The War Between the States not only destroyed all Michael Cantrell loved, it left the young, former Confederate cavalry officer without faith or hope, a solitary, haunted man trying to escape his demons in the vast western frontier. Then, one spring day along the Wind River, he finds himself suddenly in the thick of another life-and-death struggle - Annie Devlin's war.
Desperate to hang on to her ranch and her life, waylaid by gunmen hired by a powerful rancher who covets her land, Annie and her young brother, Robbie, fight a furious, rapidly losing battle for their lives. When all seems lost, into the fray steps a cold-eyed, steel-nerved stranger - Michael Cantrell - who saves Annie and Robbie, but is himself grievously wounded.
With Annie's care, Michael recovers not only his strength but a portion of his embittered soul as well. Fighting his powerful feelings for her, convinced he has nothing to give, Michael determines to stay with the Devlins only long enough to ensure their safety against the treachery that would destroy them. Reluctantly, Michael, who for years has known only loss, allies himself with a stubborn, courageous young woman who will take his heart by storm and test the limit of his honor, his mettle - and his passion.
A finalist for the prestigious Orange Rose Award, Terms of Surrender takes the listener on a stirring adventure that is also a heartfelt, emotional journey.
©2010 Lorrie Farrelly (P)2012 Lorrie Farrelly
I'm fairly new to audiobooks, but have found that listening to a book is a great way to conquer my mountainous TBR pile that never seems to get smaller.
The author did a superb job of capturing the flavor of the era. The story was historically accurate, gritty, romantic, and full of suspense.
I think Keith did an outstanding job with all the characters. Each character had a distinct voice. His portrayal of Michael is to be commended - not only did he have to voice the character with a southern drawl, but he also had to sing! Kudos to the narrator.
If I could have, I would have listened in one sitting. It sure made my time at work fly by!
It was not run-of-the-mill like so many other romance stories. I’m happy the couple did not have a fight-breakup, which most romance authors do. And there was no stupidity and none of my other pet peeves.
A trope I do not like is someone being framed for a crime and then having a long drawn out helpless guy in jail or being on the run. In this story a bad guy was planning a frame. I was worried I wasn’t going to like it. But when it played out, it wasn’t bad. And it was short. I thought ok, that was a reasonable way to move the plot.
The main weakness was the sex scenes. A couple of them seemed too long and drawn out - especially the one traveling to and during the hot springs scene. My mind wandered.
There was one rape and one attempted rape. They might be ok for sensitive readers since they were not long or detailed.
There is a touch of paranormal with the ghost of Gavin talking to a couple characters. Gavin was Michael’s younger brother who was killed in a civil war battle.
Amazon reviewer Mountaineer said the following. “I felt the author reveals too much. I predicted *almost* every single bad thing that happened. She needs to keep her cards a little closer to her chest, instead of revealing everything the villains are up to, as the third-person POV switched from hero to heroine to villains.” I am guessing that Mountaineer likes mysteries and suspense, but not thrillers. The difference is: in thrillers we are in the bad guy’s head and watch him as he plans. In suspense we don’t know what’s coming. I enjoy thrillers - knowing what’s being planned and then wondering HOW the good guy will succeed. This book is done in the thriller style rather than the mystery suspense style. Different strokes (genres) for different folks.
This is book 1 in the series. You can read them as stand alones. But if you’re interested, I’d suggest reading them in order since the characters interact with each other. I liked all three.
Book 1 - Terms of Surrender - Annie and Michael
Book 2 - Terms of Engagement - Robert is Annie’s brother - he meets Tess
Book 3 - Terms of Temptation - Kinley is the daughter of Annie and Michael - she meets Bram
Sadly I had problems with the narrator Keith Tracton. He had some good voices, but others not good. He sounded like an effeminate gay guy when speaking for women and children. Other male narrators do women and children without sounding that way. He should learn how to do it. Second, his voice for Michael was artificial - too low, gravely, and whisper like. I didn’t like it. If a guy is going to read a romance novel, I want him to have a sexy voice for my hero, or at least a normal guy voice. As for non-dialogue narration, he sounded robotic. Frank Mueller was a great narrator who read with a sense of wonder in his voice. I think Keith could learn from him. On the positive side, he was not as bad as some narrators whom I won’t listen to no matter how good the story. At least I was willing to listen to him.
Genre: western historical romance with a sliver of paranormal
CONTENT: About four explicit sex scenes, several scenes of murder and mayhem, including violence against a ten-year-old boy (a major secondary character), minimal or no swearing, minimal or no typos in kindle book.
Those who love Pamela Clare's MacKinnons Rangers series might really like this book -- the first in a series of three. For me, there was a little too much grim villainy. Too many mayhem scenes. Yet well done, for all that. The writing is of decent quality. The plot is coherent, at times poignant, and the smexy times sizzle -- especially in the hot springs. The historical aspects felt authentic, too. More so than most books of this genre. More so than PC's Rangers series. However, unlike Clare's writing, I felt this author revealed too much. I predicted *almost* every single bad thing that happened. She needs to keep her cards a little closer to her chest, instead of revealing everything the villains are up to, as the third-person POV switched from hero to heroine to villains.
