Review: Stranger In My Arms by Lisa Kleypas

Book info: 
Form: pdf format

Genre: historical romance
Target audience: adults

Synopsis:

As a young man accustomed to privilege and filled with a sense of invulnerability, Hunter Hawksworth had once believed the world existed only to please him. Accordingly he enjoyed different pleasures in every possible way: he had a young wife and a temperamental lover, a lot of friends to hunt with and cavort around, a nice, profitable estate. He lacked just one thing – an heir – but being still a young man he could hope to acquire that commodity as well. However one day he decided to go to India and almost drowned in a shipwreck. He was badly injured – had his head almost cracked open – and for some time forgot his own identity. When he got better, though, he started to remind himself the important details and returned home where he had been officially declared dead for some months.

Larissa lady Hawksworth was never more relieved than when she became a young widow. Although noticeably poorer, she was finally free from the debasing, disgusting marital duties and a brute of a husband who was bored by her almost immediately after their wedding. She could focus on things she liked the most – helping the others, especially underprivileged orphans. She enjoyed her independence, limited only by the money at her disposal, until her allegedly-dead husband returned, claiming his title and his wife back. What a drag. Couldn’t the man do one decent thing in his life and stay dead?

However, soon enough Lara finds out that a quite different person returned from the land of dead – Hunter has changed into a man she can trust, rely on and even love. Will it last? Is this new, improved lord Hawksworth really the person he claims he is?

My impressions:

It is a story about an angel tempted by the devil who was able to change into…whatever he wanted to be. Quite an usual pair of romantic protagonists but it worked for me well enough; let me tell you why in my own way.

Our young, green-eyed Lara is of course the said angel – sweet, unpleasantly experienced because married to a man who didn’t care about her at all. She is pretty but unaware of her assets and almost maudlin in her goody-goody attitude. Now returns Hunter, the very devil she feared and despised– he managed to survive a horrible accident and stayed in India long enough to pick up this and that (think Kamasutra, martial arts and yoga and you won’t be far off the mark).When I was reading about Hunter’s experiences I could hardly suppress a smile. He reminded me suspiciously of the generation of flower-children who considered a pilgrimage to India (yes, it was nothing less than a religious pilgrimage) to be a life-changing event, highly recommended to any troubled, world-weary soul. Hunter would fit in perfectly well; we are not told that but I suppose he was bored with his comfortable life and yearned for a change.

After he returns – thinner, fitter, more tanned and muscled-  he becomes really keen on his old-new wife. It is actually a classic trope: the charmed devil wants to seduce the angel but the angel doesn’t reciprocate, not at once anyway. Small wonder – Lara was so happy living alone and independent, unburdened by that oaf or a man, and all of a sudden she has a husband again, poor woman, and it seems it is really the same husband. Still she hasn’t expected what a spell in India could do to a man. The new Hunter is not only quite taken with her, he tries to win her heart back in a manner that would have tempted a saint or a saintly angel.

Accordingly Lara is tempted and after a while she cannot imagine her life without the new, tender, skilled Hunter who can teach her so many new things about practically everything (but mainly sex – hey, it is a romance, right?). Roughly after the first part of the novel the author makes us rethink the entire plot so far. The identity of Hunter is being questioned time and again (AND you might actually start to appreciate the DNA tests) but those most interested in proving he is an impostor are also the very people whose testimony can be instantly rejected or at least seriously doubted. For example his good-for-nothing, hypocritical uncle would love to fill in Hunter’s shoes again; also his former mistress bears a huge grudge after she was rejected and humiliated publicly by her former lover.

Can leopard change its spots? Can a devil turn into an angel to make another angel happy? I am pleased to say the author didn’t take an easy way out but if you want to know more you’ll have to read the book. No spoilers!

Final verdict:

It was one of better Kleypas romance novels I’ve read so far – more imaginative, with a logical, real-life  psychology and a plot with nice, interesting twists. Even if sometimes I hated Lara and her saintly-saint attitude I fully sympathized with her final choice. Let’s face it – who wouldn’t? I only wondered why it took her so long…

ETA: I really don’t get the cover. Not even for a moment.

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4 Responses to Review: Stranger In My Arms by Lisa Kleypas

  1. Aurian says:

    I really love her historical romance novels 🙂 So glad you liked it.

  2. This really is one of her best books! It was based on a real-life incident in France: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Guerre

  3. Oh, thanks for the link and I am glad you liked it as well!

  4. Thanks for you comment – as you see I am not incurable 🙂

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