Release Date: November 4, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Julie Keaton had everything—she had a new career in a new city and, more importantly, a bright future with fiance, Jason Sherman. That is, until the day she discovered that he had been killed in Afghanistan. In one moment, her life changed, as everything she’d hoped for died along with him.
Years later and Julie still feels the aftershocks of Jason’s death. She is no longer the same adventurous, open girl; now she wears armor around her heart in order to protect the most important thing in her life—her son.
But when Julie meets the mysterious Neal, she starts to feel the smallest flicker of hope, as what began as a fling quickly becomes something more. Neal is the first man since Jason’s death to break down her armor and make her believe again. But when she discovers the secret he’s been keeping, she has to ask herself: can she surrender to a future with Neal or will Jason’s death forever tie her to the past?
SURRENDER by June Gray is technically the third novel in the series, it says Disarm 8 in Goodreads but that's because the first book was previously released as a serial then Berkley did an omnibus. I want to clarify that in case some of you might look up the series and get discouraged when you see the series number. SURRENDER is the third full length novel but if you're unsure, you can always do the serial first, try JGray's writing and see if it's to your liking.
Now that that's out of the way, SURRENDER is not a continuation of the previous two books that starred Elise & Henry, Disarm and Arrest. SURRENDER is a whole new story starring Julie Keaton, the baby momma of Elise's brother, Jason, and Henry's bestfriend who died in Afghanistan 5 years ago. Julie has been married and divorced since and raising her son with Jason has been her sole purpose with hardly any room for her dreams and desires. Until she met Neal at Elise and Henry's wedding and her life has never been the same.
SURRENDER only has two pace, fast and faster, and the tone seesawing between intense and consuming with all the varying shades in between. I have to detach myself from personal opinion so I can put myself in Julie's shoes and appreciate her rather reckless behavior. On one had, I understand Julie's loneliness which made Neal such an enticing escape, handsome, rich, and charming. On the other Julie can be seen as desperate which she confirmed on a couple scenes and if not for the guarantee of HEA and Neal being a good guy, my reaction would be wary and skeptical of how their relationship started. I mean I wouldn't be surprised if the opposite happened and Julie ends up with a broken heart. Sure hooking up at your friend's wedding can be deemed as fun, YOLO! Getting whisked off to Vegas for two days is even funner, excusable even, yet Julie and Neal's love story felt too insta-love IMO and I just don't do insta-love.
As for Neal, he's alright but not as compelling a character as Henry was. He also did this thing where he kept something important from Julie which is a little too convenient for my taste but heck, anything can happen right? Anyway, Neal's a really good guy, very straightforward, sincere and fell for Julie as fast and hard as she did for him. Can't ask for more on that!
Despite my subjective qualms about SURRENDER, I have to remind myself that every love story is unique and beautiful in it's own way whether or not I agree with the hows. There's beauty in Julie's perseverance, dedication to motherhood and to perserving Jason's memory. I have to admire her daring attitude, getting out of her comfort zone, putting herself on the line which eventually led her to Love's path and Neal's arms. I guess when it's for you, it's for YOU and sometimes it comes like a hurricane, leveling everything in its path to make way for a rebuild and that's exactly what happened to Julie.
SURRENDER wasn't as engrossing as the previous two novels but its just as intense and real as Henry and Elise's love story. It's as engaging and stirring, I'm just not sure if it aroused the intended emotions as far as I'm concerned but it's affecting just the same. Trust on JGray to deliver yet another romance that runs deep with powerful undercurrents. Ignore my critiques because maybe I'm just being a pill subconsciously, and get SURRENDER, you can get away reading it as stand-alone so win-win right?