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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kiss of Surrender by Sandra Hill

Kiss of Surrender by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (219 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

It’s not easy being a Vampire Angel

No one knows that better than Trond Sigurdsson. In the centuries since he last went out drinking and wenching with his Viking buds, Trond has been a gladiator, a cowboy, a ditch digger...even a sheik. But now he’s the baddest of them all: a kick-butt Navy SEAL kicking butts of terrorist immortals with the help of his hotter-than-Hades female partner, police officer-turned-Special Forces operative Nicole Tasso—whom Trond dearly hopes to “partner” with very shortly in a whole different way.

It’s not easy being a Vangel’s lover

The “cop” part of Nicole tells her there’s something bizarre about her gorgeous godlike teammate. But her “all-woman” side can’t help wondering how great it would be to have a virile Viking in her bed. Trond has secrets galore, but Nicole feels certain she can dig them out—and really get to the heart of this powerful, unnerving stranger whom she may be risking her soul to love.

How does a man, inherently lazy, a slacker and a jokester ever become a convincing Navy SEAL? When a guy has the right motivation, has one of God’s warriors on his back and the penalties for failure is, literally, hell.

A reader initially meets Trond Sigurdsson at his most unmotivated – unwashed, uncaring and the term lazy is an understatement. His crime of sloth was very serious because he held a position of importance. To do those things meant others paid the price. The cost was such that he became one chosen to become a Vangel. Unlucky for him, lucky for me because his story to redemption was nothing short of fascinating.

I reviewed the blurb before writing this review and I don’t believe it does justice to the richness and seriousness that flavor this book. At first Trond and Nicole hate each other and their confrontations are full of verbal sparring and clever taunts. Trond even bit her on her apple. Their exchanges are truly entertaining and I enjoyed their reactions to each other. Their gradual growth, from intense dislike, to awareness as man and woman and then onto building trust to ultimately depending on each other for life and limb made for a gripping story. There wasn’t a slow spot in the novel.

Nicole was a strong character. She didn’t think so and a reader understands after the author revealed what the heroine went through. Nicole was her own worst critic but she doesn’t hide the truth from herself. She tried, oh yes she did, but eventually, Trond’s inherent yumminess won her over and she had to admit that she finally succumbed to loving a person - the very kind she’d sworn never to get involved with again. But she never met a man like Trond before. The more she learned about him, the more questions she wanted answered because the hero was a mystery to her. As readers know, with good reason. The process of getting to know the hero meant I got to see her grow as a person. I liked her character.

Once again, Jasper, the ultimate villain and sexual sadist, has a plan. It’s as vile and as topical as one would wish. That being said, I was amazed as to the political references made in this book. There is no possible way that Ms. Hill could have predicted how some points in her storyline followed the happenings in real life. When I read this book, it was around 9/11 and the similarities were eerily accurate. It was freaky. Because of it, reading the story made me a bit uncomfortable because it gave an element of reality to the atmosphere of the story. Because it made it feel real, it scared me.

Another hard hitting revelation for me, and I’m sure quite unintended by the author, is the possible reality of the theory that every soul has the potential to be saved. I refer to villain assistant, Zeb. Once I read the ending of this novel, I had the strangest feeling. I’m aware of Christian dogma and the theme that encompasses the story of Saul turned Paul. That a man who persecuted the early Christians with zeal and fanaticism and was dead set on destroying any and all he came across, could somehow be saved, changed and become a believer and proponent of the forgiveness of God. I came away from this reading experience with a shivery sensation – that no matter how vile, evil and depraved a person may be, and perpetrates acts that offend our values and beliefs, it ultimately is not our place on this earth to judge a person’s ability to be redeemed, saved and find their way back into Grace. I’ve heard the He sees into our souls where no mortal has a clue and whether Ms. Hill meant to or not, she taught me to let go. Or at least try. It made me realize it’s not my burden to carry; the burden to condemn others and call them irredeemable because of what they’ve done. I refer to the terrorists because in this story, the author surly voiced what a lot of people feel. And yet, there is Zeb. Zeb is her Saul. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she’ll do with his character in the future. When she does, it’ll be an auto-buy. The author has created a compelling situation that begs to be explored. I hope she does.

Back to the overall story of Kiss of Surrender. I heartily recommend it for all Sandra Hill fans and anyone who is enjoying the latest hot genre of angels versus demons. Trond really is a sweetheart in spite of all his failings. Love has a way of smoothing out the most bumbling of sinners and the power of it is effectively explored. I think Nicole and Trond make a sizzling couple and the sensual build up was extra hot because they try so hard to not succumb. There is the classic sense of humor and clever word play that is the signature of every adventure that Ms. Hill writes and this one continues the legacy. Ms. Hill also provided a wonderful and exciting surprise – some characters from her Viking series showed up and it was awesome to see some of them again. It caused some serious ear to ear grinning.

Ms. Hill has a vibrant and powerful storytelling voice and it comes through loud and clear in Kiss of Surrender. It’s a must read.