This is the third of a quartet of Georgian romances involving members or friends of the Rothwell family, the head of which is the Marquis of Easterbrook. It is set in the late 1820's.
The quartet consists of
1) "The Rules of Seduction
2) "Lessons of Desire
3) This book, "Secrets of Surrender"
4) "The Sins of Lord Easterbrook
In the first book of the series, Lord Hayden Rothwell discovered that his friend, the banker Benjamin Longworth, and Benjamin's brother Timothy, had embezzled large sums of money from the customers of the bank. Because Benjamin had saved Lord Hayden from a horrible death at the hands of the Turks while they were serving together in the war of Greek independence, the wealthy Lord Hayden rescues the bank by reimbursing the defrauded customers, thereby quite literally saving Timothy's neck. (He also marries the Longworth brothers' cousin Alexia, who is the heroine of the first book.)
But although Lord Hayden mitigates the harm done by the Longworth brothers' theft, he cannot entirely remove it. To find out what ultimately happens to Benjamin Longworth you have to read first "The Rules of Seduction" and then this book: Timothy Longworth has fled abroad from those of his victims who are still seeking revenge, leaving his two sisters, Roselyn (Rose) and Irene in a very vulnerable position.
At the start of this book, Rose has made a catastrophic mistake: she agreed to become the mistress of Lord Norbury, believing that he loved her, when in fact he is one of her brothers' victims and he has seduced her as an act of revenge. Norbury stages a scandalous scene at a house party, designed to completely destroy Rose's reputation. She is partly spared only because the one man at the party who is not, in 19th century terms, a gentleman is the one man who acts like one.
Kyle Bradwell, son of a coal miner who has become an architect and builder through the patronage of Lord Norbury's father, is himself one of Benjamin and Timothy Longworth's victims. He has admired the beautiful Rose Longworth from afar, thinking "she is not for the likes of you, boy." But he also recognises that she too is one of her brothers' victims and rescues her.
At that stage, his intention was merely to rescue Rose from a horrible scene, but then the most unlikely matchmaker takes a hand ...
I refer to these books as Georgian romances rather than regency ones for two reasons:
(i) they are set after the Prince Regent had ascended to the throne as George IV
(ii) they are more "modern" in tone and plot than the style associated with the term "regency romance."
In particular these books are rather less focussed on the intricate style of the "ton" as high society in London was known in the late 18th and early 19th century and more on the emotional development of the relationship between the main romantic protagonists. And they contain rather more sex than is normal for the regency romance genre.
Amazon reviewers have criticised one or two recent novels by Stephanie Laurens, a prolific writer of romances set a decade or so before this book, for containing too much sex for their taste. If you are one of the readers who agreed with this criticism of "Bastion Club" novels such as "The Lady Chosen (Bastion Club)
" you will probably think the same problem applies to "The Rules of Seduction." By the same token, if you like the Bastion Club or Bar Cynster series there is a good chance that you will like this book.
Although this is a modern romance set in the 1820s rather than a historical romance, it is reasonably entertaining and well crafted. The complex plot is extremely implausible - and would the Christian name "Kyle" really be given to the son of a coal miner born at the end of the 18th century? - but it was possible to suspend disbelief and enjoy the book.