From London With Love

Her Notorious Viscount

Lessons From a Courtesan


The Unclaimed Duchess

A Scoundrelís Surrender
by Jenna Peterson
(Avon, $7.99, PG) ISBN 978-006-193500-8
I last read Petersonís Lessons from a Courtesan and was less than impressed. I expressed hope in that review that she would bounce back. She has definitely returned to form in A Scoundrelís Surrender and I am thrilled. This one comes close to a keeper.

Caleb Talbot was introduced in the previous tale and this story stands on its own but it is clear that there are other stories to be read and possibly to come. Caleb is the brother of previous hero Justin Talbot. In the previous tale, Justin and Caleb discover that Caleb is not actually their fatherís son. During that adventure, Caleb met his sister-in-lawís friend Marah Farnsworth and following a harrowing experience, shared his grief and hurt then made love to her. He panicked the next day and left without word. Our story opens two years later, when Justin has hunted Caleb down to bring him back to the family, since the Marquis, their ďfatherĒ is dying.

Caleb returns with an enormous amount of issues. He has not resolved anything about the night with Marah. Even with the effect from plenty of whiskey, he has not been able to find pleasure. He hates his mother and isnít sure what he feels for the man who has been his father. He doesnít know who he is anymore.

Meanwhile, Marah was so heartbroken after her experience with Caleb that she has spent the last two years hiding in a small village, living with her maternal grandmother, who just recently passed away. Marah has been seeing a man who has expressed an interest in possibly marrying her, but she feels no passion for him, only an appreciation for his reliability and stability. These two traits are something Marah craves. Her parents married in haste after a passionate courtship. Her mother, a commoner and her father, an Earl, truly loved each other. But their families did not agree with their relationship. When her mother died in childbirth, her father dumped her with her maternal grandmother and died she was still small. She has heard nothing from her uncle or grandmother on his side of the family; nothing except monetary payments two times per year. Her understanding of this gesture is that they want nothing to do with her and so she doesnít even use their name.

This is the story of Marah and Calebís so-called courtship. They are two people with issues that keep them from truly sharing their hearts, which leads to misunderstanding after misunderstanding. Peterson has kept this tale from being bogged down with the depth of her characterizations and the emotional scenes that she has written. All of their interactions seemed reasonable because of those emotions and the circumstances that one can actually recognize as being realistic responses to the situations.

Justin and Victoria from Lessons from a Courtesan play a major role in this story and I have to admit, I really liked them better here than from their book. Calebís family also plays a role and seem to be true people, not just caricatures.

The beginning of the book is a little slow paced but once the back story is covered, the pace picks up and things move quickly. Overall, this story kept me reading and I had a hard time putting it down. That alone means I recommend A Scoundrelís Surrender. In addition, I will be looking for the other books in this series, and once again, look forward to more from Jenna Peterson.

--Shirley Lyons

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