I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Earl's Complete Surrender by Sophie Barnes
Series: Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #2
Published by Avon on December 29th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Purchase Links: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound
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An unexpected passion ignites as secrets are exposed in Sophie Barnes's captivating Regency-set romance...
Despite the diversions offered at Thorncliff Manor, former spy James, the Earl of Woodford, has one purpose in staying there. He must find an encoded book that exposes a conspiracy within the British aristocracy. And he must do so without revealing his purpose to the clever, tempting Chloe Heartly. The lady has a knack for appearing wherever it is least convenient. In the library. In the salon. And, especially, in his arms...
Somewhere within Thorncliff's labyrinth of rooms lies the journal Chloe desperately seeks. When she realizes the brooding, handsome earl is hunting the same quarry, Chloe enters into an uneasy partnership. But in the face of public danger and enemies hiding in plain sight, both must decide how much they're willing to risk to solve the mysteries of the heart.
Also by this author: A Most Unlikely Duke
The events of The Earl’s Complete Surrender, the second installment of author Sophie Barnes’ Secrets at Thorncliff Manor series, run parallel to those of the first book, Lady Sarah’s Sinful Desires. Even though the stories flow seamlessly together, each can easily be read, and enjoyed, separately. All these adventures and escapades occurring together at Thorncliff Manor really add depth to the world Ms. Barnes has created, including truly fleshed out secondary characters.
The widowed Chloe, Lady Newbury is using her time with her family during their stay at Thorncliff Manor to search for a long lost journal which could lead to the resolution of a family mystery. Unbeknownst to Chloe, James, the Earl of Woodford is searching for the same book, at the request of the King and for his own personal reasons. Having been burned by the hateful actions of her late scoundrel of a husband, Chloe is confused by the rush of attraction and fascination she develops during her initial encounters with the reserved Woodford.
As a bookish man with total recall memory who suffered a traumatic childhood event, Woodford is very much a loner. His talents and interests make his career as a spy an excellent choice. Other than his former guardian, Woodford has no close confidants, so his immediate connection with Chloe confounds him. Eventually Woodford and Chloe discover they are working toward the same goal and decide to join forces. Along the way, they resist the temptation to explore what is obviously a strong mutual pull. A couple of unguarded moments leave them both questioning their commitment to being alone.
The pacing of this novel was a little uneven, dragging at the beginning and then ending in a flurry of activity. The mystery of the journal (definitely more its contents than its location) was overall satisfying, with twists and intrigue aplenty. Woodford and Chloe worked well together, with him respecting her mind and value rather than brushing her off or pulling a macho overprotective act. Their romantic relationship ran hot and cold, or rather warm and cold as there was a decided lack of “heat” in this book. There was attraction, a few stolen kisses and lots of back and forth over whether or not they wanted to pursue anything. Once Chloe and Woodford gave into their feelings, the scene tastefully ‘faded to black.’
Author Sophie Barnes adds to her clever interconnected Thorncliff Manor world with a tale of two people planning to spend their futures alone until they surrender to the powerful pull of partnership and love.
Excerpt from The Earl’s Complete Surrender
Chloe considered telling her sister that there was such a thing as knowing too much, but she bit back the rejoinder and kept silent instead, unwilling to take their conversation in that particular direction.
“In all likelihood you’ll be right and my interest in whoever he is will prove pointless.” Fiona said as they passed a row of elm trees. Like a curtain pushed aside, they gave way to an impressive view of Thorncliff, the towering walls dwarfing anyone standing before them and likening them to ants. “Come to think of it, he did seem rather dull—as if it made no difference to him that he was about to arrive at the most fantastic estate in England. He should have been staring out of the window of that carriage with keen enthusiasm. Most young gentlemen would do so, but he did not.”
“No,” Chloe agreed as they turned onto the driveway that would take them straight up to the front door. “Perhaps coming here disagrees with him.”
“I can’t imagine why,” Fiona said. “It’s the most fascinating place in the world!”
“You say so only because you have not traveled the world.”
“Perhaps that’s our answer,” Fiona suggested. “Perhaps the man we saw, whoever he may be, has traveled to so many fine places that Thorncliff fails to entice.”
“Or maybe he’s just not the adventurous sort,” Chloe offered. “He may simply enjoy reading a good book, in which case he has no need of coming here at all and probably considers Thorncliff a complete waste of time.”
The words brought Fiona to an immediate halt. “Do you find it a complete waste of time, Chloe?”
A rush of emotion swept through Chloe. It almost felt as if an ebbing tide was tugging at her belly. “Of course not. Why on earth would you think such a thing when I’ve already told you how happy I am to be spending more time with you and the rest of the family?”
A puff of air escaped Fiona in the form of a sigh. “Perhaps you wanted to be kind and spare my feelings?”
Taking her sister by the hand, Chloe held on fast as she gazed into her troubled young eyes. “No. I would never be dishonest with you.”
“Are you certain? Because I am well aware of your fondness for reading as well as your lack of enthusiasm for socializing at the moment. Are you sure you wouldn’t have rather stayed at home with your books?”
Closing her eyes, Chloe struggled to ease the nerves that threatened to send her heart racing. “No. I would not. The Thorncliff library is vast. I mean to explore it during my stay here. As for socializing . . . I’ve just spent a year in mourning, Fiona. I need time to readjust.”
“I’m sorry,” Fiona said, biting her lip. “I just wish that I could do more to make you happy.”
“I am happy,” Chloe assured her. At the very least, she was free now, and that was pretty much the same thing. “Come, let’s find out who Lord Hainsworth’s companion is so we can put your curiosity to rest.”
About Author Sophie Barnes
Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parsons. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.