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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Review: One Summer of Surrender by Jess Michaels

Okay now THIS is what I wanted from Jess Michaels. More heat, more angst!

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: The Passionate Pen
Release Date: November 8, 2016

Lucien, the Earl of Stenfax has been engaged twice, but only in love once. That was with his childhood sweetheart, Elise. When she threw him over for a man with more money and a higher ranking title, it broke him. Now she’s widowed and he finds himself drawn to her again, like a moth to her flame.

Elise had her reasons for walking away from Lucien, reasons he doesn’t understand. Back in Society, she’s now financially desperate and is even considering becoming someone’s mistress. But Lucien keeps appearing at the most inopportune moments and it’s only a matter of time before the desire between them explodes.

Time will tell if Lucien will be able to see past his lusty drive for revenge. And if Elise can convince him she’s worthy of more, despite the past.

Now this is exactly what I expect when I sit down to read a book by Jess Michaels! I’m so glad Lucien’s story lived up to my expectations. So a few years back Lucien, now the Earl of Stenfax was head over heels in love with his childhood friend and sweetheart Elise, only she dumped him supposedly to marry a man with a higher title and more money. That event almost ended Lucien and definitely left him a shell of the man he once was. Now Elise is a widow and despite hating her for what she did to him, Lucien is still drawn to her and learns that she is so financially desperate she’s considering becoming a rich man’s mistress. Elise had her reasons for walking away from Lucien, just like she has her reasons for looking for a protector but Lucien keeps ruining her plans. Soon, Elise is forced to admit the truth to Lucien and face the consequences of the choice she made years ago, but Lucien doesn’t seem too keen on forgiving her and neither does his family.

From the start, Lucien has been a tragic figure, he fell in love with a woman and her abandonment almost cost him everything. I like a hero that can feel and Lucien felt so much that he had to bury all of it behind a mask of indifference so it was interesting to watch him meet up with Elise again and for that mask to shatter. His loss of control over his emotions was what made him in my opinion and I’m glad it happened at the beginning of the story so that he had the entire book to sort through his emotions, make mistakes, and have his “Duh, stupid” moment. He’s been so stoic throughout the first two books that I was nervous he didn’t have anything to give other than intimidating stares and brooding silence. I liked him, but more importantly he was one of those heroes that allowed a reader to feel what he felt. This guy really had his heart stomped on and it broke some part of him. I liked that vulnerability, that weakness his jumbled mess of emotions brought on.

Elise was really the tortured character in One Summer of Surrender. She made a choice that altered her life and affected the lives of her closest friends and while I could understand why she turned Lucien away years ago, it seemed like she didn’t learn from that mistake and came close to making a very similar mistake. That didn’t sit too well with me because it made Elise look too self-sacrificing and unwilling to allow others to help her when she knew she was in over her head. Again, good intentions and all but I wanted to shake her and say “Did you learn NOTHING from the first time you tried to play hero???” I still liked Elise though, it’s hard not to like a character who can love that much that they would sacrifice their own happiness to protect them. I just think she went a little over the top with that whole part.

Lucien and Elise obviously had something very special when they were younger but so much had changed since then. My favorite thing about Lucien and Elise’s relationship was that when they meet up again it’s in the least likely place and Lucien radiates so much hate mixed with longing that it immediately sets the tone for both characters. Jess Michaels took the love that was once sweet, tender, and hopeful and she wrapped it up in an angry, lust fueled shell of mistrust. The lust between Lucien and Elise was easy and expected but these two had to work hard to find a tiny piece of the love they had and make it grow together. I liked that it didn’t come easy to them, especially Lucien because he really suffered Elise’s loss and it would have been a total letdown if he had just forgiven Elise without addressing or even dealing with what almost happened to him because of her choices.

The events of One Summer of Surrender, specifically Elise’s reason for leaving Lucien tie directly into the last book of the series, and more importantly brings in the last member of Lucien’s once tight knit group of childhood friends which included his siblings Grey and Felicity, along with Elise and the mysterious Asher who has been absent for the entire series. With Felicity’s past actions being the catalyst for Lucien and Elise’s parting and that past coming back to haunt her, the buildup for the last book is pretty strong. I can’t wait to get to know Felicity and finally meet Asher.

Final Verdict: One Summer of Surrender made up for the previous book’s lack of heat without sacrificing the story itself. Lucien and Elise’s second chance romance wasn’t easy but it was worth it in the end to see them get that happy ending, even if it was tainted by a villain on the loose. It sets up the last book quite nicely.

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