Publisher: Avon Romance
Where did you get the book: e-ARC
Release date: 27th September.
Blurb taken from author’s official website:
The first kiss was dangerous enough…
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…
I’m a fan of Anne Mallory’s writing, and adored Seven Secrets to Seduction, the first book in the Secrets Universe series. Her last release wasn’t my favourite as I felt it was too similar in tone to Seven Seductions. But I really wanted to know how Andreas’ story would turn out as he was so ‘different’ to Roman, and is someone who you can definitely call an anti-hero.
Andreas Merrick is the King of London’s underworld, and straight off you see this by how easily he kills people, the numerous assassination attempts on his life, and how little it really seems to bother him that he can kill people and make judgments on a person’s life with a flick of his hand. I was very much thinking (and still do sometimes) that he’s a psychopath, but whilst discussing the book with Elyssa Papa on twitter, she made a great point that this is the norm for someone like Andreas — who has lived in the crime underworld since a child — and that this is the world he lives in, which to us seems very abhorrent.
For those who like to see the heroine’s POV — which is pretty much the norm for us reading romances, In Total Surrender takes the other route where it’s mainly Andreas’ POV. At first, I had a hard time adapting to that as there is no escape from Andreas’ world and his dark and homicidal decisions in regards to which nasty he’s going to ‘bump’ off next. It was almost surreal reading this. The heroine is a stark contrast to Andreas. Phoebe Pace is sunshine, laughter, and good natured to what I would almost call Hades type personality. She doesn’t blink at what he does, what she sees, and it’s quite comical in that sense. But she’s also quite manipulative under that cheerful veneer, and she’s quite a match for Andreas.
Phoebe Pace though has a determination, and she does win the war of wills between them as Andreas caves into her when she goes to see him at his Underworld lair as he holds the debts to her family’s business. I found it hard to follow what was actually going on between Phoebe’s family, what Andrea’s had to do with it, and who was this Garret person that was causing so much trouble. Add in Phoebe’s brothers disappearance, I had trouble trying to figure out just what the heck was going on. But it was so funny seeing how horrified Andreas was by Phoebe when she came back time and time again, and with her cheerful complements she handed out to him. Phoebe was a oddball of a heroine. She never ever blinked at what Andreas had done in the past, and what he was doing, and she was a character that you can’t really label. She was a mixture of things, and just like Andreas, I had a hard time figuring her out throughout the book — not that I didn’t like her though.
Andreas made me laugh out loud with his inner thoughts, and I give big credit to Mallory. He’s so damn awful about anything remotely happy. Andreas is absolutely horrified and appalled by Phoebe and how she seamlessly moves into his wicked life, and I just about bust my gut laughing when he calls her ‘demon spawn’. He’s even more horrified by his reaction to her, and how much she breaks down his wall of defense. And even when she does, he’s still not a very nice person. He doesn’t change his personality for her, but he let’s her past his vulnerabilities. The romance is quite slow, but the tension is there. Their first romantic interlude was very sexy, and there’s no going going back between them. It was almost sweet. Once they started their hesitant romance, it carries on slowly, but steadily, and the trust between them builds up strength to strength.
The main problem I had was that the external plot was the weakest. I found the pace of that to be very slow, and up to the end, I still had problems figuring out what was going on with Garret. The ending was quite rushed and in the last chapter, everything wrapped up too neatly and quickly. Christian’s, Phoebe’s brother, disappearance wrapped up in no time, and Phoebe’s ill father was somewhat glossed over.
Overall, In Total Surrender was quite a book to read, and I did enjoy it despite my issues with the pace of the book. If you like anti-heroes, Andreas is the man for you. His and Phoebe’s interactions are hilarious, and their romance was sweet and sexy at the same time.
I give In Total Surrender a B.