Sunday, March 5, 2023

Savage Surrender by Charlotte Lamb


So many of Charlotte Lamb's old books are out of print now, so I had to make an effort to hunt this one down, but it was SO worth it. Sophie has an administrative position at a business office, working for a creep boss. One day, she almost gets run down in the street by a fancy car: surprise, surprise, it's the Greek mother of the CEO, Madame Lefka. Madame is charmed by Sophie's straightforward nature and dry humor, and offers Sophie a new role-- as her secretary-- which Sophie accepts.

One of Sophie's duties is keeping the son, Alex, out of his mother's affairs. Alex is a control freak in all things and is constantly trying to horn in on his mother's finances. The last two secretaries apparently fell prey to his charms and Madame is sick of it. So is Sophie, and the best part of the book is seeing her act as a professional obstruction to Alex, and seeing him clearly not know how to deal with her. When he tries to make her jealous with another woman, she's just like thank you, next. Sophie is honestly one of the best Harlequin heroines I've ever encountered, past or present, and I seriously adored this woman.

This would have been a five star read except for a few things. I was fine with the dub-con but I didn't like that the hero slapped the heroine afterwards. I was also fine with the heroine being in love with another man, but I hated the grooming element of it-- something which the hero, surprisingly, points out. The heroine was eighteen when the OM made a move on her-- and he was MARRIED! To her cousin! Also, the cousin, Elaine, is AWFUL. She said and did the most horrible things and I kept waiting for something awful to happen to her, but nothing did. Usually these Harlequins feel like a perfect bit-sized tidbit of story but with this one, I found myself wishing it was a little longer just so it could tie up some of these loose ends. I also didn't like that the heroine loses her fire towards the end and kind of just becomes a sad, beaten down shadow of her former self. He needed to grovel, bad.

Apart from that, I really enjoyed this book. The banter in the beginning, the development of the side characters, the personality of Madame, and Sophie's quick wit and no-nonsense personality were all great, and I could even see the appeal of Alex (except for the slap and murder threats). SAVAGE SURRENDER is definitely one of the better old skool Harlequins I've read and I loved the Greek setting and the way the heroine was given agency and allowed to stick up for herself. Even though it wasn't perfect, it's a keeper. I think I might have to read more Charlotte Lamb now!

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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