AUDIO: I listened to this book and also read it, switching between book and audio. The narrator is Keith Tracton. He could be superb, in terms of his ability to perform character roles. Good rendition of Annie, the heroine. Unlike some narrators, he didn't make his voice all squeaky and high pitched for her. His voice for the boy was good, too, as was his impression of the hero Michael, a Johnny Reb, even though I would rather he'd used his normal voice for Michael, with a Southern accent overlaid. His normal voice is pleasing on the ears, and has more depth, texture, and resonance than his character voice. At one point he had to sing — a great little a cappella performance. However, for non-dialogue, he frequently sounds almost robotic, sometimes like a machine. So, narration gets 3.5 or 4 stars, I'd say.
STORY IN BRIEF, NO MAJOR SPOILERS:
Set in Wyoming just after the Civil War, the story spans 1865-1867. It begins with Confederate Captain Michael Coltrane, our hero, listening to his beloved General Robert E. Lee address the troops with a "farewell to arms" speech. The author made this authentic historically, including the papers Michael carries, stating that he will never bear arms against his own country again (something like that). Michael lost his entire family and is heartbroken, so he leaves Dixie and heads west on his noble steed, Jet. A year later, he happens upon Annie Devlin and her ten-yeat old brother Robbie, under deadly attack. The siblings are alone in the world, because their schoolteacher mother died six years ago, and their horse-breeder father died one year ago. A corrupt landowner wants the Devlin ranch, but Annie stubbornly won't sell and won't cave to threats and bully tactics, so the corrupt Colonel sends out his worst thugs, including a nasty piece of work named Skinner.
In the nick of time, Michael rescues Annie from rape and Robbie from murder, but he gets badly wounded. Annie takes him home and nurses his wounds. This happens early in the story. At first, Michael is aloof and distant, because he doesn't ever want to feel any more loss or pain. However, the Devlins win his heart. He becomes a brother to Robbie, helping him with homework and horses, etc. Eventually, Annie and Michael become lovers and get married.
SOUNDS LOVELY, RIGHT?
Well, yes and no. It's a fairly grim story, with splashes of joy. Like a Pamela Clare historical romance, there is no surcease fom the wicked schemes of amoral men. All three protagonists -- even Robbie -- must repeatedly battle various vicious villains. Too many times, in my opinion. However, there are some brief joyous scenes in between the mayhem. Some laughter. Some warmhearted at-home scenes, bonding with Robbie and Annie. Some fairly humorous banter between Annie and Michael, and I loved the comaraderie between Michael and his older roommate from West Point, the local Calvary Major he calls "Chief" (and Chief calls Michael "The Brat"). Eventually, some sizzling sexy times. Then a wedding at the Fort. The reception scene was quite something! Chuckles all around! There is also a lot of "coming to terms" with past deaths, and with all the Yankee men in blue -- especially the horde at the military outpost. The author neatly portrayed Michael's sense of anxiety and unease around the Yankee regiment, and his slow adjustment to them, and inclusion back into the fold.
GUILT: Michael, only 24, was a prime cadet at West Point Academy before war broke out: top of his class, tall, strong, lethal. Dark blond hair and deep blue eyes. He was born into a prosperous and loving Virginia family that didn't approve of slavery, but did uphold states rights. During the war, he lost his entire family, especially his little brother Gavin. Michael blames himself for Gavin's death. I really dislike maudlin, self-glorifying guilt-tripping scenes -- and it seems to prevail in romance books -- but in this case, it was handled fairly realistically, and the cause was believable: Michael shouldered the blame for Gavin's death because he was the one who pulled strings to transfer Gavin to the unit that came under the heaviest fire. So, Gavin, long dead, plays a major role in this book, albeit a ghostly role. Literally. There are a handful of paranormal ghost scenes -- Gavin wants Michael to be happy. I liked the scenes with Gavin the ghost. I liked Gavin's personality.
EPILOGUE: I did NOT like the epilogue, because it was just another sex scene. Who cares? The sex scenes are well written in this book -- I could feel the heat -- but after the first time or two, I lose interest. This book had about four sex scenes. In the epilogue, I wanted to see the family settled safely, with scenes of prosperity and productivity. I wanted to see Michael doing what he was born to do -- breed horses. I wanted to see MORE of Robbie, recovering nicely from his grievous emotional and physical wounds. After all the hell these guys went through, I wanted to close the book with a satisfied feeling of healing and happiness, and all I got was an explicit sex scene and a baby.
The sequel is Terms of Engagement, where Robbie, a grown man, meets his match. Haven't read it. Might do so.
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