4 stars and a half

Historical Romance Review: Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas

Stranger in My Arms, Lisa Kleypas, Avon, 1998, Max Ginsburg cover art

4 1/2 Stars

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Stranger in My Arms was the first Lisa Kleypas romance I read and found it to be quite enchanting. Although I was already familiar with this kind of plot, the book came off very fresh, if a bit improable.

The Plot

If you’ve seen the Richard Gere and Jodie Foster movie, Sommersby, you know the basic story. Here, this romantic tale takes place in Regency England, not the American South. Lady Lara, Countess of Hawksworth, is happy to be a widow. Lara had a horrible marriage to a man who was a monster to her. Hunter was cold, dispassionate, and adulterous.

Her husband Hunter was pronounced dead, having been presumed drowned at sea, the body never recovered. Now Lara is a widow, free to live as she desires.

Then the worst imaginable occurs when Hunter mysteriously reappears. Although he looks exactly like her dead husband, this man doesn’t always act like it. He doesn’t seem to know or remember certain things, which could be due to injury from his accident at sea. More likely, as Lara suspects, he’s an imposter. How else to explain the desire she feels for this man? He’s sweet and caring to her and makes her feel things he never had in the past. Lara doesn’t believe he’s her dead husband. He can’t be.

Even Hunter’s former mistress doesn’t believe it’s him.

But how to explain how this man seems to know so much about Hunter and Lara? Who is he, really? This new Hunter is so wonderful. He makes erotic, passionate love to Lara. Slowly she falls in love with the man she once hated.

However, as I said, we’ve seen this story before, and it turns out the same all the time. Yes, this Hunter is an imposter. He knows all about Hunter because they met each other and Hunter shared much information about his personal life with him. No, the truth is not revealed to society. Lara loves this man, whoever he is.

Final Analysis of Stranger In My Arms

I adored reading this book. I recall being so delighted by the fine quality of Klepyas’ writing that I was convinced I had finally found a new favorite author. It had been a long time since I had been so excited to read a romance novel. (This was in the late 1990s when I was beginning the second romance-reading phase in my life, which lasted from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s.)

Stranger in My Arms was a fantastical story, in the truest sense of the word, as it demands a huge suspension of disbelief because most people do not have secret identical copies of themselves walking around. The writing was empathetic and moving. This wasn’t Kleypas’ best work, which says a lot about how good she is. I enjoyed it immensely. It’s a romance that stays with you, with lingering feelings of sweet joy.

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