Originally reviewed on Basia's Bookshelf
I picked up In Total Surrender
because I was in the mood for a good historical. I was intrigued by the concept that the hero was a crime boss, and not a duke. After all, there are a dozen and one books about a shy debutante falling in love with a peer of the realm. There aren't very many that feature a spinster attempting to run her family business, and falling in love with a man who has the deadliest reputation in London.
Andreas and Phoebe first saw eachother at the opera, where their eyes met across the hall and Andreas instantly became captivated. Not only was she not afraid to meet his eyes, she was a connection to a man whom Andreas had devoted his life to seeking revenge against. Phoebe has secretly been running her family's carriage business, as her father is out of sorts and her brother has mysteriously disappeared. Through some faulty deals engineered by her father, the business is in trouble. Phoebe has done the math, and she knows that the only man that can help her and keep it discreet is Andreas. She bursts into his office late one night and practically flips his well ordered life upside down. After so many years of striking fear in people's hearts, it's rare and a little refreshing to meet someone who is not afraid to look him in the eye. Andreas is Andreas, and danger follows him wherever he goes. Soon Phoebe becomes a target, and she and her parents move into Andreas mansion for safety. Phoebe belongs to Andreas now, and no one can harm her without repercussion.
I adore alpha men, and Andreas is as alpha as they come. He even grunts upon occasion. Andreas makes no excuses for what he is. He's bad and he's happy to be that way. He hasn't gotten to this position without a lot of hard work and he intends to stay where he is. I appreciated how consistent his character was. He doesn't fall in love with Phoebe and suddenly decides to give up his way of living. In fact, he continues to stay hard and unyielding except when it comes to Phoebe. She is one of very few people that Andreas considers to be apart of his inner circle. However unwilling he might find it. Phoebe was a very strong heroine. She was incredibly determined, and when Andreas fought her in the beginning, she found ways to work around him until he could see her point of view. She wasn't particularly beautiful, but her character and personality was such that after awhile all of that is forgotten. She becomes beautiful because of who she is. I really enjoyed both of them, and the tension between the two as to whether or not Andreas would succumb to her. Phoebe knew he was the man for her, and fought for him.
The book is told primarily from Andreas' point of view. That was the first time I've ever run across a historical romance novel that was written that way. Phoebe has a few scenes where she's driving the bus, but mostly it's Andreas. Also, the book wasn't very racy. Not that it's a deal breaker, but there's been a lot of chatter about the "fade to black" scenes. If those drive you nuts, then this book isn't for you. My Summary: In Total Surrender
entertained and captivated me from the very beginning. With strong, well developed characters and storyline, it soothed my craving for a great historical romance novel. Andreas really stole the show for me though, and it was delightful to read about his downfall. While I wouldn't say this story is humorous, watching Phoebe maneuver Andreas into doing what she wanted did make me giggle a bit. I'm a new fan of Anne Mallory and will definitely be checking out more of her work.My Rating: A-