Monday, August 10, 2009

Never Marry a Stranger-Gayle Callen

Never Marry a Stranger
Gayle Callen
Avon, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780061235078

In 1845 Captain Matthew Leland returns home to England to inform his family he did not die in India as reported. When he left for overseas duty, his parents were estranged, but they seem reconciled as they enthusiastically greet him. He is stunned when they introduce him to his wife Emily as he knows his spouse died in India. He pretends he has amnesia and does not recognize her as he wants to avoid scandal and learn what her scam is. Matthew admires her reactions to his probing as she brazenly responds without tipping her hand.

Arthur Stanwood knows he is in trouble with his debtors. He seeks Emily who escaped from his control. The next day Matthew’s two sisters are excited to see him. Matthew also notices how his family and the servants love Emily and she seems to cherish each one of them. They take a walk and she promises to help him remember. Having learned of the miraculous return in the paper, Stanwood sends a note to Emily informing her he knows the truth. She fears him knowing he murdered the Vicar Tillman for helping her. Matthew sees her toss the letter in the fire and removes it. He has proof of her duplicity, but not why. As they fall in love, each knows the other lies to protect his family, but neither knows why while Stanwood demands payment or else.

The spinning relationship between the lead couple is excellent starting with his coming home from the “dead” to a “wife”. His family is fully developed and Emily has changed them from estranged to loving; however she is too perfect as everyone loves her. Still fans will appreciate this fine Victorian romance as those who dare to trust in love triumph every time.

Harriet Klausner

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