Originally posted in Sleepless Nights Reviews.
In Total Surrender is a really good book with a formidable heroine and a tortured, murderous hero. This is my favourite combination for any pairs ever. Phoebe Pace was excellent. Not only does she run her family's business - carriage making - for her father who I assume has dementia but she has also managed to make Andreas Merrick come out of his shell and love her. Andreas Merrick is tortured person who is hellbent on revenge against the family that literally left him for dead. Andreas and Phoebe live in completely different worlds and business and the curious case of Phoebe's brother's disappearance were the only thing connecting them.
Anne Mallory, I find, is really, really, really good at creating and building sexual tension beautifully. There's sexual tension where one can go "Oh for the love of ponies, hump already" and then there's sexual tension where you don't even care if it's resolved, it's just so amusing and mesmerizing. The sex scenes weren't even that detailed and I found this to be a pretty steamy book mainly because of how these two interacted with each other. There was definitely chemistry and Anne Mallory eloquently illustrates how both Phoebe and Andreas feel about each other. I liked that she concentrated on Andreas more in the beginning though. It was interesting to see how a man who condemned himself to be undeserving of any happiness was caught unaware by happiness embodied in Phoebe bursting into his life. And Phoebe, by god, she knew what she wanted at the beginning (her company restored, her brother found, Andreas...) and she set out to get them all for herself. If you ever need a person to stand by you, it would be Phoebe, I imagine.
It's going to be redundant to say that I enjoyed the characters immensely and how they interacted with each other because I do. What confused me about this book was the plot. It took me a while to get into it. In fact, I was so confused I felt like I needed to reread the previous book. I guess I felt like there was just too many things happening that I got so distracted? For most the book, I felt like I was put in the shadows because I had no clue what was happening. I mean, you eventually pick it up before it's revealed, but I feel like that happened far too late in the book. It was definitely a set-up for a neat, happy ever after, not that I'm complaining because Andreas and Phoebe definitely deserved a happy ever after together.
It's just, I guess, I felt like the book was too muddled by a lot of things. I've been trying to read this book since May/June 2012 and I've often stopped after the second chapter. In fact, it took me a great deal of effort to get past said chapter. This confuses me because I like Anne Mallory's books. This has also never happened to me before. It's probably just the circumstances I find myself in when I read the book (the last time I tried, I killed my computer; this time around it was my Kobo). But I digress. I figured my problem with this book was that it was trying to be dark... but that was kind of not possible since Andreas was actually such a sweetheart. And Phoebe was quite literally a ray of sunshine. Once it stopped trying to be dark, it got better for me.
In Total Surrender was a good book regardless. Once you get past the setting up of the plot and the characters and the situation, the plot does progress more fluidly and things start to make sense. I guess I just kind of wish I wasn't so befuddled before I started enjoying the book.