Friday, May 7

The Perfect Stranger - Anne Gracie

Despite the protests of her friends and family, Faith Meridew followed her heart, and left everything she knew for love. But the man she loved was perfidious, and Faith is now a ruined woman. Making her may across France on foot, her state is obvious to all - her clothes torn and dirty, her shoes ill-fitting, and her resources exhausted, she thought she had experienced the worst possible, until three Frenchmen pursue her across a beach in the depths of night. It looks as though they will succeed, until a stranger emerges from the shadows and rescues her.
Nicholas Blacklock is not inclined to stand by and allow a lady to be ravished. But he is not without agenda - he needs a wife and, as he has a dire and secret medical condition, he need harbour no feelings for her. But he does require she be a gentlewoman, and it's clear even in her current state that Miss Meridew is that. so despite the protests of his close friends and companions, Nick allows Miss Meridew to accompany them; he's more than a little surprised to find Miss Meridew exerting her own strong opinions with little or no provocation, and more surprised by how much he likes it.
I heard of Gracie through Smart Bitches, and am glad of the recommendation - the characters are engaging, the plot original without veering too far from expectation, and there are genuine moments of humour, as when Faith and Nick argue about a suitable wedding present to celebrate her betrothal:
"I'll buy you a ream of bloody writing paper, but not as a wedding present.... Now think of a proper present."
She gave him a look from under her lashes. "Some people think a person should think up their own presents. Some people think the value in the present is the thought behind it."

Those people have never been given hideous items they never wanted!" he retorted.
there were certainly elements I was less fond of, including a mystical aspects that acted as a deus ex machina to alter the plot, but I otherwise found The Perfect Stranger a lovely introduction to Gracie and a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. - Alex

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