control of her inheritance and her life.

Benedict "Gray" Grayson is, in his own words, "a liar, a thief, a libertine, and worse". He's no gentleman either, but he's the owner of the Aphrodite so Sophia has no choice but to convince him to accept her as a passanger on his ship. Gray is a former privateer, which is basically a pirate sanctioned by the Crown, but now that the war is over, he's starting a new life and this will be the first time the Aphrodite will sail the sea as a respectable merchant ship. Gray knows from the start that Sophia is going to be a threat to his decision to leave his womanizing days behind, but he's also a practical man and the Aphrodite can't afford the luxury of refusing passengers if he wants to make a success of his new business. So he takes the vexing woman to his ship, and this is how their journey begins.

Obviously, spending time together in close proximity for weeks and weeks makes it hard to control the growing attraction between them, and they end up falling in love with each other. Gray opens his heart to Sophia, and tells her things that he's never shared with anyone. On her part, she isn't that open, afraid that revealing her identity to him will turn him away. But the deception will have to end eventually. What will happen when Gray finally learns the truth? Will he be able to trust her then? More important, will he be able to trust his feelings for her? If she's lied to him all the time, does he really know her at all?

Kudos to Ms. Dare's writing to make this story work for me, because I'm not a fan of pirate/privateer heroes or deceitful heroines. Gray wasn't a privateer anymore, but this book took place mostly at sea so it was as if he still was. As for Sophia, she was almost a pathological liar and couldn't tell the truth to save her life. Strangely enough, I liked both Gray and Sophia despite all that. Sure, I wanted to shake them - well, mainly Sophia - a couple of times, but I found myself rooting for them all the same.

Gray was a true scoundrel trying to reform, and I love that kind of hero. He had lied, cheated, stolen his brother Joss's inheritance - not only once, but twice - and let his sister Bel down. He made no excuses for that and he would have done all of it again if given another chance, as he believed it was all a means to an end: (view spoiler) Gray had some unfinished business with Joss, who also had some problems of his own, and I thought their relationship was one the best things of this book. I wish Ms. Dare wrote Joss's story someday, but I'm not sure it will happen.

Sophia, Sophia, where do I start? She was spoiled and selfish, but I couldn't help being charmed by her "vivid imagination" at first. Her plan to escape an unwanted marriage was, well, idiotic, but I was willing to go along with it because it was "in character". It made sense considering how her mind worked: Sophia wasn't one to go from Point A to Point B in a straight line. She needed a wake-up call, and Gray didn't mince words to give it to her after she almost died in one of her foolish antics:

"You—" He shook a finger at her. "You are so bloody stupid. You have no idea how damned lucky you are. Do you know what could happen to you, crossing the ocean alone with no money and no chaperone? Do you have any notion what a dangerous game you play, going addled with rum and then prancing before the crew like a common harlot?"

Ouch! I cheered Gray for trying to shake some sense into her, but I also felt kind of sorry for her. Yes, like the Aphrodite's sailors, I was still engaged by her "brainless" charm. But when she chose to drag her deception instead of coming clean when presented with the oportunity to do so, I had to take one star off from my rating.

As a minor complaint, the ending felt a bit rushed to me, even with the epilogue. Considering how Sophia based her postponing telling the truth on Gray's reaction to it, I was expecting a "bigger" showdown that what I was given. I wasn't disappointed, just surprised.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable read, with a wonderful hero, a likable but flawed heroine, an unusual (to me) setting - a ship! - and a story that had enough romance and action to keep me turning the pages almost nonstop. This was only my second book by Ms. Dare - well, it was only her seconnd book too, LOL - but she's already become one of my favorite authors. Her writing really talks to me.
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Reading Progress

11/06/2009 page 1
0.26% "Finally! :)"
11/06/2009 page 78
20.31% "I love TD's writing!"
11/06/2009 page 115
29.95% "Way to go, Gray! It was about time someone told Sophia how stupid her behavior is. I hope she comes to her senses now." 3 comments
11/07/2009 page 198
51.56% "Gray has just opened his heart to you. Why do you keep lying, Sophia?" 3 comments
11/07/2009 page 279
72.66% "Very emotional scene... *blinks furiously to disguise her "misty" eyes*" 1 comment
11/07/2009 page 350
91.15% "Damn, woman! When are you going to finally tell the truth? There aren't many pages left in the book anymore..." 1 comment
11/07/2009 page 400
100% "Very good read, even though I wanted to smack Sophia a couple of times. Review to come tomorrow..."
04/21/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne Oh Dina what a wonderful wonderful review. Makes me want to pack my bags a set off on a journey. On a sailing ship,to somewhere hot and humid and mysterious:).

