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Stranger in My Arms

Stranger in My Arms - Lisa Kleypas

It really depresses me to give anything written by Lisa Kleypas below a 4 stars rating (3 in this case *cries*) but this just wasn't a winner for me. A complete first. :( She's my Queen of all things Historical Romance. I relish reading her work and never worry about what I'm gonna get when I start a book by her. It's always a treat and I end up devouring her books rather quickly. The first for me in this case was that I found the heroine Larissa absolutely intolerable throughout most of the story. Dear. gawd. She drove me up the wall. Bless her orphan-saving heart, I'm sorry but a fan of hers I was not. I found the contrasting side of her personalities or I should say high praises of her good virtues to be contradictory with how she acted around her husband, Hunter. We see other characters and the author tout her up as this caring virtuous selfless woman who devotes all her time to an orphanage in the village and saving orphans who have no home. I found that a complete clash and startling contrast to how she acted around Hunter. Quite a turnaround if you ask me. She was a complete sanctimonious shrew to be blunt. For someone so giving and kind hearted I failed to see that with her constant scathing remarks and hurling accusations at Hunter. Someone who she admits to wishing he was never found alive more than once. Who does that? *cringe* Yeah not a great start for me.

Her prudish, uptight, brittle haughty (and melodramatic as hell) attitude around Hunter got to be really tiring, frustrating and rage inducing. And I say this with complete understanding and realization of what this character was put through before her husband was believed to be 'dead'. Before his death, Hunter was brutish, arrogant, selfish and uncaring. That's a given. I won't make any excuses or pretend to understand or justify his behavior. He was a complete uncaring asshole. But that all being said, I found her to be unreasonable and unforgiving towards giving Hunter a second chance once he returned to her. He showed her over and over again how much he changed, showed her complete patience and willing to do anything to make her happy and apologizing more than once to no avail. But she kept pushing him away accusing him of manipulating her to get her in his bed. And this song and dance continues on pretty much through 90% of the book. It's safe to say my patience was pretty much gone half way in. She seemed to love to place herself as the victim and remind him on a daily basis how awful and brutish he was to her during their marital intimacies or as she loves to scathingly call it with a puckered face 'distasteful urges'. Every time she spitted that out I just kept picturing one of those prudish matronly spinsters sitting in a corner turning their noses up at anything of the sexual persuasion with an ugly sneer. RME. Really? NOT endearing.

The thing that's so fabulous and addictive about Kleypas's stories are they are filled with incredibly flawed three dimensional characters, flawed characters who come off so real and relatable in some way or another. They are far from perfect and some of them even have qualities that could be even shelved under villanuos and not so virtuous. Which just makes a reader want to root for them more and see where they end up. We get to stand in their shoes, fuss and rummage around in their heads and completely connect with them. And here, I found myself struggling, fighting to feel that connection with Lara and her relationship with Hunter. The more she fought her connection with Hunter tooth and nail the more I bucked as well. She went out of her way and seemed to love to play the part of the martyr a little too well. Even up to the point when the situation had nothing to do with her and the fate of Hunter's life rested in her hands, she made it about her and gave into hysterics and melodramatics. When everything falls apart or I should say is revealed she had the gall to blame Hunter and his family for putting her in 'this situation' a situation mind you that was taken out of Hunter's hands and by situation I mean their arranged marriage. The minute he's accused of doing something wrong, she of course decides to do the 'right thing' by turning him in, not even giving him the chance to explain and defend himself. And she doesn't waste time with the pity party. Oh no, she quickly sits in a corner and continues her 'why meeeee!' inner dialogue lamenting and moaning over how Hunter could do this to her, not us, not him, but of course.....her. Oh how could he! RME. *fumes* Put a damn sock in it woman and GROW UP.

Because of that (and so much more) I found her actions and attitude lacking integrity, character growth and just not root-worthy. For a heroine I found her to be self-centered, overly judgmental and ridiculously cruel. I really wanted to slap her on countless occasions. I'm not looking for a perfect saintly heroine. Far from it. If I was I wouldn't be reading a Kleypas book. But what I do want is to read about characters that I can relate to or have sympathy for and unfortunately for Lara I couldn't muster up any sympathy for her. She seemed to have plenty for herself. I don't want a heroine who likes to play martyr.

And I don't know why I'm making this review so long winded and going off tangents like some silly essay. lol I just feel like I'm breaking a sacred rule and having the need to explain why I hated this book as much as I did.

The only thing that was a saving grace for me and I was DYING to see more of in this book were the scenes in the last 3 chapters. Those trial scenes and everything after are what had me giving this a half star rating. Just barely. I just wish I saw this loving compassionate selfless side of Lara come out more through the rest of the story. I was waiting and waiting and...waiting to see a warmer, loving, courageous side that we see come out when she's defending her husband (about freaking time) at the end show up earlier.

Hunter while he's not my favorite Kleypas hero, he was interesting. I just wasn't as enthralled with him as I wanted to be until again, the very ending. We see this heartbreaking vulnerability that just took my breath away. Really wasn't expecting that. And his confession to Lara was so bittersweet and beautiful. Had me wishing the heroine was more deserving of his devotion to her.

Story: 3 stars
Characters: 2.5 stars