Romance in France

— feeling love
The Perfect Stranger - Anne Gracie

I enjoyed this historical romance very much. Some time ago, I read a glowing review of one of this author’s novels (I’m not sure if it was for this book or another of hers) and I added her name to my TBR list, to try some time, maybe. When I saw this book at a thrift store, I picked it up, but I was still skeptical. My skepticism dissolved after the first few pages. I couldn’t stop reading and couldn’t stop smiling.

I finished the book in two sittings and I’m definitely going to read more of Anne Gracie. Such a nice discovery. I’m tingling with anticipation. She has quite a few books published already, so I’m looking forward to a pile of pleasurable reading material.

Like most classical romances, this one is formulaic. It starts with a bang. Time – one summer night in 1818. Place – a beach in France. Characters – a young naive English woman Faith and a former British officer Nick. Faith is escaping some brutes, running along the beach. The thugs almost caught her, when a stranger appears out of the night and saves her.

After a devastating mistake, she is alone, ruined, in a foreign country, without any money or any hope. Her prospects are bleak. He is a former officer who can’t see a woman suffering. He offers her the only thing that could save her – his name. They marry the next day. The rest of the story is their traveling together, learning to love and trust each other, discovering new hope, and finding soul mates.

The plot is not very important, it’s just a vehicle for the characters, and they shine in this novel. Although both are fairly standard – she is soft and loving but with a steely core, femininity at her best; he is a deceptively rough fellow, an alpha male with a heart of gold – their interactions are full of humor, interlaced with emotions. The tension is high throughout the tale, and the pace is as fast as any reader could wish.

The narrative flows, and the action feels like ping-pong, zinging back and forth across the book’s landscape, highlighting an occasional absurdity and often twisting in unexpected directions like bends on a mountain road. The faint whiff of the ridiculous prevents this amusing tale from being too sweet and too blatantly sexual, making it just saucy enough to make even the most discerning reader happy.

The only problem I could find with this book is a pet peeve of mine. Nick has a dark secret and he keeps this secret from Faith. This is a typical fiction device; I would’ve accepted it with equanimity, even if I don’t like plots based on secrets, if the author didn’t keep that secret from me as well. Unfortunately, she did, and I hate such gimmicks. It spoiled the book for me, at least somewhat, so I dropped half a star from my rating.

Otherwise, an almost perfect romance.

 

Note: I just won a giveaway from Murder by Death, and she is sending me another book by Anne Gracie. I feel so happy about it. Thanks, friend!