Although I did a drive-by of this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. About the hero mostly. Benedict “Gray” Grayson. And, I admit, the heroine as well. This story mostly takes place on a boat (the Goat Boat) headed for Tortola, which if you’ve read Goddess of the Hunt, is where Lucy fantasizes about going. Sophia picks up the fantasy and runs with it when she deserts Toby at the altar.
What I loved most about Gray was the way he admitted to himself that he was basically a scoundrel, but that he tried his hardest to keep his promise to his brother not to ruin Sophia. And that he absolutely could not stay away no matter how hard he tried. And that Sophia was the main pursuer. She sought him out, wanted to seduce him – was in fact, looking for a passionate encounter. Passion is what was missing from Sophia’s life in England, and she wanted it with… well… a passion, LOL. She couldn’t understand Gray’s vain attempt to be gentlemanly. She wanted to know. And he showed her.
There is something so seductive about a man who simply cannot help the way he feels about his woman. Gray is such a man. Yet at the same time, he doesn’t feel worthy of Sophia. Without further ado, I’m going to give you Gray. If he doesn’t sell you on this book and make you fall in love, well… what’s the matter with you? Passages like these highlight both Gray’s internal struggle with his feelings and Dare’s amazingly beautiful prose:
Would she still allow him to hold her like this, encircled in his arms, her backside pressed against his swelling groin, if she could read his thoughts? If she knew that when she tilted her head to bury her face in his sleeve, she gave him a direct view of the alabaster curve of her neck, the carved ivory of her collarbone, and the exquisite image that would haunt his dreams – the soft, rose-scented valley between her breasts? God, what a lecherous bastard he was.
He’d been ashamed of many things in his life, but never had he felt so ashamed simply to be a man, a part of this violent, brutish race of creatures who flogged one another, beat helpless boys with markine-spikes, and lusted after unsuspecting governesses while they were overset with emotion. This woman was bred for better things, deserved better things. Better than this ship, this life. Better than a base, craving creature like him.
I love that Gray reveals so much of himself to Sophia, and opens himself to her, to love. And is so hurt by her actions.
He’d opened himself to her completely, and she’d been lying to him since the moment they’d met. In all the days aboard the Aphrodite, was a single one of her smiles ever truly for him? What fraction of her heart had she revealed to him, in all their conversations? When he’d held her, caressed her, entered her – had he finally reached some layer of her being where the lies ended and the real woman began? Gray didn’t even want to ask. Because he already knew the only answer that mattered. How much of her was his? Less than all.
And therefore not enough.
And if that isn’t enough to make you fall in love with him… I leave you with this:
He wanted… he wanted so many things. Simple pleasures. To buy her a dozen muslin frocks to replace the one he’d destroyed today. To feed her succulent fruits and ripe cheeses and slices of roasted meat. To lay his head in her lap and feel his fingers in his hair, and listen to all her fanciful dreams. To share thoughts without exchanging words. To lay with her, be in her, feel her body surround him as often as she’d allow. And a child… God how he wanted a child. He’d been fighting that desire for more than a year, ever since he held his newborn nephew in his arms. It was irresistible in the most base, selfish way, this impulse to create a life. A child would be bound to love and admire him, no matter what he did. A child would be bound to accept his love. A child would bind him to her, forever. Somehow it always circled back to her. He wanted her.
Sigh. How can you not love that man? Heroes? Yup. There's one for you.
The third book in this trilogy, A Lady of Persuasion, is about Gray's sister and Sophia's fiance (and Lucy's first love) Toby. Boy, that guy gets around, huh? It comes out on Sept. 29.
All quotes courtesy Tessa Dare
Surrender of a Siren
Desperate to escape a loveless marriage and society’s constraints, pampered heiress Sophia Hathaway jilts her groom, packs up her paints and sketchbook, and assumes a new identity, posing as a governess to secure passage on the Aphrodite. She wants a life of her own: unsheltered, unconventional, uninhibited. But it’s one thing to sketch all her wildest, most wanton fantasies, and quite another to face the dangerously handsome libertine who would steal both her virtue and her gold.
To any well-bred lady, Benedict “Gray” Grayson is trouble in snug-fitting boots. A conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for pleasure and profit, Gray lives for conquest—until Sophia’s perception and artistry stir his heart. Suddenly, he’ll brave sharks, fire, storm, and sea just to keep her at his side. She’s beautiful, refined, and ripe for seduction. Could this counterfeit governess be a rogue’s redemption? Or will the runaway heiress’s secrets destroy their only chance at love?