A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

STRANGER by Megan Hart

Don't faint. I'm actually going to attempt a review. I can't remember the last time I wrote a review about a book, but this one is worth it.

First of all I read STRANGER by Megan Hart more than a month ago. (Excerpt) Without even cracking open the book I looked at that cover and all sorts of impressions came rushing back to me. Considering my sporadic reading lately and the sheer number of books I've read in my life, that was a very good sign.

I think I read about half of STRANGER thinking that while it was well written I felt out of sorts with the dysfunctional Grace and Sam. They both seemed a little selfish and self indulgent. These are reasonably attractive and intelligent people who shouldn't be so screwed up.

On the surface Grace has it all. She has taken over as funeral director of her father's mortuary business. She's attractive, intelligent and a woman in sync and in charge of her universe.
Grace likes sex with strangers, no strings attached.

Even though Grace is far from a snob, it's hard to see, besides his looks, what would attract her to Sam. He is drifting through life without commitment playing his guitar in bars. He's recently returned to his home town for
his father's funeral. Sam doesn't want to grow up.

Whatever you are thinking right now about what you think you know about Grace and Sam or how they meet, you probably are wrong. That's part of the beauty of this book.

So there I am, reading a well written book, interested but irritated with the characters. I want them to grow up, look around and see how lucky they are.

Then in her own inimitable style Ms. Hart deftly drops in one of the most memorable scenes I can remember reading in long time.
This scene is not between Sam and Grace. It is Grace alone, at work. I don't want to say any more, but that scene was a major turning point in the book. It was an incredible way to reveal the soul of who Grace is. It changed the way I felt and cared about the character for the rest of the story. I was moved to tears. Big wet tears that dripped off my chin. For me the book is worth reading for that scene alone.

Don't be scared. This lovely erotic romance has the requisite happily ever after. Although in quintessential Hart style it is a more realistic happily ever after than the fairy tale one.

Another good read for me. I'm dying to discuss this with someone who's read it without spoiling it for anyone else. So, you know, write me already if you've read it.

This book was released on January 1st and should be in book stores now.

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Blogger Kati said...

Hm, I've been meaning to try Megan Hart, and this one sounds like the one. Great review, Rosie!

6:02 AM PST  
Blogger AuthorM said...

Rosie, thanks for this review! (Now I'm dying to know which scene turned it for you!)

You know, it's not easy to read that my characters irritate someone, because I know them so well I understand where they're coming from even when they're being pains...but on the other hand -- I like writing about people who aren't perfect, who do the stuff that we *all* do in real life, people who need a slap once in a while to "get it."

So, I'm glad that I was able to make it work for you with both of them, even though they were a little irritating in the beginning!

Thanks so much for reading!


8:01 AM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Kati, MH has some great books. You won't regret giving her a try. DIRTY and BROKEN were just awesome as well.

Megan, I'll email you about the scene. Maybe irritated is the wrong word. I kept reading with this expectation of "the moment" that would turn it for these characters. I looked back at my spreadsheet notes and I was really moved by how you managed to get them turned around not so much by changing them but bringing out who they really are. Yeah, I liked it. Can you tell?

8:31 AM PST  
Blogger Wendy said...

Sigh, I really need to get my butt into gear. This one is in the immediate TBR pile.....

8:52 AM PST  
Blogger AuthorM said...

Rosie -- no, no, I *get* what you mean about irritated -- like sometimes you have friends who just won't listen to you no matter what advice you give, even if they ASK for it...or something like that. And I think a lot of times, esp. in romances, we DO expect A MOMENT, that turning moment. I don't think I tried not to have a turning moment, or tried to HAVE one, in Stranger, I just...wrote them how they felt they had to be, if that makes sense.

But it got me to thinking about characters and what we expect and want to see, and maybe I'm a little off or have different expectations, which is why I write the people that I do...and is that bad? I mean, I'm not alone in the world, am I? LOL

But what I think and feel does of course color what and how I write, so maybe I need to be aware of that more?


9:07 AM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Wendy, hurry! I want to talk to you about it!

9:40 AM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Megan, I'd have to say you did an excellent job of revealing Sam and Grace little by little.

It's every bit like getting to know someone in real life. On the the surface this new person might bother or annoy you. Once you know them better the reasons (or motivation) behind the behavior is understood. You feel compassion, understanding and even acceptance. The person can even look physically different to you.

It's pretty amazing when you can do that with words.

As for expectations, hey I know what I get with your books. I'm still buying them. I don't think you and I are the only ones who might have (higher) these expectations.

In my little corner of the universe there seems to be a new awareness of grittier books out there and an even greater hunger for good romantic/erotic contemporary books.

I know it's said by writers and readers all the time, but I believe a reader can feel it in a story if the writer isn't staying true to themselves. The story will lack honesty in its characters. FWIW, you don't have that problem.

In fact, your characters seem like people I'd meet in my life. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. Sometimes I want to smack them upside their head for their self-destructive ways. I care about them, and, I have to tell you the ride is always fascinating and thought provoking.

9:41 AM PST  
Blogger AuthorM said...

Rosie, thank you.

And now I feel pretentious and a bit of a tw*t for rambling on about my "process" and whatnot. So I'll stop. :)

But thank you for reading!


11:47 AM PST  
Blogger ~ames~ said...

I ordered this on Friday, so I should get it sometime this week. Glad you liked it!!

9:44 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Ames, like I said to Wendy... hurry so we can discuss. ;)

6:54 AM PST  
Anonymous Deb said...

would love to discuss with you-

9:30 PM PST  
Blogger Rosie said...

Deb, send me an email. I work during the day so I usually answer emails in the evening or very early morning. My email addy is RnG1180@aol.com.

9:53 PM PST  
Blogger Christine said...

Hey Rosie!
I just finished reading Stranger a few days ago and of course, loved it. I'm game to discuss, so I'll email you tomorrow. I have some theories as to what would attract Grace to Sam in the first place. I'll start with that. ;)

11:30 PM PST  

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