Surrender of a Siren: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – Aug 25 2009
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
About the Author
Tessa Dare a part-time librarian, full-time mommy, and swing-shift writer. She makes her home in Southern California, where she shares a cozy, cluttered bungalow with her husband, their two children, and a dog.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Gravesend, December 1817
In fleeing the society wedding of the year, Sophia Hathaway knew she would be embracing infamy.
She’d neglected to consider how infamy smelled. She paused in the doorway of the fetid dockside tavern. Even from here, the stench of soured ale accosted her, forcing bile into her throat.
A burly man elbowed her aside as he went out the door. “Watch yerself, luv.”
She pasted herself against the doorjamb, wondering at the singular form of address implied in “luv.” The man’s comment had clearly been directed toward both of her breasts.
With a shiver, she wrapped her cloak tight across her chest.
Taking one last deep breath, she sidled her way into the dank, drunken confusion, forbidding her gray serge skirts to brush against anything. Much less anyone. From every murky corner– and for a squared- off tea caddy of a building, this tavern abounded in murky corners– eyes followed her. Suspicious, leering eyes, set in hard, unshaven faces. It was enough to make any young woman anxious. For a fugitive young lady of quality, traveling alone, under the flimsy shield of a borrowed cloak and a fabricated identity . . .
Well, it was almost enough to make Sophia reconsider the whole affair.
An unseen someone jostled her from behind. Her gloved fingers instinctively clutched the envelope secreted in her cloak. She thought of its brethren, the letters she’d posted just that morning, breaking her engagement and ensuring a scandal of Byronic proportions. Seeds of irrevocable ruin, scattered with the wind.
A cold sense of destiny anchored her rising stomach. There was no going back now. She could walk through far worse than this shabby pub, if it meant leaving her restrictive life behind. She could even endure these coarse men ogling her breasts, so long as they did not glimpse the secret strapped between them.
Her resolve firmed, Sophia caught the eye of a baldheaded man wiping a table with a greasy rag. He looked harmless enough– or at least, too old to strike quickly. She smiled at him. He returned the gesture with a completely toothless grin.
Her own smile faltering, she ventured, “I’m looking for Captain Grayson.”
“ ’Course you is. All the comely ones are.” The gleaming pate jerked. “Gray’s in the back.”
She followed the direction indicated, moving through the crowd on tiptoe in an effort to keep her hem off the floor. The sticky floorboards sucked at her half boots. Toward the back of the room, she spied a boisterous knot of men and women near the bar. One man stood taller than the others, his auburn hair looking cleaner than that of his company. A brushed felt beaver rested on the bar nearby, an oddly refined ornament for this seedy den. As Sophia angled for a better view, a chair slid out from a nearby table, clipping her in the knee. She bobbled on tiptoe for a moment before tripping forward.
The hem of her cloak caught on her boot, and the cloak wrenched open, exposing her chest and throat to the sour, wintry air. In her desperate attempt to right herself, she clutched wildly for the wall–
And grasped a handful of rough linen shirt instead. The shirt’s own er turned to her. “Hullo there, chicken,” he slurred, his breath rancid with decay. His liquorglazed eyes slid over her body and settled on the swell of her breasts. “Fancy bit of goods you are. By looks, I would have priced you beyond my pocket, but if you’s offerin’ . . .”
Had he mistaken her for some dockside trollop?
Sophia’s tongue curled with disgust. Perhaps she was disguised in simple garments, but certainly she did not look cheap.
“I am not offering,” she said firmly. She tried to wriggle away, but with a quick move, he had her pinned against the bar.
“Hold there, lovely. Jes’ a little tickle, then.”
His grimy fingers dove into the valley of her bosom, and Sophia yelped. “Unhand me, you . . . you revolting brute!”
The brute released one of her arms to further his lascivious exploration, and Sophia used her newly freed hand to beat him about the head. No use. His fingers squirmed between her breasts like fat, greedy worms burrowing in the dark.
“Stop this,” she cried, making her hand a fist and clouting his ear, to no avail. Her efforts at defense only amused her drunken attacker.
“S’all right,” he said, chuckling. “I likes my girls with plenty o’ pluck.”
Desperation clawed at her insides. It wasn’t simply the insult of this lout’s hands on her breasts that had her panicking. She’d forfeited her genteel reputation the moment she left home. But his fingers groped closer and closer to the one thing she dared not surrender. If he found it, Sophia doubted she would escape this tavern with her life intact, much less her virtue.
