Harlow by Karyn Rae
Series: Terms of Surrender #1
Published by Karyn Rae Publishing on June 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Terms of Surrender is a story about when coming of age arrives late.
On Harlow Ausby’s fortieth birthday, she still feels as out of place in polished Charleston as the moon in a midday sky. From her strawberry-red hair to the matching birthmark that seems to swallow her left leg, Harlow’s uncommon looks have always made her feel less than worthy of the image-conscious Ausby name. As her often cruel and critical mother, Vivian, lies dying in a hospital bed, Harlow reexamines the choices—or lack thereof—that have brought her to a crossroads in her life. She is freshly divorced from a social climber she never loved, nursing a newly empty nest, and shocked to run into the love of her life—a man whose heart she broke twenty years earlier—and his wife, her former best friend.
What she doesn’t realize is that everything is about to change.Over the course of one monumental day, a secret as old as Harlow surfaces. Moving from the present to the past and then back again, Harlow’s story explores rich female friendships, deep rifts between mothers and daughters, and simmering under-the-surface social scandal.
Terms of Surrender is a novel that women will want to discover, because it’s a story they may already know. They just haven’t read it yet.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
I was drawn to Harlow’s book by the premise of a second chance romance that takes place in sync with the heroine hitting 40. It’s a time when possibilities and fun times are all there to be embraced. Add to the mix a marriage breakup and the story had the scope for a plethora of scenarios. Harlow’s story was a reflection on discovering the truths surrounding her past and appreciating the love and friendship that had endured.
The story begins in the present with Harlow visiting her mother in a hospital. During her visit she catches up with an old estranged friend and from that moment on her life as she has known it starts to slowly unravel. At this point, I felt I was being eased into the story, a mystery was building and my interest was spiked. Then the tense is switched to the past to before Harlow married her now ex husband Patrick.
Patrick is a nasty piece of work and I didn’t enjoy reading about him at all. Harlow’s mother, Vivian, didn’t win me over either with her pushing for Harlow to marry Patrick. Vivian’s carer, however, was one of the shining lights in Terms of Surrender. Masterfully manipulating in the background, she brought hope into Harlow’s sad circumstances. For a girl born into a fortunate life, her life was far from rosy.
Readers with a familiarity with Southern etiquette and expectations may experience a different take then I did reading Harlow’s story. With little to no understanding of protocol other than snippets from previous books and my reading friend’s personal stories, the Southern angle didn’t resonate with me. Whether this had an impact on my connection with the overall story or not I am undecided.
Jade, her first love, threw me with his name. I have never encountered a male called Jade before and I found it hard to read him as being masculine. He was every bit a great guy and likable character, I just needed to not hear him being called Jade, lol. The other character’s name that I stumbled over was Savannah when she was referred to as Van. It was clear it was the same person but it caught me off guard as she was referred to as both throughout the story.
My disconnection occurred through the past taking up two-thirds of the book. I hung in there, reading because I was eager to return to the present and find out what happened. I succumbed to temptation to skim occasionally in my haste to get past the backstory. By the time I reached the angle of the story the hungering for my enthusiasm had faded. My reward was in discovering some of my hunches were correct along with the revelations I hadn’t expected. The secondary characters have appeal and I am sure their stories will be welcomed by readers who enjoyed Harlow.
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