The Perfect Stranger Mass Market Paperback – Jun 6 2006
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“For fabulous Regency flavor, witty and addictive, you can’t go past Anne Gracie.”—Stephanie Laurens, New York Times bestselling author
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Top Customer Reviews
entertaining and well-written novel
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Faith Merridew thought that she had found her soul-mate and love of her life when she met talented violinist, Felix Vladimir Rimavska and so eloped with the man to France in spite of her very proper upbringing. Unfortunately for Faith. she discovers too late that Felix had played her false, as he was already married and had actually courted and run off with her in order to win a bet. Her pride and good name in tatters, Faith leaves the cad and tries to return to England and her family. But it is a rather dangerous thing for a young, beautiful woman to travel alone with no escort and little money, and Faith soon finds herself destitute and in very dire straits indeed. And that's when Faith's luck suddenly changes for the better. Rescued from a gang of louts by Nicholas Blacklock (a veteran of the Peninsula Wars), Nicholas offers to rescue Faith's reputation by marrying her. Nicholas assures Faith that it will be a marriage of convenience, and has plans to send her back to England to live with his mother. But Faith has no intention of going quietly back to England. She senses that Nicholas is on a grave mission, and she's determined to prove her worth to him by sticking it out at his side. And already halfway in love with him, she's determined to win his love and approval as well....
There is much to recommend about "The Perfect Stranger" -- like how the author allows for Faith's self assurance to grow with each succeeding chapter, and how she showcases the love blossoms between the Faith and Nicholas (even though Nicholas refuses to admit his feelings for his wife for much of the book). In "The Perfect Stranger," Annie Gracie has written a novel about how two emotionally scarred people find each other and so discover a love they had quite given up on ever finding. And this makes for some rather poignant and satisfying reading. However, while the book could be characterised as an "adventure" romance novel, not very much happens adventure-wise -- there are no spies or murderers, etc for Nicholas to hunt or the group to run away from, nor are Nicholas and his friends on a revenge mission either. So that in spite of its on-the-road motif, "The Perfect Stranger" is essentially a quiet romance novel about the blossoming love. All in all, "The Perfect Stranger" was a very satisfying, romantic and moving love story, well worth the cover price, and its 5 star rating.
However, finally (for the first half of the book annoyed me - I nearly put it aside unfinished) the second half of the story started to pick up pace with the introduction of a gypsy (or perhaps Basque) character and her mysterious grandmother. At first I got even more annoyed because the story took on some rather fey and "magical" elements - something else that usually is a turn-off for me.
It was the last couple of chapters that lifted this book from 2 to 3 stars. The credulous but extremely emotional solution to the hero's problems (at last revealed) were movingly portrayed and even brought a tear to my eye.
I hope that if Anne Gracie is continuing the Merridew saga that she gets re-energised; otherwise, I think it is best left alone and she moves on to something else. As always, she writes extremely well but I did not think this story was up to the standards of the first two in the series.
This is essentially a marriage of convience/ road romance with a fresh twist. I appreciated that we were spared all the usual London Season hoop-la. Interesting secondary characters and great sexual tension makes this an outstanding read.
"The Perfect Stranger" focuses on Faith Merridew, twin sister of Hope, whose life at the outset of the book is a complete disaster. She has been tricked by a violinist into a sham marriage and has escaped him, only to find herself a social outcast, sleeping on the beach and in danger from various men. When chased by some men bent on rape she finds herself rescued by Nicholas Blacklock, a former soldier. All this happens right at the beginning of the book and it's a great and lively start to what becomes an engaging tale. Nick looks after Faith and soon offers her marriage to help her socially and to quieten his mother who has been trying to get him to marry for years. However Faith, once she feels a little more in control of her life, isn't willing to just wave goodbye to Nicholas as he journeys to Spain and Portugal on a mystery personal mission - she decides to travel along with him, hoping to turn their marriage into one more than name only.
Faith is a feisty heroine, a woman who is able to overcome incredible challenges - perhaps she's even too good to be true. Nicholas is the traditional tall dark and handsome but troubled hero that Faith wants to understand and help. The reader knows all along that there's something more going on in Nick's life - although most of the point of view of the story is Faith's we also occasionally dip into Nick's view. We also learn a little more about Nick's two companions, including the misogynistic Scotsman Mac, and there is even a side romance involving one of these characters.
The enjoyment in this story is that of the way in which Nick and Faith come to know each other and particularly in the way Faith manages to overcome her past (not particularly dwelt on in the story, we learn more of this in Prudence's story, "The Perfect Rake") and learn to be a suitable wife for a soldier. Of course there's a shock in this story which is trailed from fairly early on, and its resolution in some ways was slightly unsatisfying for me, but overall it was a very enjoyable story with a very different setting than usual - no balls, country houses and duels in this story, instead we read of travelling by foot and horse through France to Portugal with our characters sleeping on beaches and in open ground, suffering injuries and getting sunburned.
This is a very different story than Anne Gracie's other "Perfect" series to date, mainly in terms of the setting. The love story is sweet and not beset by the usually obligatory Big Misunderstanding or mutual hatred - our characters have other things going on to take their attention and that makes for a slightly different, but nonetheless enjoyable, read.
Nicholas Blacklock and his companions are traveling to the various battle sights where they'd lost friends. His years as a soldier have hardened him. He prefers sleeping outdoors to the comfort of a bed, which is the only reason that he was on the beach the night Faith was attacked. Nick harbors a secret that has him determined to keep Faith at a distance.
Faith's own parents had eloped and they'd been so happy. When Felix swept her off her feet and suggested eloping, Faith believed she was following in her parents footsteps. After learning of his deception returning to her home and siblings is her only acceptable option but as a woman traveling alone she's accosted by unsavory men and treated poorly by everyone else she's encountered. Her would-be rapists would have caught her eventually if Nick hadn't come to her rescue when she stumbled into his campsite. He fought them off and then took care of Faith's injuries and needs. He would have liked to delve more into the reason she's in such horrid condition and alone but one of his debilitating headaches strikes and it's morning before he hears the whole sordid tale. Aware of her precarious position Nick offers her a marriage of convenience. She'll have the protection of his name and he'll send her to stay with his mother while he and his companions continue with their mission. It seems like a simple plan until after the vows are exchanged. Faith takes them to heart - especially the "until death do us part" and thwarts Alex's efforts to send her away.
Readers are going to fall in love with Anne Gracie's THE PERFECT STRANGER. The characters are boldly endearing with larger than life personalities that kept me reading far into the night. I loved how Faith interacts with all the characters mentioned throughout this book but especially admire how she handles Nick's companions, Mac and Stevens. I had a truly wonderful time reading this story and fully intend to read the other books in this series as soon as I get the chance.
Even though THE PERFECT STRANGER is part of a series, it can be read alone. This book is the third one in Ms. Gracie's PERFECT series. Each book depicts the story of one of the Merridew girls, who are all named after virtues. THE PERFECT RAKE,THE PERFECT WALTZ, and THE PERFECT KISS are the other books that make up this series.
Chrissy Dionne (courtesy of Romance Junkies)