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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Total Surrender by Anne Mallory

In Total Surrender by Anne Mallory
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (343 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Andreas Merrick is the king of London’s dark underworld, having amassed unimaginable wealth and power . . . and a fierce reputation that leaves even the bravest men quaking in their boots. Yet one person is maddeningly unintimidated by his fearsome presence: the persistent Miss Phoebe Pace.

And one kiss always leads to another . . .

Equal parts honey and steel, Phoebe will stop at nothing to find her missing brother and save her family. Though associating with Andreas means peril and scandal, she never expects to experience a passion so intense that it threatens to consume her. But enigmatic Andreas is no ordinary man to love. He brings dangers from all sides— without and within—while tempting her beyond her wildest dreams . . .

Phoebe Pace becomes a proactive young woman in the family business when her brother goes missing and her father’s acumen falters. Armed with ledgers, her keen intelligence, naivety, innocence, and a smile that lights up the room, she beards the lion, Andreas Merrick, in his den. He holds the paper on her father’s debts and she needs to make a deal.

Andreas Merrick is feared and avoided by even the most depraved and wicked. Even those who follow and admire him have been known to refer to him as the “demon bastard”. He and his “closeer-than-blood” brother Roman operate the Collateral Exchange and many more moneymaking businesses. They have survived and thrived in the underworld of London and above ground. Andreas carved his empire with blood, steel, and unyielding determination as he took Roman along with him. He rules with fear and an uncanny knowledge about what goes on in places of power inside and outside London.

Phoebe can plot, but mainly she operates on instincts and emotions as she infiltrates the fearsome Andreas’s world and wins the hearts of the hard case men and boys who people it. She stands up to his brutishness and compares him to a harsh thunderstorm that is beautiful, to a fearsome gargoyle that stands guard over its own, and to the dangerous yet arresting Mephistopheles. Yet, she chooses to love him and gives him control of almost half the Pace and Company assets, believing he can save it from her nemesis Lord Garret.

The intriguing entanglement of the many characters is amazing and makes In Total Surrender a compelling tale. Anne Mallory’s plotting skills hold one’s attention while the humor she manages she weaves into such dark lives gives comic relief at just the right times.

Ms. Mallory weaves a tapestry of a tale with lots of dark, ominous characters, but the bright, golden thread of Phoebe woven in liberally makes an arresting design that enthralls from start to finish. Her unique writing style with expressive metaphors creates characters that bombard one’s emotions and plots that scare and even horrify at times. But, the scenes where Phoebe breaches Andreas’s defenses and the reader gets to see the true Andrea are breathtaking. They redeem what early-on seemed like an unredeemable hero—a hero that falls “prey” to the intrepid Miss Phoebe Pace, who makes his dark world sparkle with her smile and unconditional love. This journey from darkness to light makes GOOD READING!