Book Review: Surrender to You by Shawntelle Madison

This series hooked me with the BDSM theme and the fact that the story does not in any way present it as anything shameful. The second book continues that trend with conflict that has nothing to do with what the characters like in the bedroom and everything to do with the fact that they have emotional trust issues.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A concierge and a hotel mogul meet when convenient for sex, ignoring the fact that they have stronger feelings they’re too scared to pursue. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Time and Distance
Tomas and Carlie have known each other for years, ever since Carlie and her friends were young and struggling to make ends meet. Their relationship was intense and they cared for each other, but a family emergency and miscommunication took Tomas away from Carlie, leaving her feel abandoned and causing her to shut off all emotions towards him, other than those that dictated they get together when they’re in the same area to let off some sexual steam.

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Girl’s Gotta Hustle
After running her concierge business in the UK, Carlie has come back to the states temporarily to see her old friends. At the same time, Tomas is in the area overseeing a deal on a new hotel. Since Carlie needs money, she takes a temp job as a concierge for that same hotel, determined to stay away from Tomas despite the fact that he’s always around.

Less Romance, More Personal Drama
This book read differently for me, and I don’t know if that’s because it was the book or because of the mental space I was in when reading it. I really enjoyed it, but the romance didn’t seem to be the story’s priority. I didn’t always feel like I was reading a romance novel.

Until the end, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of interaction between Carlie and Tomas. They start the book out by hooking up, and then a lot of the narrative is getting to know them through their differing points of view and seeing how they feel about the other. Carlie is definitely walled off emotionally, and she has this thing about not wanting to owe Tomas anything. Tomas on the other hand, is in love with Carlie and wants to give her things with no strings attached.

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There’s also a lot of plot surrounding Carlie getting to know her birth mother and dealing with Celiac Disease. Gluten intolerance isn’t something you see every day in romance novels, but I thought the whole subject was well done and fit into the story rather well.

The Romance Factor
For the most part, this felt like a story about Carlie that Tomas just happened to play a role in. But the most romance showed when we saw the story through Tomas’ point of view, where we catch glimpses of how much he truly cares for her and how he regrets having left her behind all those years ago. He also does so many nice things for her, like finding out she’s gluten intolerant on the sly and making sure she’s well fed and cared for by having her meals delivered to her. 3/5

The Steam Factor
The sexy times were intense and hot, but they weren’t as frequent as I was expecting, partially because Carlie spends a lot of time not wanting to be that close to Tomas in order to guard her feelings. However, it should be noted that the BDSM vibe is still there, as Tomas is definitely dominant over Carlie when they get together. Also, there’s a hidden floor in his new hotel that indulges special guests in BDSM play. Which seems odd, but was presented as completely normal in the course of the story. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Though it started out a little slow, I eventually got hooked into Carlie’s story and kind of fell in love with Tomas. There are some really sad parts to the story, so I ran the whole range of emotions while reading it. Love the sex positivity in this world and the history of the main characters that unfolds within the story.

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