The Stranger I Married was my second reread of 2020. I was SHOCKED when I pulled up Amazon to help with writing this review and saw I first purchased and read it wayyyy back in 2014. I thought it had been a lot sooner. This book was just as steamy as I remembered and the characters were just as amazing and full of depth, but I do have more insight nearing 30 than I did at my first read, when I was 24. The Stranger I Married was one of the first heavily erotic historical romances I read, but as much as it’s probably almost 50% sex scenes and/or sexual tension scenes, there is a ton of character development which is why it will always be one of my favorite romances.
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The summary, from Amazon:
The Marquess of Grayson never felt a twinge of guilt when he stole the beautiful Lady Pelham right out from under his best friend’s nose. After all, they were well matched in all things–their sensual appetites, wicked wits, provocative reputations, and their absolute refusal to ruin their marriage of convenience by falling in love.
But then a shocking turn of events sent her roguish husband from her side. Four years later, he has returned a powerful, irresistible man who is determined to seduce his way into her affections. No, this is not at all the man she married. But he is the man who might finally steal her heart. . .
“Day plays on sensual themes with a lush grace.” —RT Book Reviews
Buy The Stranger I Married here!
The romance in The Stranger I Married has one of the most unique set-ups I’ve ever read. Gerard, also referred to by his title Grayson or nickname Gray, is 22 when he marries Isabel, also referred to by her nicknames Bella and Pel (based off her title), who is a 26-year-old widow. Gray doesn’t want to marry. He likes sleeping around and having fun. And Isabel doesn’t want to remarry, either. Her late husband, Pelham, married her when she was fresh out of the school room. She takes lovers but leaves them whenever they insist on marriage, because Pelham cheated on her and she believes any husband will do the same. So Gray proposes a marriage of convenience, where they can continue to have their lovers and just be friends.
This all works well for some months, but then Gray’s long term love, Emily, passes away giving birth to his child, who also dies. Gray spends the next years off the radar, until he unexpectedly comes back to London and Isabel’s life four years later. He’s matured, and the tension between them is palpable. However, Isabel still has her guard up, as does Gray in a way, and no matter how hot the sex is, they have to work hard to bring those walls crashing down.
We also get to see another romance between Rhys, Isabel’s brother, and Abby, an inexperienced bluestocking who wants to experience sex, but refuses to marry until she falls in mutual love. It’s not the focus of the story, but a fun side plot.
There are some problematic scenes and tropes in this one for sure, which is why it only gets 4 stars for me, but for the most part they all do to advance the plot. Even though it isn’t perfect, this is still one of my favorite romances.
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Despite only rating this 4 stars, this is one of my favorite romances. (This was my first reread.) This book is truly an erotic romance with a ton of sex scenes, but Pel and Gray really work hard fo bring out the best in one another and slay their personal demons. There are some problematic scenes, especially in the otherwise adorable side romance between Isabel’s brother, Rhys, and his bluestocking love interest Abby. But otherwise if you like your historical romance super porny but with great characters, I really recommend this one.
P.S. I like to read my romances and prefer nonfiction audiobooks, but different strokes for different folks, right? I love Audible, and if you like audiobooks and romance, I suggest you try the Audible Romance Free Trial. Get unlimited listening free for one month. Who doesn’t like free?
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