Lord Xavier is the darling of the ton. He can do no wrong; all the women want him and all the men want to be him. Xavier has a clever response for every situation, as well an appropriate expression (he even has them numbered). Xavier is the perfect earl, or so society believes. The thing about a reputation is that one must maintain it at all times, and one becomes defined by one's reputation rather than for oneself. No one really knows Xavier, and he is a lonely man; one who doesn't realize how lonely he is until he spends time with Louisa Oliver, the one woman who sees through his mask of Xavier to the real Alex.
Louisa is the jilted stepsister from the previous book. Louisa hated her season and being the center of attention. She is much more comfortable in a library reading or cataloguing books. While Louisa is happy that her stepsister found love with her former fiancé, she wants the same for herself. When Louisa catalogues herself she isn't happy with what she finds, so when the invitation to Lord Xavier's house party arrives Louisa intends to add a few more things to her self catalogue. The things highest on her list is to “get kissed, find some interesting new books, convince the polite world of her charm, and get kissed some more.” Check, check, check and double check!
The old Louisa would have run fast and far at being the object of a bet for ten pounds, no less, and at incurring the attentions of Xavier's cousin Lockwood. But, the new Louisa decides to face the monster head on, and she does get the better of Lockwood at every turn each time he tries to scare her and make her run back home. I loved how Louisa very subtly and very quietly made her point for Lockwood to keep his hands to himself. She showed everyone that there was more to her than just the scandal of a broken engagement to a quiet little mouse. She was my hero during this story.
Theresa Romain scores another hit with Season for Surrender. It was just as charming and funny and sweet as her debut book, although not all of the characters were nice. Alex's cousin Lockwood was a mean SOB, and for most of the book I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when he was being such an ass to Louisa but, when he said that he would violate Louisa if Alex proposed to her, he topped my list of most hated characters. I really hope Ms. Romain doesn't try to redeem him and give him his own HEA because he definitely does not deserve one.
Alex was extremely tired of his public role but, he saw no way to get out of it - until Louisa, and when he did, it was cheer-worthy. Alex was a worthy hero for the shy, bluestocking Louisa. I've read a lot of Regency era Christmas party stories and for the most part they seemed a little dull. Not this party. They wagered on everything, even collecting mistletoe, and it wasn't always Alex or Lockwood who came up with the bets; more often than not it was Louisa herself or her aunt.
I had so many “ah” moments while reading Season for Surrender, especially in regards to Alex, like when he went to the Christmas church service in his village and his epiphany that he is never at his country estate, and has done his tenants a disservice, so much so that his tenants no longer save the family pew out of respect. That is just one of Alex's many revelations that made me enjoy this book so much.
A Season for Surrender is an utterly charming little story with a fun Christmas house party, and some not quite so respectable characters. If you haven't read anything by Theresa Romain before, what are you waiting for? Go out and devour both of her books, they are full of humor, great characters, and really lovely romances. I can't wait for more books by Ms. Romain.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero