Customer Reviews for

Surrender to a Stranger

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2003

    Overwritten and Underwhelming

    I loved the face of the man on the cover, so I picked this book up with some interest. The back cover blurb was intriguing, and the first seventy or so pages of the book were compelling. Then everything went wrong. Ms. Monk chokes her writing with long strings of adjectives and adverbs that make her writing style extremely dense. It's a perfect example of too much of a good thing. Ms. Monk has skills - she created a great setting, excellent historical facts and she has a flair for fine details. I like lots of detail, particularly in a historical romance, but she gives so much detail that she leaves nothing for the reader's imagination. This story, which is set against the backdrop of the political and social upheaval of 1793 France and perfectly staid and boring England, has the feel of a lavish history textbook rather than a straightforward historical romance. Whoever edited - or rather, DIDN'T edit - this book needs to be beaten soundly with a hardback edition of Elements of Style. The lead female character, Jacqueline de Lambert, is completely unlikeable and boring in her single-mindedness. Her selfish, condescending nature is not softened by her 'honorable' intentions toward her betrothed, a Marquis. Though she actually cares nothing for him, she agrees to give herself to Armand St. James, as payment for Armand attempting to rescue the Marquis. The whole set-up is just a weak and clumsy excuse to get Jacqueline and Armand in the sack. Armand, aka The Black Prince who rescues imprisoned French noblesse from a date with the guillotine, is interesting, but not enough to save this book. Ms. Monk also falls into the habit I see in many romance novels - constantly repeating the internal and external motivations of her leads characters. Those motivations are glaringly obvious early in the book, but Monk mentions them again and again, practically with each mention of the characters' names. Jacqueline wants revenge ... I got it! Armand needs redemption ... I got it! Enough already! The story is also filled with annoying contradictions. Armand wants Jacqueline, but he doesn't. Jacqueline wants Armand, but she doesn't. He's not titled and therefore beneath her, and she's a snotty former noble who serves little more than a decorative purpose ... they're a creepy couple. Their love scenes are beautifully written, but evoke no emotion from this reader because neither character is at all savory. I finished this book because I paid good money for it, but it certainly doesn't compel me to search out any more of Ms. Monk's work. I love the cover art, though I feel hoodwinked by it.

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