4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An enjoyable romance with a different setting,
This review is from: The Perfect Stranger (Merridew Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
Anne Gracie's Regency romances are definitely a notch above the average. Her "Perfect" series follows five sisters, all named after virtues (Prudence, Hope, Faith etc) as they find love. Although a series it's not necessary to read the books in order to enjoy any of the individual stories - they work fine as standalone books, this one particularly.
"The Perfect Stranger" focuses on Faith Merridew, twin sister of Hope, whose life at the outset of the book is a complete disaster. She has been tricked by a violinist into a sham marriage and has escaped him, only to find herself a social outcast, sleeping on the beach and in danger from various men. When chased by some men bent on rape she finds herself rescued by Nicholas Blacklock, a former soldier. All this happens right at the beginning of the book and it's a great and lively start to what becomes an engaging tale. Nick looks after Faith and soon offers her marriage to help her socially and to quieten his mother who has been trying to get him to marry for years. However Faith, once she feels a little more in control of her life, isn't willing to just wave goodbye to Nicholas as he journeys to Spain and Portugal on a mystery personal mission - she decides to travel along with him, hoping to turn their marriage into one more than name only.
Faith is a feisty heroine, a woman who is able to overcome incredible challenges - perhaps she's even too good to be true. Nicholas is the traditional tall dark and handsome but troubled hero that Faith wants to understand and help. The reader knows all along that there's something more going on in Nick's life - although most of the point of view of the story is Faith's we also occasionally dip into Nick's view. We also learn a little more about Nick's two companions, including the misogynistic Scotsman Mac, and there is even a side romance involving one of these characters.
The enjoyment in this story is that of the way in which Nick and Faith come to know each other and particularly in the way Faith manages to overcome her past (not particularly dwelt on in the story, we learn more of this in Prudence's story, "The Perfect Rake") and learn to be a suitable wife for a soldier. Of course there's a shock in this story which is trailed from fairly early on, and its resolution in some ways was slightly unsatisfying for me, but overall it was a very enjoyable story with a very different setting than usual - no balls, country houses and duels in this story, instead we read of travelling by foot and horse through France to Portugal with our characters sleeping on beaches and in open ground, suffering injuries and getting sunburned.
This is a very different story than Anne Gracie's other "Perfect" series to date, mainly in terms of the setting. The love story is sweet and not beset by the usually obligatory Big Misunderstanding or mutual hatred - our characters have other things going on to take their attention and that makes for a slightly different, but nonetheless enjoyable, read.