|I have always liked Julie Anne Long’s storytelling even if I have found her plots a little farfetched at times. Ultimately, the stories have saved the books. Not this time. I found Since the Surrender tiresome, making it a struggle to finish in order to write the review. When I did finish it, I found I had guessed the “mystery” from the first clue and therefore could not even say the ending surprised me.
Chase Everslea is a military man on leave after Waterloo. He has recuperated from his injuries, although he has a decided limp and suffers pain from time to time. He is scheduled to sail within a few weeks to India as a member of the East India Company. Chase finds himself in London at the demands of his family to interview a cousin to see if he is fit for the vicarage at the family home in Pennyroyal Green. Chase is less than thrilled. On his way, a street urchin waylays him with a mysterious message to meet a lady in a little-known museum. He goes to the museum and finds a woman who has haunted his dreams for years
Rosalind March is a widow, having been married to Chase’s friend and commanding officer during the war. When Chase and Rosalind realized they had feelings for each other, they vowed to never betray the man they both loved. Chase was reassigned and he has felt guilty all these years, certain that his officer knew the truth and felt he couldn’t trust him. The officer was killed in the war and now Rosalind is seeking Chase’s help. Her sister was accused of stealing a bauble from a store, sent to Newgate Prison, and has now disappeared. Rosalind suspects that Lucy is in trouble and that one of Chase’s friends, Lord Kincade, may know her whereabouts. He was being nice to Lucy just prior to her disappearance and Lucy’s message from Newgate was that Kincade was trying to help her.
Chase struggles with whether he should help Rosalind due to their past and he also struggles with thinking his friend might be involved. There are clues in the museum, weird and erotic paintings there and in a brothel and there are sexual innuendos and outright bawdy statements throughout the story. The purpose of much of it was to see if Chase could shock Rosalind. I did not find this sexy at all.
The story proceeds as they search for Lucy. During much of the search, Chase isn’t convinced that there is really any problem, until the little street urchin’s sister also comes up missing. This seems to send Chase over the edge and he decides that now it is his duty to find the dastardly culprits, who would not only take a woman from the fringes of the ton, but now one from the streets too! Oh my!
Chase is a mix of rogue, severe military man, and at times, sultry lover. I did not really like him in any of his demeanors. Rosalind is equally inconsistent – she raised her sisters, became a military wife and all its strictures and is now a lost widow, fighting her erotic feelings for a man who she feels brings out these unwanted desires in her. She is brave but is easily distracted from her quest for her sister.
The story drags and drags. It is almost 100 pages in before the quest begins and then it is almost another 150 pages before it is clear they are on the right track. The plotlines that looked like they might develop – the feelings for the young urchin, Chase’s fear of puppeteers and even the actual villains end up being underplayed. Why make Chase’s fear of puppets so blatant when the role it plays in solving the mystery is a non-issue? This was just one of many loose ends that just left me feeling flat.
Since the Surrender is not a book that will catch your attention and engender warm feelings for the characters. While fairly sexually explicit, it was tedious to read. My recommendation is to avoid it.