To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig
Series: Runaway Desires #3
Publisher: Kensington, Lyrical Press
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
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After her much older husband dies-leaving her his fortune-Charlotte Blakemore finds herself at the mercy of her stepson, who vows to contest the will and destroy her life. With nowhere to turn and no one to help her, she embarks on an elaborate ruse-only to find herself stranded on the way to London. . .
More than twenty years in the West Indies have hardened Edward Cary, but not enough to abandon a helpless woman at a roadside inn-especially one as disarmingly beautiful as Charlotte. He takes her with him to the Gloucestershire estate he is determined to restore, though he is suspicious of every word that falls from her distractingly lush lips.
As far as Charlotte knows, Edward is nothing more than a steward, and there's no reason to reveal his noble birth until he can right his father's wrongs. Acting as husband and wife will keep people in the village from asking questions that neither Charlotte nor Edward are willing to answer. But the game they're each determined to play has rules that beg to broken, when the passion between them threatens to uncover the truth-for better or worse. . .
Charlotte has spent her life feeling unloved. She was taken as a baby to her uncle’s house because her mother died and her father took off to parts unknown. Since she was illegitimate they treated her as the hired help instead of family. When things started heating up in France (her mother was French, her father an English Earl) she left and stayed with her father’s family in England. They treated her horribly as well. When an elderly Duke who was friends with her aunt offers for her she accepts and thinks that maybe she’ll now get the love that she’s been missing. Unfortunately he doesn’t touch her physically and then dies 6 weeks later.
The will is read and Charlotte receives a huge portion of the Duke’s estate but his son, the new Duke, plans on proving that his father was crazy and getting the will overturned. Charlotte and her maid take off for London to stay in the house that was left to her but Charlotte believes she’s being followed by one of the Duke’s men so she trades places with her maid and stays behind at an inn. Unfortunately she grabbed the wrong valise and the money she had stashed away is now with her maid. Fortunately for her a kind man offers to take her with him to his family estate.
Edward Cary is the son of an Earl but his father is a monster. He beats Edwards mother regularly and Edward would do anything to save her. When he hears that she’s waiting to leave until Edward is in school he decides at the ripe old age of 9 to runaway so she can get away sooner. He heads off and takes a job on a ship. He returns to confront his father 22 years later but runs into Charlotte on his way back.
When Edward and Charlotte reach his family seat he finds it empty and in horrible condition. He hears his mother died not long after he left home and his father went to London and never returned. Edward introduces Charlotte as his wife to the “caretaker” of the property which puts them into an awkward position. It also causes problems when a man claiming to be the new Earl (Edwards father apparently passed) shows up and recognizes Charlotte for the Duchess she is. Both Charlotte and Edward need to come to terms with who they are and confront those who would keep them from claiming their titles.
To Seduce a Stranger was a good story. I liked both Edward and Charlotte and while they each had their own issues, they were truly good people. Charlotte had confidence in herself in some aspects of her life but she’s been told she wasn’t worthy of love and she believed it. Coming to terms with the fact that she could receive that love from Edward took her a while but she finally saw it for what it was.
Edward had had a horrible life to a point but then a good one after that. He’d seen horrors both at home and while on the ship but he’d survived and made a good life for himself in the West Indies. I had to give the guy props, he’d not only done well but tried to help with the slave issue as well. Just a good guy. I liked that while Edward helped Charlotte he didn’t completely trust her right off the bat because A) she was someone who needed help and b) she was a woman. Charlotte knew that Edward was keeping secrets as well but she trusted him too quickly imho. Edward was a smart man and I liked his character.
The book was a good one but was a bit crowded with characters. There were so many supporting characters that it was hard to keep up. There were also people who were mentioned or showed up, I assume from previous books in the series, that I was unfamiliar with. I think the author assumed the reader had read those books so plopped their names in. Despite that this was a decent standalone novel.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5