Surrender My Heart is the follow up to the 2017 Kindle Scout Winner, Shelter My Heart but it also works as a standalone novel.
The Goodreads blurb:
For decades, Katherine “Kitty” McNally has secretly loved John Henshaw, the man lying shot and unconscious in the hospital bed next to her. Then again, maybe not so secretly. Those closest to her, including her soon-to-be ex-husband, have suspected it for years. Their story ended with a gunshot wound the last time, too. Life seems to have taken her full circle, but only the dead know the secrets she still keeps.
Detective John Henshaw fell in love with his “Kat” the moment she became his geometry tutor in high school. When they graduated, he thought their future was sealed. Wrong. Enter life’s nonstop curveballs. The worst two moments of his life were the two times he lost Kat. After thirty-five years and one failed marriage trying to forget her, he can’t escape the fact that he’s never stopped loving her. Maybe it’s just his ego, but he could swear he sees a spark of love in her eyes every time she looks at him. That’s what keeps him in the New Jersey town that holds his most painful memories. That’s why he accepted his place decades ago as a family friend to the McNally sisters.
As John recovers from his injuries in Kitty’s care, she has one last chance to confront her past and rekindle their love – if John can forgive her once he learns the truth.
Surrender My Heart has all the makings of a good book, including but not limited to romance, mystery, family drama and an immigrant story.
I liked the idea of reading a romance novel from both perspectives, and of getting to know Kitty and John first as teens and then as mature adults. But not knowing John’s thoughts might have made his actions more excusable. As a teenager, he is brash and violent and despite coming from an abusive household and making a promise not to be physically abusive to women, his verbal assaults might be just as scathing. As an adult, he is an alcoholic who teeters on the brink of the law that prohibits drinking and driving and his attitude toward women hasn’t improved. However, I don’t know if the character is to blame for the comments John makes about women, or it’s part of the plot, since several male characters speak about women in a way that suggest they need sensitivity training.
John is supposed to be of Hispanic descent, his mother being one of those who escaped Cuba in the 1970s, yet he acts as though he is ashamed, not proud, of the sacrifices his parents made for him. In the same way, Katherine, or Kat or Kitty, is explosive when describing her mother, summarizing her family life with distaste instead of pride. It is difficult to read about kids talking about their parents the way these two do.
The story flips back and forth through time in cynical waves, and some events are revisited to show the alternate perspective which could have been edited to make the book more compact. However the story is engaging and the mystery made it an intriguing read so I ended up giving it about 3 stars.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.