Dina Thanks, Adrienne! The good thing is, we have bathrooms and showers on sailing ships nowadays. :)

message 3: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne Oh I don't know a wash tub and a hunky man and and a sea sponge! what more could you ask for? mind you I'd probably be seasick for the whole journey which would detract from the 'romance of it all' big time LOL

Dina Oh well, Sophia vomits all over Gray's boots in one scene and it didn't detract from the romance, so you'd be OK too. :)

message 5: by Adrienne (last edited Nov 08, 2009 09:18AM) (new)

Adrienne LOL:). I'm going to look at the blurb for her first book, but I really enjoy sea stories, I don't seem to have too many on my shelves tho':(. I kind of felt they'd fallen out of fashion, a little like highway men who I also adore [do have a bad guy thing going on here I wonder:], so any sea book immeadiately grabs my attention and the wanderlust starts.

Rane Great Review Dina, Sophia was the only thing that spoiled the book for me, I wanted to smack her toward the rushed in but TD still kept me reading and I adore her works alot :D

message 7: by Dina (last edited Nov 08, 2009 11:11AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thanks, Rane! I remember how much you (and audball) disliked Sophia, LOL. I liked her, probably because I had been warned against her beforehand.

message 8: by Angelc (new) - added it

Angelc Great review, Dina! I can't wait to read this series.

Dina Thanks, Angelc! I think you're going to enjoy these books. :)

message 10: by MelissaB (new)

MelissaB Wonderful review Dina! I am not sure if I would enjoy these books or not but you are starting to convince me :)

message 11: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thanks, Melissa! I think this particular heroine would drive you crazy, but if you want to try this new author, start with Goddess of the Hunt. I'm not saying that because that's the 1st book in the series - you know my OCD, LOL - but because it's better than this one.

message 12: by MelissaB (new)

MelissaB Dina wrote: "Thanks, Melissa! I think this particular heroine would drive you crazy, but if you want to try this new author, start with Goddess of the Hunt. I'm not saying that because that's the..."

Yes, I was afraid the heroine would drive me crazy - annoying, bitchy and/or unlikeable heroines drive me nuts in a romance.

Karen Great review, Dina. I definitely need to pick these up.

message 14: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thansk, Karen! :)

Shawna Great review, Dina! I haven't read anything by this author yet, but so many of my GR friends have raved about her books, especially Goddess of the Hunt. What's the heat rating for these? PG-13 at least, or more like PG?

message 16: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thanks, Shawna! I'd say it's PG-13: the H/h do the deed a couple of times, and these scenes aren't the "closed bedroom" type. Goddess of the Hunt is definitely better, so it's the way to go if you want to give this author a try.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice review, Dina! ;)

message 18: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thanks, audball! :)

Shawna Dina wrote: "Thanks, Shawna! I'd say it's PG-13: the H/h do the deed a couple of times, and these scenes aren't the "closed bedroom" type. Goddess of the Hunt is definitely better, so it's the wa..."

Good to know...thanks, Dina! :)

Beanbag Love Great review, Dina. I'll be checking this author out very soon. :D

message 21: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thanks, Beanbag! I hope you enjoy her writing. The good thing is, she doesn't have a lot of books out yet, so you won't find yourself overwhelmed by a huge backlist.

Tammy Walton Grant Hi Dina, great review! I just finished this book and LOVED it -- I thought the connection between the H/h (how they both "get" each other) was wonderfully done and the chemistry was sizzling. I liked Sophia more than you did, I think, but her character was believable even if you don't like her.

I feel the same way you do about Tessa Dare -- her writing really talks to me as well.

message 23: by Dina (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dina Thanks, Tammy. :) Sophia was "difficult" but I agree, she was believable.

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