Her attacker turned his head, angling for a better look down her dress. His grimy ear was just inches from her mouth. Within snapping distance. If she bit it hard enough, she might startle him into letting her go. She had all but made up her mind to do it, when she inhaled another mouthful of his rank sweat and paused. If her choices were putting her mouth on this repulsive beast or dying, she just might rather die.
In the end, she didn’t do either.
The repulsive beast gave a yawp of surprise as a pair of massive hands bodily hauled him away. Lifted him, actually, as though the brute weighed nothing, until he writhed in the air above her like a fish on a hook.
“Come now, Bains,” said a smooth, confident baritone, “you know better than that.”
With an easy motion, her rescuer tossed Bains aside. The brute landed some feet away, with the crunch of splintering wood.
Sagging against the bar with relief, Sophia peered up at her savior. It was the tall, auburn- haired gentleman she’d spied earlier. At least, she assumed him to be a gentleman. His accent bespoke education, and with his dark- green topcoat, fawn- colored trousers, and tasseled Hessians, he cut a fashionable silhouette. But as his arms flexed, the finely tailored clothing delineated raw, muscled power beneath.
And there was nothing refined about his face. His features were rough- hewn, his skin bronzed by the sun. It was impossible not to stare at the golden, weathered hue and wonder– did it fade at his cravat? At his waist? Not at all?
The more she peered up at the man, the less she knew what to make of him. He had a gentleman’s attire, a laborer’s body . . . and the wide, sensuous mouth of a scoundrel.
“How many times do I have to tell you, Bains? That’s no way to touch a woman.” His words were addressed to the lout on the floor, but his ro guish gaze was fixed on her. Then he smiled, and the lazy quirk of his lips tugged a thin scar slanting from his jaw to his mouth.
Oh yes, that mouth was dangerous indeed.
At that moment, Sophia could have kissed it.
“The proper way to touch a woman,” he continued, sauntering to her side and propping an elbow on the bar, “is to come at her from the side, like so.” In an attitude of perfect nonchalance, he leaned his weight on his arm and slid it along the bar until his knuckles came within a hair’s width of her breast.
Mouth of a scoundrel, indeed! Sophia’s gratitude quickly turned to indignation. Had this man truly yanked one lout off her just so he could grope her himself? Apparently so. His hand rested so close to her breast, her flesh heated in the shadow of his fingers. So close, her skin prickled, anticipating the rough texture of his touch. She wished he would touch her, end the excru - ciating uncertainty, and give her an excuse to slap the ro guish smirk from his face.
“See?” he said, waggling his fingers in the vicinity of her bosom. “This way you don’t startle her off.”
Coarse laughter rumbled through the assembled crowd. Retracting his hand, the scoundrel lifted his voice.
“Don’t I have the right of it, Megs?”
All eyes turned to a curvy redhead gathering tankards. Megs barely looked up from her work as she sang out, “Ain’t no one like Gray knows how to touch a lady.” Laughter swept the tavern again, louder this time. Even Bains chuckled.
Gray. Sophia’s heart plummeted. What was it the bald man had said, when she asked for Captain Grayson? Gray’s in the back.
“One last thing to remember, Bains,” Gray continued.
“The least you can do is buy the lady a drink.” As the tavern- goers returned to their carousing, he turned his arrogant grin on Sophia. “What are you having, then?” She blinked at him.
What was she having? Sophia knew exactly what she...
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
Benedict "Gray" Grayson used to be a privateer. This is to be the ship's maiden voyage as a respectable merchant ship. No longer will Gray be a conscienceless scoundrel who sails the seas for profit and pleasure. Gray immediately knows that there is more to the lovely governess than meets the eye. He also understands that everyone is allowed their secrets. But when Sophia's perception, kindness, sass, and artistry begins to stir his heart, Gray simply cannot resist her.
***** FIVE STARS! Time wise, this story begins immediately following the ending of Lucy's tale, Goddess of the Hunt. Sophia was a secondary character in the previous book and I had been hoping she would get her own story told. I believe this adventure to be even better than the last. Author Tessa Dare has a wonderful writing style that allows the story to flow smoother than a calm day at sea. An enticing plot with engaging characters, this romance is pure delight. *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Sophia was first introduced in "Goddess of the Hunt," but here she becomes a much more likeable and complex character. Determined to seek true passion and cease pretending to be a demure Miss, Sophia leaves her fiance, Toby, at the altar and races off to board a ship to Tortola. She immediately both frustrates and intrigues Captain Grayson, the owner of the ship, and he, in turn, frustrates and intrigues Sophia. From there, the two embark on a flirtation complicated by two things. First, that Sophia is pretending to be Jane Turner, a governess traveling to her next post, and secondly, that Gray is doing his best to stop his raucous, womanizing ways and be more respectable for his sister's sake.
