by Nikki Donovan

July 2002
ISBN: 0-8217-7398-4
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

Its beautiful cover and historical setting intrigued me - enough to pick up a book by a new-to-me author. And Iím sad to say, I shouldnít have bothered.

No Surrender starts off with a sex scene. Iím not a big fan of that happening in romance novels. I like the tension leading up to it. But I guess in this book, for this story, it was needed. Problem then though is that the scene comes across as highly analytical, with constant changes in point of view that allowed for no enjoyment in it.

So now, here I am after that first chapter, made to believe that the sex Lady Nicole Mortimer and Fawkes de Cressy enjoyed was so good, they wouldnít forget it for over three years and even believe themselves to be in love. Sorry! No way!

But letís go back to the story. Nicole is married to another, but the guy is more interested in little boys and therefore sends one of his squires, Fawkes, to beget his wife with a child. Shortly thereafter, Fawkes leaves for the crusade. He does well and receives Nicole and her lands as a reward from the king. He only needs to murder her husband, marry her and live happily ever after. Problem is, Nicole bore Fawkes a son while he was on the crusade. A son that doesnít resemble him or her. A son she hid from her husband. A son declared dead. A son she is trying to protect by not revealing him to his father.

But that is not all. When she finds out that her former lover, the love of her life is about to rescue her, she tells her husband, giving him enough time to prepare his defenses. Fawkes finds out about her treachery. And so begins the tale of one misunderstanding after another. Of lies and betrayals. Of immense stupidity in both main protagonists.

Bored to death was I when reading this story. And angry enough over the charactersí idiocy to have me swearing and cursing. Iím sure Nikki Donovan wanted to create a heroine strong and independent. She succeeded in creating one TSTL (thatís Too Stupid To Live!). And him? Was he supposed to be the misunderstood, fearsome alpha hero? I only saw him as a shallow and insecure little boy. They both need some serious growing up to do.

I know that several will pick up this book for its many sex scenes Ė letís be honest! But I urge you not to bother. The sex very often results from misunderstandings and fights, leaving a bitter aftertaste in its violence, in its cruelty and humiliation. They are not pleasant or fun to read. They are not gentle or loving, reminding me of bad 80s ďbodice rippersĒ.

One thing I liked, I did find. Actually, two persons I found. Two secondary characters that show how much better this book could have been, if it had been their story. Glennyth and Reynard are both grown-up, interesting and sympathetic. However, with no satisfactory storyline, very slow character growths and unexciting sex scenes - so basically not enough to like about this book - Iím sorry to say that I have to rate No Surrender as a very big disappointment. Maybe the next one will be better? I truly hope so!

Reviewed in August 2002 by Kris Alice.

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