Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Review: In Total Surrender

In Total Surrender
By Anne Mallory
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Four Stars

Andreas Merrick is a man of great power and wealth, ruthless in achieving his ends and accustomed to being in control of himself and his dark and dangerous world.  A tortured soul, driven by the need for revenge, few are allowed to see beyond his scarred, intimidating surface. From his first glimpse of Phoebe Pace, he is both fascinated by her and angered by his inability to ignore her.

As a creature of light, warm and affectionate, who connects easily to others, Phoebe is Merrick’s opposite, but she is a match for him in intelligence, loyalty, and strength of will. She displays not only extraordinary competence in covering for her father’s absence but also admirable tenacity and courage in her refusal to be intimidated by Merrick. It’s rare to find humor in a story that has such darkness at its core, but Merrick’s responses to Phoebe’s persistence and his unwilling consciousness of her presence, no matter how determined he is to ignore her, are amusing. She keeps escaping from the narrow confines he uses to define her, and his control over his responses to her keeps slipping. In one scene he finds that she has entered his office, despite three locks.

“What are you doing?” He had meant to bark it or hiss it or emit it the way some feral animal might. Instead the question emerged strangled.”

As their relationship builds, Merrick, who trusts almost no one, begins to trust Phoebe even as his growing feelings for her impinge upon his carefully constructed view of himself.  She becomes more important than the hunger for revenge that had driven him for most of his life. But even as his enemies are destroyed and questions about his past answered in surprising ways, one secret remains, one that could cause Phoebe to leave him in his darkness.

Mallory crafts a complex hero and heroine who are larger together than they are separately. Merrick is a tortured hero both as the result of evil visited upon him in his childhood and as a consequence of the need for revenge that has consumed him. Because much of the book is in his point of view, the reader understands Merrick’s darkness and his futile struggle to resist Phoebe’s ability to lift the darkness. Phoebe is just as unusual. She possesses a sweetness that could have been cloying had it not been tempered with strength and a remarkable clarity of vision.

The weakness in the novel is that Merrick and Phoebe are such splendid characters and the interaction between them so compelling that everything else pales in comparison. The secondary characters lack dimension. Even the villain seems a toothless tiger, still roaring but essentially powerless. The best moments aside from the dance between Merrick and Phoebe occur when Roman, Merrick’s brother and hero of an earlier book, One Night Is Never Enough (March 2011), briefly appears.

Have you read any of Anne Mallory's Secrets books? Who's your favorite tortured hero?  


quantum said...

Anne Mallory is new to me but so was Susan Mallery a short while ago.
You recommended 'Fools Gold' Janga and I loved that series so I reckon I might try Mallory's 'Secrets' as well
Thanks for the rec.

I don't really fall for tortured heroes. I'm more of a heroine admirer. *grin*
If I had to pick one though, I might go for Balogh's Sydnham Butler ('Simply Love' I think).

I'm whizzing around the internet catching up, having been away on holiday, and was fascinated by your voice comments. It seems that my voice is the sum total of everything that is me, or has influenced me, even the cadence of my ancestors, neighbours and education.

Clearly little hope of giving a computer a human writing voice! LOL

Thanks also for highlighting Robyn Carr's forthcoming Christmas book.

Janga, I have no idea how I would cope without all the info in your wonderful blog. *smile*

Jane said...

I'm a huge fan of Anne's books. I loved "Seven Secrets of Seduction." The ending made me cry.

Janga said...

Q, thank you for your kind words. Let me know what you think if you do try Mallory's Secrets series.

I'm pretty sure you're going to like the new Robyn Carr. :)

The voice definition belongs to Barbara Samuel, but I certainly agree with her and with your conclusion about the computer.

Janga said...

Jane, I think Seven Secrets of Seduction is her best book. It's truly an extraordinary read.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your view.