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The Stranger I Married – Sylvia Day

on February 4, 2013

Stranger I MarriedThe Stranger I Married
Sylvia Day
Penguin AU
2013 (originally 2007), 294p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Lady Isabel Pelham had no intention of marrying again – she had been there, done that and it ended only in heartbreak. Instead she chooses to have lovers, but when they look like falling in love with her or like they might be about to propose marriage, she ends things. Quickly, neatly. It’s much easier that way.

Gerard Faulkner, the Marquess of Grayson is looking to avoid all of the society mothers who want to ensnare him and his title for their debutantes. His heart belongs to his beloved Em, but fate has it that she is married to another. Grayson thinks that Lady Isabel Pelham and he could do very well for each other – a marriage would prove to be a safe haven for both of them. They wouldn’t need to worry about any pesky feelings getting in the way of a good friendship and they would both be free to continue to enjoy the company of others. Isabel takes a little convincing but she begins to see the merit in the idea and they wed.

Not long after, Grayson receives some devastating news and he disappears. No one sees him until four years later, when he returns to society much changed. He’s older, less boyish and far less of a rogue. He’s wiser, more powerful, more forceful. He’s grown into his title and grown into himself and to Lady Isabel’s surprise, she finds him seeing her in a whole new light.

Grayson is a man who knows what he wants now and he wants Isabel. But his wife has had four years of freedom and she’s already had one marriage that almost broke her heart. Her body wants Grayson but her mind still likes to remind her of her former husband and the way she felt when she wasn’t enough for him. She could let Grayson seduce her, but she doesn’t dare give him her heart.

The Stranger I Married is another historical fiction by Sylvia Day. This one is somewhat similar to the previous one I read, in several ways: both female characters are older than the male character and both have been married before. There are gaps of time where the heroine doesn’t see the hero, although in this novel that gap is while they are married. And in both cases, when the hero returns to the heroine’s life, he is vastly different than before and stakes his claim for a relationship. There’s also an interesting subplot involving a relation of a main character finding their own match as well.

At first, the arrangement that Gerard, Marquess of Grayson and Lady Isabel (known affectionately among her friends as ‘Pel’), works well for them. Pel wants only casual lovers, someone to feel close to briefly and sate a physical need but she doesn’t want love. She’s had love before and she learned that by placing your heart in someone else’s hands, you open yourself up for a world of pain. She’s 26 and Grayson is 22 and in love with Em who married someone else while Grayson was away on the Continent. I think both Grayson and Pel enjoyed scandalising society a little bit with their reputations and their unusual marriage. At the base of it, they were quite good friends and Pel was upset when Grayson disappeared after receiving tragic news. She wrote to him each week and although Grayson never read the letters, he was aware of them. After four years, he decided to return to Pel and turn the marriage into a real one.

There’s no denying that upon Grayson’s return, there’s a sexual attraction that simmers between him and Pel. Grayson is older, no longer a boy of 22 still finding his way, but now a man of 26 who has known hard work and loss. Pel is 30 and the fact that she’s older than him is something that plays on her mind. She tries to resist his advances but Grayson isn’t taking no for an answer and hes determined to win her over and if he has to use his body in every which way possible, then all the better. This book will probably find many fans because it’s littered with a lot of very spicy sex scenes but I have to say, I personally found them to be quite repetitive. The same descriptive words are used over and over again (including several I find incredibly unerotic) and regular readers of Day will notice similarities between other historical romances of hers and also her contemporary erotic romance trilogy, the Crossfire books.

Where this book was saved for me, was the emotion and the way that Day brings two characters together to find each other. Grayson and Pel have both experienced some pretty painful times and both of them dealt with this somewhat badly. Grayson ran away and Pel closed herself off from love and something lasting, choosing instead to indulge in casual flings. Both of them come to care for each other a lot but the road to their happiness is filled with bumps and the way in which Day negotiates the characters dealing with these is in my opinion, her strength as an author. Much more so than the saucy scenes she peppers her books with. She is quite skilled at having characters express real and deep emotion, be it painful or joyous and takes time to have her characters establish trust within each other. Trust is the most fragile thing in a relationship and it’s gratifying to see novels that really take this to heart and use the time so that readers can see it developing, especially with characters like Pel who have had their trust shattered before. She does have times where she doubts Grayson and it seems very realistic that she has to work on herself to trust in someone again.

7/10

Book #27 of 2013

 
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2 responses to “The Stranger I Married – Sylvia Day

  1. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I have this to read but I have been putting it off – I don’t think I will really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. […] The Stranger I Married, by Sylvia Day Review: Just For Now, by Abbi Glines Review: Naked, by Raine Miller Review: The […]

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