by Julie Anne Long
SINCE THE SURRENDER is the third book in the Pennyroyal Green series, the story of a wicked indiscretion, a disappearing sister, a sinister museum, a puppet phobia, a busty angel painting, and an explosive, long-denied passion between Miss Rosalind March and Captain Charles “Chase” Eversea, whom we finally get to meet.
Finally, you ask? Well, we’ve had a few clues about Chase in the first two books. Among the many pleasures in writing a series rooted in the entwined fates of the Everseas and Redmonds--two powerful, passionate, rival aristocratic families bound by ancient secrets and grudges and a very inconvenient curse (think Montagues, Capulets, passion, disaster--along those lines)--is leaving a breadcrumb trail to future stories throughout the books. Sometimes the hints are pretty overt; sometimes they’re sneaky; but the delicious part for me is accustoming readers to the idea that behind every character or incident introduced or mentioned in the world is a potentially big, rich, story--and always, always a potential for a passionate romance--that adds depth and resonance to the series.
It pays to pay attention as you read, but you might just soak it up by osmosis, regardless. And, I can guarantee the romances will be as singular as the characters, and appropriate to them. [read more about the series premise, the locations and the cast of characters here: CLICK. Read the series prologue in the beginning of THE PERILS OF PLEASURE.]
It’s also fun to use these two families--and their very distinctive points of views about each other--to illuminate not only their own characters, but characters we’ll be spending more time with in upcoming stories. Take Chase, for instance. We briefly saw him through the eyes of his brother Colin, renowned black-sheep rogue, in THE PERILS OF PLEASURE: he’s the brother who came back from the war with a “heroic limp” while Colin remained unscathed.
In the second book in the series, LIKE NO OTHER LOVER, we spend time with the Redmonds. Miles Redmond and Cynthia Brightly are our hero and heroine, but we get a quick look at Chase through the considerably less charitable eyes of Violet Redmond, whose opinion is (perhaps naturally) colored by the fact that her family has born the brunt of that infamous Eversea/Redmond curse: an Eversea and a Redmond are bound to fall in love once per generation, with disastrous consequences. When the series opens, her oldest brother Lyon has disappeared, allegedly because Olivia Eversea broke his heart.
Violet tells her friend Cynthia Brightly that Chase can be found often sitting alone in the Pig & Thistle in Pennyroyal Green, drinking the night away, another Eversea on the way to dissolution. “And wasn’t Chase an ironic name for a man who couldn’t run?”
So on to SINCE THE SURRENDER. Who is Captain Chase Eversea? Is he the hero Colin thinks he is? Is he drinking himself to dissolution? Why, and why? And, what kind of romance lies in store for him in SINCE THE SURRENDER? If you guessed it’s rooted both the heroism and the brooding, you’re correct: he’s a man with a past, a soldier renowned for heart-stopping good looks, bravery, brilliance, and ruthlessness...and he’s also a human, with memories of a secret, wicked indiscretion, a secret puppet phobia, and an acerbic sense of humor.
He doesn’t recognize it, but he’s irritable and insufferable and guarded and lost when he meet him. His family sees it all too clearly. They kick him out of Sussex, ostensibly on an errand to London, but really because they recognize that Chase desperately needs to get outside of himself. Chase thinks they can’t stand the sight of him anymore. (Which is also not far from the truth, given how charming he’s lately been).
But the Everseas are as similar to--and different from--each other as siblings generally are. Whereas Colin served in the war, Chase was born to be soldier, and so the war both shaped and reshaped him, literally (in the form of a leg that will never be quite what it once was) and figuratively. He was admired and revered by the men he led and the implicitly trusted right arm of his colonel. But surrendering to an impossible love proved he was human when he needed to be a coldly rational soldier, and led him to betray the man he admired most. He’s suffered ever since--again literally and figuratively.
Redemption for Chase lies then in confronting his past, in rediscovering his power and purpose, in surrendering to a destined passion he’s held at bay for five years, and in forgiving himself...and Rosalind March.
Ah, Rosalind March. Aka, "trouble". The lovely Rosalind March, once a flighty, charming girl desperate for the handsome captain’s attention and now a coolly self-possessed woman, is the widow of his commanding officers. She’s spent the five years since the war--and since that unforgettable moment shared with Chase--telling herself she’s cherishing her hard-won independence in the quiet of the country after a life of duty...without recognizing that she, like Chase, has gone into retreat against life and love.
It takes the disappearance of Rosalind’s daffy sister Lucy from Newgate after an arrest (she claims she didn’t really steal a bracelet; she was just trying it on...outside the shop) to reunite them. Confronted with the possibility of betraying yet another friend for Rosalind--Rosalind thinks Lord William Kinkade, another former soldier and a good friend of Chase’s--is involved in her sister’s disappearance. Chase struggles with his sense of honor yet again.
But Chase never could resist Rosalind--she’s his weakness, but she’s also his strength. And, soon enough, he’s lured into an investigation involving a sinister old museum, an insistently bold, filthy, and irrepressible street urchin named Liam, a corrupt ring of aristocrats, a busty angel painting, and a confrontation with his own sense of right, wrong, and duty and all those pesky gray areas in-between.
Oh, and puppets. Only for Rosalind will Chase confront a pair of creepy, prophetic puppets who seem to be delivering clues from a theater on the square.
Around every corner--in a brothel where a big clue hangs in the form of a prurient angel painting, in a museum room dominated by an enormous, ancient bed, in the quiet of Rosalind’s borrowed townhouse--Chase relentlessly, gently woos Rosalind with her own dormant, simmering sensuality until...naturally, passion explodes.
But what will these two wounded, quirky, passionate, strong-willed people do about it? Do they have a future? Read SINCE THE SURRENDER to find out.
And, don’t forget to look for the sneak little hint in there about what will happen to Violet Redmond in I KISSED AN EARL. But to catch it, you have to read LIKE NO OTHER LOVER FIRST.