REVIEW: Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day
Dear Ms. Day:
I’ve always thought that your plots fit my expectations of erotic romance the best. Yours feature experienced men and experienced women finding emotional love to walk in concert with their physical expression. Unfortunately, my first experience with your work after the highly recommended Bad Boys Ahoy, wasn’t very positive. I hadn’t planned to read this book, but bookseller friend gave me her ARC and Jay loved it. So did Sybil. On the one hand, it was much better than Ask For It. On the other hand, I still had problem connecting to the characters.
Gerard Faulkner, Marquess of Grayson, needs a wife as he is tired of the pressure to marry. The one woman he loves and wanted to marry, married someone else. Gerard blames his mother for this and chooses the most inappropriate woman: the scandalous widow, Pel. Lady Isabel Pelham doesn’t need to marry but wants an easy reason to not pursue permanency in her liasons. Gerard convinces Pel that their friendship would be a promising basis for the marriage and that it would be mutually beneficial.
Pel and Gerard marry and never once have sex. They are not attracted to one another. They are friends. Gerard hears terrible news about his true love and leaves for four years. Upon his return, Gerard is instantly attracted to Pel and wants to have a marriage in truth. Pel, however, isn’t quite so sure. She doubts that Gerard would be faithful and she does not want to be hurt again. She had loved her husband quite a bit and was devastated when she found out not only was he unfaithful but the degree of his infidelity.
Pel is my favorite character in the book. She really suffered emotionally at the hands of her husband and now that he is dead, he serves as a reminder of the danger of allowing one to lose yourself in one person, particularly when that one person is selfish and unkind. She works hard at making a good life for herself and sometimes that means snubbing her nose at society. Being the daughter of a duke and a wealthy widow helps.
Gerard I wanted to like but the contrivance of his turnabout was hard for me to overcome. Gerard’s instant desire to kindle a new type of relationship with Pel and Pel’s inability to resist Gerard (when she previously had no desire for him) nagged at me. There was no plausible explanation to give as to why Gerard wanted the change. There were other contrivances such as Gerard being caught in compromising positions more than once and leaving Pel to feel used and angry.
The sex scenes are very hot but many of them were angry and at some points punishing. It is not as if there isn’t a place for angry sex on the stairs ala the scene in A History of Violence but the regularity of the emotionally dissatisfying couplings lent itself toward a more depressing rather than romantic read. The contrivances and the sex based relationship led to a lack of connection to the romance. C.