By Melanie Murray, RBTB Correspondent
I don’t know about you, but I rarely encounter handsome strangers. And they’d come in handy, right? Especially when you’re about to step in a muddy puddle. Or need to make a quick getaway. Or can’t help bursting into tears in a private, darkened room.
Thankfully, there are plenty of good men to be found in historical romances, and they’re always armed with a thick coat for keeping your boots dry, a well-trained horse to spirit you from danger, and a strong, silent shoulder that’s perfect for crying on.
In Mary Blayney’s emotionally rich historical romance, “Stranger’s Kiss,” just such a mysterious hero not only exists, but he happens to know exactly what a woman in tears needs: a gentle demeanor, sympathetic conversation, and a kiss that’ll knock her socks off.
Lynford Pennistan, the Duke of Meryon, has been away from England for the entire year since his wife died. He has reentered the ton but finds social engagements tiresome. At one function, he takes a private moment in an empty salon to compose himself and is shocked to be interrupted by a beautiful woman he’s never met.
The lady is Signora Elena Verano, herself no stranger to heartache. Like Meryon, she’s lost a beloved spouse. And like Meryon, she’s almost ready to move on with her life. After an intimate conversation in which they reveal their inner-most thoughts and feelings, an unforgettable kiss has them each contemplating a possible romantic entanglement.
But when they meet again in the light of day, things get complicated. Both Elena and Meryon begin to feel suspicious of their own feelings. Can Elena sacrifice her independence for a Duke, a man used to people blindly accepting his authority? And will Meryon be happy with a woman who demands more of his heart and mind than he’s used to sharing?
And there’s more blocking their happiness than their own doubts. Elena has a score to settle with the aging Duke of Bendas. Bendas just happens to be Meryon’s sworn enemy, because he once threatened the life of Meryon’s sister. Suddenly Meryon’s worlds are colliding, and he has to decide whether an old vendetta is worth sacrificing his new love.
“Stranger’s Kiss” is a passionate and refined tale of second chances. The emotion between Elena and Meryon is bewitching and all the more enjoyable because the two characters are adults; they’ve each already found love and are bravely willing to try again. The story of how they decide to take a gamble on another go-round will have you cheering when you --
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