Violet Whitechapel committed an unspeakable crime to save a child. To escape the hangman’s noose, she takes refuge in a crumbling abbey with secrets darker than her own. When its master offers her a temporary post, Violet cannot say no. Just as she begins to see him in a new light, her past catches up to her and endangers them all.
Alistair Waldegrave keeps his daughter imprisoned in the black heart of his Gothic abbey. As he searches for a cure to the disease the villagers call demonic, his new governess brings much needed light into their lives. But how can the passion between them survive the darkness encroaching from outside their sheltered walls?
From Intrepid Reads via Netgalley in exchange for a review. I’ve read other Erica Ridley books before (such as the #DukesofWar series) and it was whilst I was tidying up my Netgalley shelf that I realised I had this book lying around for a while and needing a read and review. Whoopsie!
Dark Surrender is apparently the third (and currently last) in the Wicked Sinful series. Violet is a woman who was orphaned quite young and had to learn to look after herself by any means necessary. Ultimately she gets a job as a governess, and the story opens with the school she is working at on the brink of being closed by the new owner.
She rescues one of her charges from being attacked, only to potentially have killed the attacker, so she escapes as fast and as far as her money will take her.
She comes across a seemingly abandoned abbey, only to find that it isn’t, and that the limited inhabitants are different to say the least. There are locks on every single door, the windows are boarded up (hiding the stain glass windows), the servants don’t trust strangers or the master, and the master and his daughter (Lillian) are more than a little odd .
Marjorie, Lillian’s mother, died in childbirth, and it seems Lillian is allergic to sunlight (hints of vampires anyone?) and has been confined to her room and darkness since she was a child. All the doors are locked because she “escaped” into sunlight when 5 years old, and still has the burns to show for the mistake. All she wants is to see the day light, and she hates and resents her father for not giving her what she wants.
Seemingly on a whim, Alistair hires Violet as a governess for Lillian, and Violet manages to start breaking down some of the barriers with the child as well as the other staff. Violet also breaks down some of the barriers with Alistair, who has not moved on from the fact that Marjorie died, and he is spending all his time and money attempting to find a cure for Lillian (he, too, apparently has the disease).
There are plenty of “near misses” in terms of the sex content between Lillian and Alistair, and it’s good/interesting to see the reaction of a man who finds out that an unmarried young woman is not exactly “unaware” of the whole matter of sex – if you get my drift.
The rest of the book is about each of the major characters learning to trust each other – even Mr. Roper (the butler) and the rest of the staff learning to trust Violet. There are confrontations to be made and lies to be uncovered and dealt with on both sides. Finally, after some adjustments, a happy ending is found.
I did struggle a little to complete this – it didn’t seem to flow as easy as previous books I’ve read by this author – it seemed a little earnest and trying too hard (possibly why there was only three in the series?).
I still like this author, but will not be in an immediate rush to track down or read the other two books in this series.