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REVIEW: Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day

Dear Ms. Day:

The Stranger I MarriedI’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.

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

6 Comments

  1. Danielle
    Jan 18, 2007 @ 20:24:25

    I happened to like this book. I don’t know there was just something about these characters that made them enjoyable to read and kept my interest. Yes, Pel did suffer at the hands of her husband and her sister-in-law you just wanted to slap in the face.

    Just my honest opinion.

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  2. jmc
    Jan 18, 2007 @ 20:29:29

    Sounds like I liked this book slightly more than you. I would’ve liked less sex and more interaction outside the bedroom. And the ending seemed abrupt and contrived to me. But it was a pretty fast read, and I liked Pel enough to forgive most of that.

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  3. Jane
    Jan 18, 2007 @ 20:31:35

    I did like Pel, alot. I guess I felt that Gerard’s seeming reversal of face wasn’t believable enough and thus he wasn’t good enough for her. She is, though, the type of character that I am looking for in erotic romances to some extent. Someone who knows her own body, her own self to a certain extent.

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  4. seton
    Jan 19, 2007 @ 10:35:18

    I agree with a lot of your review: my main reaction was relief that it was better than ASK FOR IT and I appreciated the character of Pel. She was sexy, worldly but very appealing to me as a character. Gray, on the other hand, was not as fully realized as a character to me. He never came off the pages. . . . despite for perfect juicy butt.

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  5. Lettetia
    Feb 10, 2007 @ 07:00:55

    THE STRANGER I MARRIED was one of the best books I read in 2006. Gray did want Pel, as was evidenced by his taking her away from his friend to marry her, and I think Pel had feelings for Gray though she denied them as Gray reminded her too much of her late husband.

    The sex scenes were appropriately well done and worked for this couple since- Pel needed to come to terms with her feelings, as remarked upon frequently in the book.

    There is certainly no comparison to the old “Bodice Rippers” that some readers are so fond of still – Judith McNaught’s books come to mind…

    Just my opinion, for what it is worth, but I felt THE STRANGER I MARRIED rated a “10″ and is residing on my “keeper” shelf. Any author who can write such unforgettable characters deserves applause in my book- too far apart and too few these days.

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  6. Sybil
    Feb 10, 2007 @ 10:30:22

    [quote comment="23117"]THE STRANGER I MARRIED was one of the best books I read in 2006. Gray did want Pel, as was evidenced by his taking her away from his friend to marry her, and I think Pel had feelings for Gray though she denied them as Gray reminded her too much of her late husband.[/quote]

    I liked the book too… somewhat less than you but I did have a question. Why do you think he ‘took her away from his friends by marrying her’? They both planned on and continued to have affairs. Until after he returned.

    So I didn’t see the marriage as an act of love at all. I think they were friends and I do so love a friends to lovers theme.

    ReplyReply

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