When Strangers Marry (Lisa Kleypas)

0 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is my least favorite Lisa Kleypas book (one of her first as a romance author and I think her first with Avon). You’ve got a hero and heroine who marry early and are attracted to one another, but also a lot of things that are just overly dramatic (for the sake of being dramatic). There’s the suspicion that our hero murdered his first wife (of course not), the horrible stepfather who’s trying to force our heroine into a marriage, and rebellious teenaged sons the hero is trying to raise… there are just too many balls to juggle, all of them a little overdone, so that the romance gets lost.

Greater Detail:
I love Lisa Kleypas, so I’ll keep this short… read the Comparisons section for recommendations.

This book had an interesting setting: New Orleans shortly after Jefferson purchased it. There are some nice historical details and linguistical things happening throughout the book…

But… there are just too many cliches (and most of them not well done): the heroine who’s super young and escapes an almost-arranged marriage agreed upon by her stepfather and a lecherous (actually kind of evil) older man…the hero who saves her when she’s ill, nursing her back to health…

The romance is almost instantaneous and resolves much too quickly (they like one another almost immediately, despite the large age difference, etc), and so the romance actually is kind of fast, furious, and then kind of just there as filler/backdrop for the rest of the novel.

The stepchildren (rebellious teenaged sons from the hero’s first marriage) angle was also a little creepy for me. Because there’s a 15+ year age difference between the hero and heroine (he’s mid 30s, she’s barely legal by current standards), our heroine is only a few years older than her stepsons, and when she starts to try to parent them, it’s a little hard to swallow.

The actual whodunit part is fairly predictable and really, there was little to enjoy in this novel. She’s written so much better, and there’s just so much more that’s actually worthy.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
Lisa Kleypas is a best-selling author, and though she has focused more recently on modern romance, she is one of the queens of the historical romance genre.  Compared to Stephanie Laurens, Kleypas tends to have more individualized characters, and a better supporting cast, but less sensual/erotic love scenes.  She’s also great at exploring a particular topic or setting – some of her books happen in gambling clubs, others in the theatre, and others feature protagonists who are deeply aware of social/political issues, helping to really establish you in the setting/time period in a way that not all historical romance authors can.  She’s less funny and her characters and scenarios are less light-hearted than Julia Quinn’s, but her characters tend to have a greater degree of physical attraction/sensuality compared to Quinn’s. My favorites by her are: It Happened One Autumn (or really anything in the Wallflower series) and Mine Till Midnight (and really almost anything in the Hathaways series).

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