I suppose I could have enjoyed this book a bit if I had been able to take seriously the idea of the heroine as a spy. Unfortunately, it never rang true for me, and I couldn't suspend my disbelief, no matter how willing. This was a significant impediment to enjoying the book because Brockway spends a lot of time spinning out the intricacies of innumerable intrigues that never seem to matter or go anywhere - they just make the plot *seem* complicated and sacrifice depth of feeling and meaning where it's most needed: the romance between Charlotte Nash and Andrew Ross. As for the brilliant super spy plan - its too tedious and silly to detail here. Suffice it to say it involves our intrepid heroine hobnobbing with a spy prostitute, putting on the typical, seemingly inevitable Scarlet Pimpernel show, recovering a recriminating stolen letter and, last but not least, prostitution for God and Country - should I be surprised? Because if Charlotte does not become the mistress of a Comte St. Lyon who holds the letter ransom, millions of innocent men, women, and children will die and Britain will be overrun with evil Frenchmen. The straw that broke my back was a well timed letter from Charlotte's sister Kate going on and on about just that. She doesn't suggest Charlotte should do it for Britain in so many words (she doesn't know what Charlotte is contemplating, after all), but the transparency of this letter's guilt trip is rivaled only by a feed the hungry commercial as Kate bewails the suffering of innocents and wishes she could do something. Heretofore Charlotte has been having second thoughts, but this saccharine letter suitably stiffens her resolve. She can "do something" and proceeds with her much vaunted martyrdom. I can't tell you how frustrating this bit of authorial manipulation was. And I'm supposed to believe that the heroine is intelligent and practical. She was kind of interesting as a hoydenish flirt always skirting scandal. But I ask you, can a woman be a spy without being a prostitute? Any potential Charlotte had for being a credible spy was curtailed by this ridiculous plot.
Besides the spy element, My Surrender is best summed up by the words of one of its characters: "I don't know what Dand is thinking." Ditto. I certainly never caught on to Dand's character. This left a crucial, jarring gap in this last installment of the Rose Hunter's Trilogy. I can only suppose the author left him such a mystery because she wanted to create a red herring and lead the reader to suspect he might have been the bad guy - which is an interesting tactic and a daring attempt at something unconventional (if that's even what Brockway was about, because I'm honestly at a loss here, and within the confines of the romance genre such a possibility doesn't really make sense... does it???) But for those who could spot the evil mastermind a mile away, the attempt was wasted. Even when it comes time for the bad guy's unmasking and long-winded monologing, we're never afforded enough of an insight into Dand's thoughts. My Surrender is therefore all Charlotte's story, and I frankly wasn't interested in her agonized efforts to force herself into a sacrifice she really doesn't want to make, nor in the pretense of Dand and Charlotte conspiring to ruin her reputation in order to hook her up with St. Lyon. This last became the focus of the book, so for a long while I was very bored.
My Surrender did manage to pick up about halfway through, once the two had dispensed with the charade of Dand as Charlotte's lover, and then the sparks really did fly between Charlotte and Dand. I kept turning the pages, if only because I was desperate for some coherency that would resolve the convoluted madness of so many plot threads, mysteries, and spy nonsense. When the denouement and explanations came, however, I was disappointed. I felt like Brockway had created such a beautiful romance of later day knights pledging themselves fervently to their cause, each other, and the women they loved, only to tear it down and trample it underfoot as a lie none of them had ever taken seriously in the first place. This twist would have been fine if it had been in any way addressed or fleshed out, but I was ushered into a happily ever after epilogue before I knew what hit me. I ended this series dismayed and disheartened.