March 27, 2017
Well, this name is unfortunate.
Picking the right name for a fictional character is soooo important. It can set just the right
tone or it can be an irritating distraction to an otherwise good book. For instance, let's take a look at the name Sarisa. What is that a form of? Is it just another way of saying Sara? If so, why not just name her Sara. Is it some kind of attempt at ethnicity? I looked up female names from India, couldn't find that particular one, I did find two which were close: Sarasa (Swan) and Sarasi (lake), but no Sarisa. I don't know, maybe I'm nit-picking, but every time I read the name in the book all I could hear was Robin Williams introducing the Great Starina in The Birdcage. I know, I know, they are not the same thing, but a mind is a terrible thing and every time I read Sarisa I heard Starina. But then, that's just me - I'm sure the author had no idea what the name Sarisa was going to do to my mind. Which is why plain names are sometimes the best way to go.
Surrender to the Marquess by Louise Allen is the third Herriard family story. This story is about Lady Sarisa (groan), who is the widow of Dr. Michael Harcourt. She has a issue with the way men solve their problems by fighting duels. The reason she is a widow is because her husband decided to defend her honor by issuing a challenge to his best friend. It just so happens that the husband and his best friend had been drinking, and the best friend said some things about Sarisa (sign) which Harcourt took issue with. But in the end the Doctor lost his life and the friend had to leave England. Besides having a problem with the way men defend their honor, she also has a controlling father and an over-protective brother. In order to find some peace from all the male testosterone floating in the air, she has sit up a little shop in a little village. She caters mainly to women. She sells art supplies, tea and occasional artsy lessons. Women come to her place to be - comfortable. Then one day he appears. Yes, our hero shows up.
Lucien Avery, the Marquess of Cannock, has come to Sandbay to help his sister Marguerite. He is incognito as Mr. Dunton and he shows up at Sarisa's little shop because he's hoping she can help his sister recover from - something. When the story begins we don't know what that something is, we just know that Marguerite is suffering from something physical and mental. It isn't long before Sarisa discovers Marguerite's problem and starts to help her. And, that leads to other concerns. Sarisa/Sara is doing exactly what Lucien wants, except there is a problem. Lucien also wants Sarisa/Sara in his bed, but Sarisa/Sara points out to him that she cannot be his mistress because she is Marguerite's friend/helper and it just wouldn't be ethical. He grudgingly agrees. Then Marguerite runs away with her lover and the only possible solution in a romance novel is for the hero, Lucien and the heroine, Sarisa/Sara to give chase. This is also when the "conflict" of how men solve their problems arise. Of course Lucien wants to challenge the young man who has run away with his sister, but he also knows how Sarisa/Sara feels about that.
Then we are presented with a convoluted small twist in the story because they find the runaways and Sarisa/Sara has a brilliant idea of the four of them proceeding to her parents’ house to a party. They are supposed to pretend that they encountered each other on the road, also pretend that at the party Marguerite and her lover will pretend to fall in love, become engaged and Marguerite's reputation will be saved. Well, maybe that plan would have work, if not for Sarisa/Sara's overprotective brother. You see, he had visited his sister in little old Sandbay only to find that Sarisa/Sara had disappeared in a carriage with a man. Well, to say that her brother’s was a tad bit upset is an understatement. If fact he and his fists create quite a scene when he eventually meets Lucien – outside – at his parents’ house – in front of everyone. This leads to more questions about honor and men. Once those questions are solved, more honor/trust/misunderstanding issue arise and are just as quickly dispensed with. I think I could have done without so many honor-trust issues - it became a little repetitive.
Overall, this was a good book. It isn't a book that will stay with me like some others I've read, but it’s good enough to pass a relaxing hour or two with. And people, stick with plain names.
Time/Place: Regency England road trip - sort of