Season for Surrender
By Teresa Romain
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Alexander Edgeware, ninth Earl of Xavier, is a man of polished surfaces. He carefully crafts the image he presents to his world who knows him as a man who never loses with women or wagers. Because his image is important to him, he allows himself to be manipulated against his own instinct and better nature into placing a wager with his distant cousin, the Marquess of Lockwood. The bet involves Xavier’s inviting a proper young lady to his annual Christmas house party, a gathering known for its disreputable guests and dissolute celebrations. If the proper young lady remains at the party for the full two weeks, Xavier wins the wager. If she leaves, Lockwood wins. The amount of the wager is insignificant. What matters to Lockwood is winning against Xavier who enjoys his reputation of never losing a wager. Lockwood chooses the young lady—the Honorable Louisa Oliver.
Louisa Oliver is more interested in books than beaux. So shy that few people are aware of the sharp wit and quick perception that give lie to the impression of Miss Oliver as nothing more than a quiet bluestocking, Louisa has been particularly eager to avoid society. The whispers surrounding her step-sister’s marriage to the man to whom Louisa had been engaged and the airing of all their secrets in a scandal rag (Season for Temptation) have not disappeared even nine months later. But Louisa has completed cataloging her broth-in-law’s library, and she has grown weary of the dullness of her life. Books are well and good, and she’s always interested in discovering new ones. But she’s ready to mix a little real life spice in with the literature that is her regular fare. Perhaps the unexpected invitation to Lord Xavier’s house party will prove to be the opportunity she needs to find the spice. With her aunt, the irrepressible Lady Irving as chaperone, Louisa sets out for the Christmas party.
Louisa realizes almost immediately that there is more to Xavier than his reputation. They spend time together, much of it appropriately in his library, which, as Louisa tells him, has “potential.” Gradually, she discovers Alex, a very different man from the careless, sophisticated Lord Xavier. And Alex comes to appreciate the charm and honesty and intelligence of Louisa. Image and reputation still matter to Xavier, perhaps too much. As Lady Irving says to him, “You’re a young man, and that means you do stupid things.” But he’s smart enough to know that what Xavier has valued most means less than nothing when weighed against the value of whom Alex loves.
I was one of the fans who hoped for Louisa’s story after reading Season for Temptation. I found her an interesting, endearing character in that book, and she’s even more engaging in this one. I loved watching her discover how much more she is than she has ever realized and how she pushes Xavier to reexamine the assumptions upon which he has built his public life. I like appearance versus reality as a theme, and Romain handles it skillfully in this story. Lady Irving is as delightful as she was in the first book, and Xavier’s cousin Jane is an enormously appealing young woman. I can definitely see her growing into a heroine.
I’m an equal opportunity historical romance reader. I enjoy angsty reads and I enjoy light-hearted reads. I even enjoy what I call cotton-candy romances, light and sweet but essentially insubstantial and offering no nourishment. But my favorite light romances are not all froth; they have substance as well as sparkle. Season for Surrender is the second kind of light romance. It has warmth and meaning. It’s going on my list of Don’t-Miss Christmas Reads of 2012. Don’t worry if you haven’t read Season for Temptation. Season for Surrender works quite well as a standalone. And for those of you who share my fondness for literary references, this book is a treasure.
We are still eighty-two days away from Christmas. What do you think of the abundance of Christmas books releasing this week? Are you ready to start reading Christmas romances before Halloween?