Surrender to the Earl – A So-So Victorian Era Romance

Surrender to the Earl by Gayle Callen was a book I wanted to enjoy, after all Historical Romance’s usually are good for a somewhat interesting read. This was a Victorian era romance that never quite lived up to my expectations, especially given the description of our heroine and the catch phrase on the back of the book.

She wanted a favor, not a fiancé.

This alone piqued my curiosity. I had high hopes for Audrey Blake, a widow that has been blind since childhood. We learn in the beginning of the story that her family has sheltered and ignored her most of her life, it’s not until our hero, Robert enters the story that we see glimmers of a change. Robert, the Earl of Knighsbridge feels duty-bound to Audrey due to what he perceives as a ‘great wrong’ to Audrey’s deceased husband with whom he served overseas. When Audrey approaches him with a plea, he agrees to help her leave her family home and claim the property that is rightfully hers. That is not as easy as it sounds due to her father, it becomes necessary for Robert to propose, something Audrey only agrees to because it’s necessary. Of course, the engagement is only temporary and both will be able to go back to status quo afterward… or will they?

For most of the story we learn a lot of background on Audrey, she harbors a lot of pain from her marriage to Martin, and also from her family’s treatment of her, as if she were an invalid. It seems that 98% of the novel is about that, and finally in the last 2% we get our happy ending. If anything bothered me in the story, it was Audrey’s inability to recognize a difference in relationships; to recognize that she’d found a very special someone. It was frustrating that she kept brushing it off so profusely, it’s only by sheer miracle and extreme patience on the part of Robert that we do get our happy ending.

While I enjoyed the basic premise of the story, I really feel that for most of the book we are moving at too slow a pace, and in the last 20 pages it’s decided that it’s “TIME FOR A HAPPY ENDING” so everything moves at the speed of light to get us to the happy ending. It’s for that reason that I am giving Surrender to the Earl 3/5 stars. Hopefully in her next book in this series, Gayle Callen will pace the story better and make the characters more realistic.

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