I first heard about Beverley Kendall from awesome blogger and passionate romance advocate Barbara of Happily Forever After, and when I read the premise, I just knew I had to get this book. So without reading any reviews, I bought it.
"Sinful Surrender" is a book that really got me riled up as I read it. Don't get me wrong when I say that, because I did like the book, but the author definitely pushed my buttons with this one. First off, Missy is head over heels in love with James, has been for years, and makes no secret of it. And no matter how he treats her, she continues to love him, convinced despite her despair that deep down he loves her too. Then you have James, who, truth be told, could be an utter bastard to Missy. He's reluctantly attracted to her, but knows that he won't marry her, so instead of being civil and dealing with his attraction, he's abrasive and rude, and when he cannot manage to avoid her in public, he makes sure to escort a clingy, experienced young widow to whichever event both he and Missy attend, announcing without words that this is the type of woman he prefers to spend time with.
Part of the reason he behaves this way is that he's the best friend of Missy's brother Thomas, and Thomas has made it perfectly clear that James is not good enough for his sister. He won't have her miserably married to a man who will scorn her love by keeping an endless parade of mistresses. So while he considers James to be like a brother, he knows him too well to ever consider him as a suitable match for Missy. And James cannot argue with Thomas' logic. He doesn't wish to marry, nor does he believe in love, and Missy is not the type of young woman to engage in a scandalous affair with, so he treats her shabbily.
But despite all this, Missy and James manage to end up in a situation where they can't keep their hands off each other. Missy is young and inexperienced, and drowning in her love for James, while he is overcome with the most insane lust he's ever experienced, and eventually they reach the point of no return. But just when it seems like Missy may get her wish and end up with the man she loves, fate throws them a nasty curveball that James just didn't see coming...
I'm not going to elaborate on that because I don't wish to spoil the plot, and I really despise it when other reviewers do that, but there are moments when I wanted to smack not only James, but one of the secondary characters who is responsible for that previously mentioned curveball. The thing is, despite the fact that there were several moments when I questioned Missy's judgment in continuing to pine for James, I sincerely liked her. I wanted her to have her HEA as much as she did, and when it appeared that fate had other ideas (even though yeah this is a romance and their ending was pretty much a given), I sympathized with her. She deserved better.
However I had to give her credit for making James squirm. She'd reached her breaking point and wasn't going to let James win her so easily in the end. That only made me like her more, because she was not only realizing that she was worthy of better, she wanted James to know she knew it too. She valued herself more now, and had been hurt enough, and she wasn't going to let James take her for granted. Maybe if he hurt just a little, he'd know what he had been putting her through for years.
There are probably several reasons I should hate this book, but I didn't. I ran the gamut of emotions as I turned the pages, and there were times my blood boiled, but in the end, it was well worth it. I can honestly say this is a story that's not easily forgotten, and that even now, I'm writing this about a week after I'd finished reading it, and I'm still going back to parts of the story, reliving them. I cared for these characters, even when at times I didn't like them very much, and to be, that is the sign of a successful reading experience.
Good news is that Thomas' & ....his love's story is all set for January 2011. I for one cannot wait for Thomas to get his, just as James did. Ain't love grand????
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****