Sometimes we do get second chances. Sarah Swilp has finally resigned herself to marrying one of her father’s creditors to protect her mother from ruin when her first love, Jonathan Perry, returns to London after five years away. They parted on bitter terms when Sarah refused to give him her virginity after he callously informed her that marriage was not part of the plan. However, when she’s facing a loveless union to a man who presumes she’s been ruined Sarah decides to take a chance at seizing one night of happiness. If her past love is willing she wants to try once more for a night of passion in his arms, but when Jonathan actually agrees that one night turns into more than either party ever anticipated.
Sarah’s Surrender is the fourth installment in Lavinia Kent’s Bound and Determined series of historical erotica. Sarah Swilp peripherally appeared in the two full novels since she, Bliss, and Louisa move in the same social circles, but I never had a sense of her character other than commentary on her hideous clothing. Many aspects of her life become more clear even with the limited page count of a novella, which helped me sympathize with Sarah’s position, especially in a society where noblewomen didn’t have many options. I especially enjoyed that the heroine was younger and inexperienced but not wholly naive about life and sex; Sarah’s lack of sexual experience had more to do with her social position and opportunities than lack of interest. She also takes charge of getting herself a night of pleasure before entering a marriage of duty instead of resigning herself to never knowing how good sex could be with someone she passionately desires.
While I appreciated Sarah’s agency in the story the overall conflict between her and Jonathan made me want to slap both parties and make them sit down and just talk. Their horrible separation five years previously felt like a children’s fight blown out of proportion; I’m sure Jonathan was truly worried about being trapped into a marriage he didn’t want, but if he really cared for Sarah why would he say what he did? Her hurt and angered reaction was totally understandable, but the way they processed the circumstances just drove me nuts. His initial behaviour in the present irritated me as well since he seemed like a jerk, so I struggled with the idea that he’d been gentle and caring towards Sarah.
Now to the part that everyone wants to hear about: the sex! Sadly I found the actual sex scenes much less compelling than Kent’s previous works, but it’s not because they weren’t well-written; I just prefer more actual bondage/BDSMy content, and Jonathan’s style was willing obedience rather than hardcore kink. My frustration over Sarah and Jonathan’s misunderstanding also bled into my enjoyment of their sex, too, because it seemed like the past affected their immediate present heavily. The ending also felt a little rushed because I didn’t entirely buy how one night of good sex could erase all the bad feelings between the two. However, I did prefer Sarah getting a HEA of sorts rather than more misery and loneliness.
While this is my least favourite of the Bound and Determined stories so far, it’s still a wonderful historical erotica read. I’m sure it has someone’s exact catnip, and that reader will adore every moment and encounter. Sarah’s Surrender is also a far more entertaining read than many things I have tried, so even though I don’t love it I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting a little kink in their historical romance.
4 Explanations about Women’s Hair Pins out of 5