The result is a nicely paced push and pull with sexual tension that slowly builds. In fact, whereas "Goddess" opens with a kiss between the hero and heroine, this novel gives us more time to get to know the characters before they actually give in to their attraction.
There's never a dull moment in this book, but it also never feels over-done. In fact, I think Tessa Dare did a great job of paring down the story while still developing her characters to a point where it's easy to find them charming and likeable. The conflict also builds to a fun, witty, and surprising conclusion in a courtroom (I won't say more).
Finally, there are great supporting characters in this novel, namely Stubbs and Joss, which shows that Dare is able to add layers and build up to future books without sacrificing the momentum of the current novel.
If you like Julia Quinn and Eloisa James, I think you'll enjoy Tessa Dare's books. I, personally, can't wait for the next one.
(Feather light spoilers for an earlier book, Goddess of the Hunt. Nothing that should ruin your enjoyment of the earlier work, and it doesn't need to be read first. However, SoaS begins where that book left off.)
What I Bring to The Party: I'm a fan of romance novels and a recent fan of Tessa Dare.
What's It All About? Sophia, longing to experience passion and adventure, books passage on a ship sailing to the West Indies, and concocts a false identity. She meets Gray, the owner of the ship. She experiences the aforementioned passion and adventure.
The characters: Sophia made her first appearance in another Tessa Dare novel, Goddess of the Hunt. Lucy, the heroine in GotH, at first mistook her for a sedate lady without a radical thought in her little head, but discovered that Sophia had quite the mischievous imagination. The women became fast friends and Lucy gifted her one of her most prized possessions - a book about a wanton dairymaid, which figures delightfully into SoaS as well. I enjoyed this character and the first book and was glad to see her personality remained much the same. Sometimes when characters carry over, authors alter them to fit the new plot. Amusingly enough, her stories of an imaginary lover and one story in particular is repeated in both books as she tries to convince the hero that she's more experienced that she really is. She's an artist, but she would have been one heck of a writer too. What I liked about Sophia is that she's a woman who has fantasies and desires even before she meets Gray - there's no hedging as a lot of books do in making the heroine only "awaken" when the hero arrives. She's sweet and innocent, but also clear that she has wants that she's not allowed to share in polite society, and so she must escape that society.
The hero, Gray, wants to be respectable after years of being disreputable in order to secure a future for his siblings. Getting involved with Sophia is not in his plans. He, in fact, promises his brother who is the ship's captain that he won't even kiss her. And he doesn't for a really long time, but that doesn't mean that the time before that was wasted or chaste. In fact, a lot of *interesting* things occur before he kisses her, and this was foreshadowed when he made the promise. I like very much that he didn't take giving his word as a light thing, and fought his attraction more than most heroes do in similar circumstances. He was convinced he wasn't a good guy, but his actions and choices said something else.
Gray's brother, Joss, was a hard person to like. He had several rightful grievances, but he didn't seem to want to give his brother a break. By the end, he was much more sympathetic a character. Of note was the way the crew of the ship were rendered by the author. They were rough, but for the most part sympathetic as Sophia takes an interest in stories of their lives and loves.
I like Tessa Dare's narrative style a lot. She seems to be a natural born story teller and has an ability to make her heroines in particular unique characters. Lucy and Sophia both got the lives and men best suited for them, and neither would have been satisfied with the other one's life or choices. That shows me that the author isn't looking to repeat the exact same story. She also did her homework, clearly, on the vernacular of ships - it was never heavy-handed, but the Kindle dictionary got used now and again, and it made it feel authentic. (Speaking of language, Grey is angry at one point and thinks his brother is acting like a slang word for the make anatomy - not the first term that comes to mind, but the second one. The thing that a thorn does to your finger. ::grin:: That use seems anachronistic to me, but I don't know.)
Ms. Dare's also deft with a sex scene. A lot of romance readers skim these scenes, because there's a certain sameness in many of the books. I haven't skimmed any scenes from Ms. Dare's books yet - they're too good. Not only are they erotic and creative, but they're true extensions of, in this case, Gray and Sophia. About half way through the book, there is a scene which goes from scalding hot to poignant in the blink of an eye. Sophia makes herself vulnerable to Gray, feels embarrassed, and he comforts her beautifully, and in doing so repays her vulnerability. Well, until things all go awry again. The rest of the scenes are also quite erotic, but also an extension of the emotional issues between the characters.
