Thursday, August 28, 2014

#40 [2014/CBR6] "Since the Surrender" by Julie Anne Long

I usually only double up my romances when the first one has disappointed me. Between the Devil and Ian Eversea left me surprisingly dismayed, considering how much I usually enjoy Julie Anne Long's books. So I decided to give her another try with Since the Surrender (2009). If I could take how I felt about the beginning of this one with how I felt about the end of Between the Devil and Ian Eversea, I'd have a fully satisfying romance novel. Unfortunately, this one had a promising start, but the ridiculous implausibility of the plot took me out of the story in the end.

Captain Chase Eversea and Rosalind have a history, which you discover as you read. Rosalind used to be married to Chase's commanding officer, so I'm sure you are already guessing what went down. They haven't seen each other in years, but Rosalind seeks out Chase's help when her sister goes missing. Like I said earlier, this was a very promising beginning. Passion and thwarted love in the enigmatic past of Chase and Rosalind, as well as the tension and mystery of a missing family member. Chase and Rosalind already care about each other and work well together. They had good chemistry, and I enjoyed reading about them.

The problems started as the mystery unraveled--it was ridiculous. ***Spoilers ahead*** Some rich, old army buddy of Captain Chase's decided to start his own, special brothel. His brothel is staffed by women who have gotten themselves in trouble with the law and are facing either hanging or transportation. They are given the option of working off their debt to society or facing the draconian justice system. And they wear costumes! And the John's wear costumes, too. They use a secret passageway between an old museum and an old, dilapidated building in a worse part of town (that's been fixed up on the inside), so they can come and go without much scrutiny. Rosalind's sister has fallen prey to Chase's friend as well as the daughter of a puppeteer, who sends Chase vague clues about where the women are through public puppet shows. How public puppet shows are more subtle than just finding Chase and telling him what's going on is beyond me, especially since the puppeteer does simply tell Chase what's going on in the end.

The whole idea of stealing women from the gallows to be used as sex slaves was very disturbing. Perhaps the costumes were an attempt to add humor to a situation that is not fun. I thought I figured out what was going on, but couldn't imagine that Long would have the heroine's sister constantly raped for weeks while her sister falls is love. It's rather dark for a romance novel. Long gets around this by having Chase's friend not force any of the women, but simply offer them the opportunity for their escape-- [because he's above rape, although I wouldn't consider a choice between sex and death any kind of consent]. Of course, Rosalind's sister and the puppeteer's daughter do not take him up on his offer because they are proper young ladies, and they are rescued before their virtue is compromised. Oh, also, if you were sure that something bad and illegal is going down at this old museum, would your first instinct be to sneak in after hours and have sex on some old bed? Naked and distracted is exactly what you want while solving dangerous mysteries.

It's too bad about the plot because I liked the two characters and their relationship. In fact, I usually like some suspense and mystery thrown in for some excitement. Unfortunately, the plot was so distracting I couldn't take the characters seriously anymore.

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