THE KISS OF A STRANGER by Sarah M. Eden

RHFL Classifications:

Historical Romance/ Heat Level 1 – sweet / REGENCY ERA

REVIEWER RATING: 5STARS

Blurb:When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn’t be more mistaken–the maid is not only a lady of birth, she’s the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentlemen, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle.


Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine’s utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife’s transformatoin from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately each of them wonders if theirs maay become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted. As a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

Review by CAZ

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hated having to put it down to do things like eat, sleep and go to work. It was a nice change to find a hero who is not a rake, a gambler, a-man-with-a-deep-dark-secret-past etc. Instead, Crispin, Lord Cavratt (which I kept misreading as “Cravat”!) is an all-round decent sort of fellow with a wicked sense of humour, wit, style and a degree of sensitivity not often found in romantic heroes. Sure, he’s got his faults (he has a tendency at times to be too flippant) but it was a refreshing change, and I think I’d probably go for a guy like Crispin over any number of devilishly charming rogues! The premise seems a little thin to start with – the well-trodden path of  hero and heroine being forced into a marriage of convenience through a mis-timed kiss – but there’s more meat in the book than that when we meet Catherine’s abusive uncle. Regular readers of romances set in this period will recognise the use of the conventions of the time in which men and women were not permitted to be alone together, let alone kiss each other unless they were betrothed at the very least; but what sets this story apart is the fact that those conventions are brought into play deliberately and rather needlessly.

Catherine has not been truly compromised by the kiss as it seems – to us and to Crispin – that the only witnesses to the kiss are unlikely to spread gossip (he reasons that Uncle won’t want to tarnish his niece’s reputation and that the clingy Miss Bower won’t want it known that Crispin would rather kiss some random woman than kiss her!).  But no – Uncle is looking for an excuse to get Catherine off his hands and grabs the first opportunity that comes along, to the point of even having a Special Licence ready and waiting.  But although he can’t wait to be rid of her, he won’t leave her alone once she’s left with her husband – as it seems she stands to come into rather a lot of money which Uncle wants to get his grubby hands on. I was completely drawn in by the characters in this story, and the way their relationship evolved was very well done indeed. Catherine has suffered years of abuse since the death of her parents, but the way that Crispin gradually gains her trust and gives her confidence in herself is really lovely. There’s no smut – only a few kisses – but I don’t think that going beyond the bedroom door was necessary, and I venture to suggest that it might have actually spoiled the overall effect. This one is definitely going on my “must read again sometime” list!

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

I’m a musician, teacher and mother of two girls and have always been an avid reader.  I was introduced to the novels of Jean Plaidy at the age of eleven and have never looked back!  I love good, meaty, well-researched historical fiction – whether it’s about real figures (Sharon Penman) or fictional ones (Dorothy Dunnett), but I’m a sucker for a well-written historical romance, too. Current favourite authors include Meredith Duran, Sherry Thomas and Cecilia Grant.

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