The general impression I get while looking at other reviews is that, while this book was well-received, Goddess of the Hunt is perhaps slightly preferred. I have to say I liked this one a bit more and this is as someone who liked the first story a lot. I believe another review mentioned there was too much time spent on the ship, but I never felt confined by it. The setting was right for these characters!
Ok ladies...I've read two of Dare's books and both of them have been 5 Star reads! 2 out of 2?! How rare is that?!
"Surrender Of A Siren" is the second book in this series and I was so worried I wouldn't like it like I did the first. But WoW! Did I ever! This author has a way of making every character come to life, and at some parts this lady is laugh of loud funny!
I wasn't very fond of Sophia in "Goddess Of The Hunt", but let me tell you...Once I got to know her...I loved her! She was a brat and she new it...She was spoiled, but she didn't know how bad until she hops ship and sets out to change her life. Dare sure matched Sophia with her perfect yang.
Gray has always been a "family pleaser", and learns he must live for himself instead of living to right past wrongs... Oh and did I mention he was HOT?! Ummm-hmmmm....
I really hope you give this author a chance...She writes and reminds me of how Julia Quinn's books used to be. You know, back when short cuts weren't taken and you actually got a story, instead of pages full of bloated words?
I'm so anxious to get my hands on the next couple in the series, and I'm really hoping this author gets the fans and credit she deserves!!!
Sophia has jilted her fiancé at the altar and ends up at the docks where she will book passage on a ship to Tortola. Her new role will be a governess to a family there. Sophia must find Captain Grayson of the Aphrodite so he can allow her on his ship. She meets a Captain Grayson in a tavern and tells him her name is Jane Turner. Captain Grayson doesn't believe her for a minute, mainly because she doesn't look like any governess he's seen. Sophia is a bit vain and even though she is wearing her maid's old dress, it's her fancy gloves that almost do her in. Grayson tries to talk Sophia out of going on this journey. There is actually a deeper reason Grayson doesn't want Sophia on his ship. This voyage to Tortola is where Gray turns respectable. And with Sophia on it, he won't be able to stop from seducing her.
After much persuasion on Sophia's part, Grayson let's her come aboard. Sophia is almost home free and can spend her days painting and appreciating the rock hard cannon like muscles and charming yet dangerous look Gray has to him. Sophia is not amused when she finds out Gray is not the captain of the Aphrodite but only the owner. The captain is Gray's half brother, Josiah, who is the illegitimate son of Gray's father. Josiah is black, a child born from Gray's father and Josiah's mother who was his slave. Josiah is not happy with having Sophia as a passenger but Gray promises Josiah he won't touch her. It's going to be a very long voyage for Gray.
Sophia makes quite the impression on the crew and because Gray can't give into his urges, he is very cranky. Sophia is still an innocent, even with all her romantic talk, and has no clue why Gray is so surly towards her. One minute Gray is flirting with her, the next he is rude and keeps his distance. Rather than Sophia moping around because of the way Gray treats her, she paints and draws the men on the ship. And because Gray expects Sophia to be as uncomfortable as he is, he is not happy that she is ignoring him. Because Sophia pushes him from her mind, Gray becomes more enthralled with her and from that, things progress in a way where he can't stop himself from having Sophia. And Sophia is very happy in experiencing that passion she has always long for and with a man like Gray.
The main question arises about Sophia's true identity and whether she can tell Gray her secrets. She knows Gray will be more then displeased if he finds out her identity is a sham. Plus there is a small problem of the unpredictable weather almost destroying the ship and Gray's reputation that may get him arrested and killed.
I had a rousing good time reading Surrender the Siren. The majority of the action happens on the ship but there is never a dull moment. Tessa had a wonderful talent at keeping the reader engaged and she excels at this with her characters. Not only was it enjoyable watching Gray and Sophia fall in love, but it was just as nice when they were in separate scenes. Gray's relationship with his brother Josiah really grabs you and Sophia is able to charm everyone from the cook to the barely teenage cabin boy who forms a crush on her. And those scenes where Sophia draws Gray are exquisite.
Surrender the Siren is a bit of a role reversal. The hero Gray should be the one to ravish and plunder the virginal Sophia, but it is the other way around. The delight in reading such a book like this is watching these two interact with one another. Gray is trying to act the gentleman; Sophia is trying to figure out the best way to seduce Gray without looking like a fool. These two are just so delicious together.
Lusty love on the high seas comes to mind with Surrender the Siren. I could almost feel the wind in my hair and taste the salt in my mouth. Gray and Sophia are two people who were lost, adrift in their lives until they found one another. What more could you want in a romance?
Goddess of the Hunt