Recently, I was surfing around looking for a Lisa Kleypas title to read. I wanted a stand alone because frankly, sometimes series are just tiresome. And they mean long term commitment. I plan to start Kleypas Hathaway series very soon, but I wanted a novel that was devastatingly good the way Kleypas novels always are, and just a stand alone. So I picked up Stranger in my Arms. Here are my thoughts.
Summary from Goodreads
Mass Market Paperback, 360 pages
Published July 1998
With these words, Lara's life is turned upside down. Her unhappy, loveless marriage had ended when the Earl of Hawksworth was lost at sea. But now a man stands before her, virile and powerful, who says he is her missing husband, revealing secrets that only he would know. While this dark-eyed stranger closely resembles the earl, he is as attentive and loving as Hunter was cruel and cold, promising to make Lara his wife once again in every way. With every beat of her heart, she aches to believe that this remarkable man is who he claims to be. But is he truly the rake returned and reformed . . . or is Lara being seduced by a cunning imposter?
Well, life doesn't always give you what you want. This novel is Lisa Kleypas, who always makes me ache in this special way while also reminding me of how wonderful a thing love really is. And Stranger in my Arms, while good, wasn't quite what I expected from Kleypas. Perhaps because it's an older one of her books? I'm going with that.
The novel is really well written, and the characters are well developed. This is Lisa Kleypas after all. I totally love the premise of the long absent and disinterested husband returning to his wife suddenly very much in love with her. Why these absurd premises enthral me so, I'll never know. But they're fun and romantic and I guess that's enough for me. Anyway, I digress. Lara was perhaps a bit of a overkill as the sheltered, pure heroine who knows nothing of love making or men or anything beyond what her sheltered upbringing might have exposed her to. Her theme song could be "I am Sixteen, Going on Seventeen" from The Sound of Music. I mean, so she married a man completely wrong for her and a selfish lover to boot, who hurt her, but really when Hunter came back and promised her things would be different, she was a tad too resistant to going to bed with him again. I mean, the poor man had to practically beg. I am totally sympathetic to why she thought it was so awful, but you'd think after all the efforts he made to seduce her, efforts she enjoyed, she would have bent a little. Just a wee little.
Hunter however, I found far more likable. I thought he was a perfect gentleman. Yes, it was obvious he had a dangerous edge to him, and his identity was not certain...was he, or was he not the real earl of Hawksworth? I didn't care. The Hunter that came back to Lara was nothing but devoted, patient and honourable. He always did the right thing, and it was clear from the beginning that he was very much in love with Lara. The more I heard about the old Hunter, the more I disliked him and the gladder I was that the Hunter I was reading about was not that man anymore.
There is, as I have hinted, a bit of a mystery about Hunter's identity. Kleypas does clear it up by the novel's end, but I was unhappy with how that whole part of the story went down. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I thought Lara's actions were a betrayal of what her and Hunter had and just plain self righteousness on her part. I felt she could have handled the situation far better if she had just confronted Hunter about it all. That was my only real beef with the book. Otherwise, the story is entertaining, the pacing is pretty spot on and we get a HEA.
An enjoyable read.
3.5 glittering stars