Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Perfect Stranger by Anne Gracie

Book Description:
They vow to love, honor and cherish ... and then get to know one other...

With her signature spirit, Faith Merridew has left everything she’s ever known for the man she thought was the love of her life. Instead he leaves her name - and dreams - in the dust. That is, until she crosses paths with Nicholas Blacklock, a Waterloo veteran, who offers to save her reputation with a marriage of convenience.

A hardened soldier, Nick hides a deadly secret - and tries to keep Faith at arm’s length. But even though Nick can command legions of men with a word, his orders go sweetly ignored by his convenient bride. And as they come to know one another more deeply, she brings out in him things he thought dead: gentleness, laughter…and love…

Quickie review.  I've been distracted and busy of late and need to do some catching up.

This is Faith's story, third in the Regency Merridew Sisters series.  Twin sister to Hope, from the last book in the series, The Perfect Waltz, Faith is a beauty with a love of music.  Duped by a con artist who passes himself off as a Russian violin virtuoso of royal lineage, she elopes with him, only to find out months later that he's already married.  Left high and dry, she is ruined.  Stranded, alone in France, with no money and no food, she has nothing but the clothes upon her back.  Just as she is about to face the end at the hands of a few Frenchmen with rape on their minds, she is miraculously rescued by a handsome stranger who handily dispatches the villains and takes Faith under his wing and protection.  She owes him her life.

Her prince in shining armor's name is Nicholas Blacklock.  As soon as he hears of Faith's sad story he tells her he will marry her to save her reputation, in spite of the protestations from his friend, a giant Scot, who is wary of women and distrusts all of them.  Faith is aghast at the idea as well.  She can't just up and marry some stranger she knows nothing about!  But, the alternative is unthinkable.  She's stuck and soon acquiesces and accepts his proposal.  Nick carries a secret.  Raised in England from a noble family he is a man who thinks his days are numbered.  By marrying Faith, he will give her his name, status and a home in England with his mother, where she will be well taken care of.  A last good deed before he dies.  No strings and no future attached.  A marriage in name only.  He intends to send her on a packet to France the day after they marry, never to see her again. 

What secret is he hiding and can they avoid falling in love despite their promise not to? Nick is convinced he is dying, yet, we, the readers, have no idea why.  Migraine headaches plague him, but that's about as much as we know.   Faith is completely oblivious, having no idea that he expects to die soon.  All she knows is he has saved her and she doesn't want to leave him.

Of course they fall in love, this is a romance after all.   Faith proves to be irresistible and she refuses to leave for England, no matter what Nick tells her to do.  She keeps coming back to him after he thinks he's sent her off and good bye for good.  He can't get rid of her, and soon he doesn't want to.  They fall in love quickly, yet it is bittersweet, for all the while, there is this sense of doom hanging over them - what is it?  How can it be prevented?  Is there any hope?  And what is in Spain where he is heading - and why?  Yet, despite the impending doom, their nights together are blissful, their only chance to be alone - the idea of a marriage in name only went out the window their first night together!

Faith is adorable and I liked her.  She will not accept no for an answer from Nick and tries her best to be a good military wife to him as they travel on horseback, sleeping rough sometimes, camping and cooking over fires throughout the French countryside  Faith has come a long way from Bond Street in London.  His friends soon accept and love her as well and do all they can to make the road easier for her.  But they also know Nick's secret, and the closer they get to their destination in Balbao, Spain, the more uneasy everyone becomes.

This turned out to be a poignant story after the slow start of when Faith and Nick meet and before they marry.  It picked up about half way through and became a page turner.   I had to find out what his secret was and how it was resolved.  The secondary characters were well drawn and the side story between Nick's Scottish friend and the young and wild Spanish girl they meet was an interesting diversion that ultimately led to the big finale when everything came together.  I didn't feel like I really got inside Nick's head, maybe it was due to his secret for most of the book.  Although, I liked him as a hero and kept hoping for a happy outcome!  I loved his idea of swimming lessons!  Faith's character was deeper and more involved..  It also helped that I knew her from the two previous books as well.  She was persistent and strong, she grows up in this book and becomes a resilient woman, no longer a victim.

I recommend this series, although this book was my least favorite, primarily because it had the shadow of death overhanging most of it.  Still, I enjoyed it and I can assure everyone it ends happily, albeit with a touch of the supernatural.



Blodeuedd said...

I do think that if I would read this series then I would certainly start with the other ones :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Blodeuedd, yes, begin with the first and read them in order. I loved the first two!

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