Book Review | Harlow (Terms of Surrender #1) by Karyn Rae

terms of surrender

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.




4.5 Stars

This was an amazing coming of age/women’s fiction novel that focuses not only on a true love story but also explores the complex relationships of mothers and daughters and best friends.

I fell in love with this author’s writing style! This was a beautifully written story set in the most exclusive area of Charleston. Harlow grew up in a household with a mother that taught her that appearances are everything and outsiders, people from the Off, who aren’t at the top of the Charlestonian social ladder are never good enough. Harlow does not quite fill the mold of the perfect southern daughter and she falls in love with Jade, someone her mother would never approve of because his family is neither from power nor money. The events that unfold to separate these two young lovers is heartbreaking and frustrating!

The story is told from the present to the past and there were so many unexpected events and surprising twists that kept me completely engrossed and riveted to this book. Harlow frustrated me so much!The need to “do the right thing” and to keep up the perfect facade instead of choosing love and happiness was a very difficult pill for me to swallow. I just wanted to scream!

However, this book was also about claiming second chances and this heroine rose to the challenge. It was like she was sleeping for 20 years and now she is finally waking up. It’s never too late to claim not only a second chance at a new life but also a second chance at love. Harlow also taught us that there is more strength in forgiveness even though she had every right to hold grudges.

“There are just some things that you have to surrender to in this life if you want to be worth anything at the end of it.”

This book mad me want to laugh and cry and it just made me FEEL! Jade and Harlow’s love story was so beautiful and powerful that it transcends time and pain and lies and deceit. The story line was so intriguing and layers of secrets that unravel during the course of this book kept me constantly engaged. I highly recommend if you are looking for an emotional coming of age story of love and self discovery!

4.5 Stars
Women’s Fiction/ Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: Very Mild
POV: Heroine

*ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review



The first part of Karyn’s life was spent in the South, and the last fifteen years have played out in the Midwest, but she’s still holding on to a shred of her Southern roots.
What She Loves:
Her family, friends, food- anything covered in cheese, reading, writing, vodka, music- the live variety, sarcasm, a strong curse word, college sports- especially the NCAA tournament (GO Tigers!), running- although doesn’t do it as much as she should, her annual girls trip, Benjamin Franklin, most things considered Southern, sending notes through snail mail, coffee, roller coasters, peace among her kids, the mountains, the ocean, boots- she does not discriminate, home décor that looks wore out and beat to death, and faith in the unknown.




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