Total Surrender
by Cheryl Holt, historical (2002)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-97841-3


After finishing Total Surrender, Cheryl Holt's latest erotic historical romance, I rack my brain hard, trying to remember an erotic romance story featuring genuinely happy people. I can't think of any. Like every other entry into the erotic historical subgenre, Total Surrender stars two characters whose attitude towards sex is bewilderingly neurotic, and the hero is so whiny that he redefines the term "high maintenance".

I guess, as we readers are whipped into a sexual frenzy by these authors' florid, bulbous prose, we are also supposed to remember that hot sex is only for screwed-up bozos. Watch where your hand is going, ma'am, remember, sex is baaaaad.

Sarah Campton does show promise of being a brainy one. Her brother Hugh has lost everything in a gamble gone awry, and he expects his sister to marry someone wealthy. However, Sarah is just determined to have one shot of Cinderella-like fun before she lives a life of poverty. Unfortunately, she chooses to attend a party in a house filled with orgy-gorgy nymphomaniacs.

While stripping to bathe, she accidentally opens a peephole, and the pervert next door, our hero Michael Stevens, get a free show of our heroine rubbing herself while bathing. He charges in, they do an ah-ah-ah-wet-wet-wet heavy petting thing until she conks him hard in the head.

She won't leave, he won't go, and so it's a merry-go-round. Commence the consummation, and then we have the compromise thing. He isn't happy to be trapped, and the letters M-I-S-U-N-D-E-R-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G come crashing down from the sky to kill us all.

But what gets to me the most are the two whiny brats. Michael is the worst. Shut up, you whiny bitch, oh just shut up on that whining. Almost all the sex scenes here are between he and some tramps at the party, and every one is the same - he gets hot, he screws her, and then he spends at least one page telling me how disgusting and sordid everything is. Yeah, that gets old really fast after the tenth time, loser, so either put out or shut up. The author is fond of the phrase "limp cock" or its variation for some reason, and that phrase comes up after every sordid scene, so much so that "limp cock" becomes right synonymous with Michael.

Sarah, when she's not taking care of everybody who don't even appreciate her, is leading Michael on and once she gets her jollies, goes holy-moly ee-ee-ee. In the end, I am fed up with both her and her whiny, high-maintenance , and insecure man. Sex is never this grating on my nerves. The many sordid love scenes are pretty much the antics of the orgy-gorgy loonies in the house, but Ms Holt paint these scenes in a degrading manner, as if she wants me to be disgusted as well as thrilled at the same time. I can't do that, I'm afraid. When an author goes on to detail a graphic gang-bang scene while telling me how disgusting that is, it doesn't feel right. Am I supposed to be aroused or nauseated?

In the end, the whole whine-fest and martyr-dancing exhaust me completely. I finish this book feeling utterly drained. This book, like too many gloom-doom "erotic historical romances" filled with weirdos having sex to release the neuroses pent up in their heaving crotches (pump! - I hate my Daddy! - pump! - Momma, you bitch! - pump! - slut! - pump! - whore! - pumppumppumppump - bitchbitchbitch slutslutslutslutslut, et cetera), only succeeds in portraying what a sad sport sex is. This book has voyeurism, a little lesbianism, group sex, fellatio, and other kinky fun, but everything is painted in a shade of a disapproving prude. You know you will feel bad in the morning if you kiss that hairy ugly thing. They may as well label the act of copulation as "For Screwed-Ups Only" and be done with it.

Rating: 54


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