Monday, January 12, 2009

REVIEW: Stranger by Megan Hart

Sorrow, like songs, is never the same. ~Grace Frawley

Grace Frawley is the funeral director of Frawley and Sons funeral home, a long time family business that she recently took over from her father. Grace has been working hard at filling her dad's shoes in the business and also making small changes and improvements in order to keep a competitive edge in the business. She's diligent with her business responsibilities, and also very patient and compassionate with her clients all of whom are in varied states of emotional distress. Constantly exposed to people losing and grieving for their loved ones, Grace has decided to live her life without the risk of suffering those horrendous losses for herself. She doesn't want anything to do with marriage, or even boyfriends, so Grace hires escorts for dates and often, if not most times, for sex.

Regularly using an escort service and paying for sex is Grace's deepest kept secret and suits her just fine. Grace prearranges her dates with the escort agency with specific instructions on where she'd meet her escort and includes the pretense under which they would meet and proceed to a private place for sex. Her sex life is exciting and satisfying, and most of all, she's safe from the emotional attachment of a relationship that inevitably ends in loss and pain. Until the night, that is, that Grace signed up with the agency to pick up a stranger at a bar and proceed upstairs to a room for sex, and she hooks up with Sam Stewart instead. It isn't until after Grace leaves Sam's room after a night of hot, passionate, unforgettable sex that she checks her voicemail only to find out her hired escort missed their date and she picked up the wrong stranger. Or is he the right one?

Once again, Megan Hart has written an otherwise straightforward story of a young woman who avoids romantic relationships, and transformed it into a thought provoking, insightful story of self reflection and discovery that is perfectly layered with dramatic realism and sensuality that is simply unforgettable. Right from the start, the reader learns that Grace pays for sex because she doesn't want the emotional entanglement and the inevitable pain and loss that follows when either the relationship fails or worse, when the one you love dies. But why does she go to such lengths to avoid relationships? What really makes Grace Frawley tick? Can the right man make her change her ways? Is the joy of love worth the risk of losing that love? All of these questions are explored through this riveting story told from Grace's point of view as she struggles to keep her emotional attachments in check.

Stranger is not just the story about Grace Frawley and her sexual escapades. Stranger is the story about Grace Frawley and how she learns about love and loss taking risks through her relationships with the people around her. It's about her relationship with her father who can't help but keep his nose in her business in more ways than one. It is about her relationship with her sister who has the seemingly picture perfect happily ever after with a husband, two kids, and a nice suburban life, but is struggling with her own happiness. It's about her relationships with her office assistant and her intern, and how to balance friendship with professionalism. It's about her relationships with all the families in their various states of emotional well being that pass through Grace's life because she is the one they turn to in preparing their loved one for final good byes. It's about her relationship with Jack, her regular escort at the agency, with whom emotional barriers begin to falter for both parties. It's about her relationship with Sam Stewart who was once a stranger, but ends up teaching Grace a few things about joy, love, and intimacy, and whether experiencing all that is worth the risk of losing it at any moment.

Grace sincerely believes she's doing the best thing for herself by remaining emotionally detached from any guy she goes out on a date with or has sex with. Her confidence in this arrangement, though, begins to falter both with her regular escort Jack and even more so when Sam shows up in her life again after that fateful night of picking up the wrong stranger. The pace at which Grace allows herself to become emotionally involved with a man after having such resolute feelings on the matter is realistic and convincing. I liked that she struggled with allowing herself to love someone until practically the very end when it was almost too late. I liked that she learned that decisions about love aren't just about herself, but about the other person, too.

Realistic characters, natural dialogue, beautiful erotic and romantic trysts, and thought provoking insights on life, death and love all exemplify Megan Hart's signature style of erotic fiction. The characters and their stories will remain on your mind and in your heart long after you've closed the book.


Stranger was released on January 1, 2009. Visit Megan Hart at .


  1. Great review, Christine. I read the excerpt for it and that coupled with your review tells me that I will love this story. I can't wait to read it!

    P.S. That is one sexy cover.

  2. ANother great review, Christine!

    I have thought about reading one of her books, but it's that dreaded first person. It reads so differently than third person, you know?

    They sound really good though, with a lot of emotion. Someday maybe :).

  3. I can't imagine anyone not liking this story. It's so unique and personal. Very sexy and also emotional. I love the way Megan Hart can write such a profound story about people who are seemingly so average. I suppose we all have complex and affecting lives at any given time, but Megan Hart has a wonderful talent for capturing the sensual and provocative and writing an intriguing novel about it. Anyway, I hope you like Stranger as much as I did!

    P.S, The cover is quite sexy. Totally captures Grace's sexcapades, I think.

  4. Amy, I know you don't like first person, but I think you'd like Megan Hart's work. Her stories are super sexy, but the characters and their lives are so riveting. You should give her a try. :)

  5. I SAW THIS BOOK!!! It caught my eye at Borders last week. But when I picked it up and read that she ran a funeral parlor I was like, eh. I'm happy to see you gave it such a high grade, Christine. Maybe I really need to re-think this one.

  6. Ohhh...I saw this in the bookstore last week and at first glance I did not seem too interested. Now, after reading your review I find that I want it. I will have to place this on my TBR list.I do not believe that I have read any of Megan Hart's books before but will now have to.

    Thank you for a great review and for expanding my reading library. I am always looking for a good story :)

  7. The premise for this one drew me right away. I've only read one Megan Hart book and always meant to remedy that. Thanks for the review, Christine! I'll be adding this to my next book order. :)

  8. I picked this one up yesterday between your review, and Rosie's I can't wait to dive in!

    Another wonderful review, Christine! Thank you.

  9. FABULOUS review Christine!

    I was thinking about adding this book to my order for this month and now will not hesitate to do so. It sounds thought provoking and wonderful!

    Thank you SO much.

  10. Okay, I'm adding this to my upcoming haul. I can't wait. Great review!!

  11. *sigh* I just love reading your reviews. You just get to the heart of the book and tell it perfectly - without giving too much away. Wonderful.

    This sounds like a really interesting book that I think I'm gonna have to go buy now after reading your review. :)

  12. What an interesting concept about having the heroine being the funeral director!
    This sounds right up my alley. And I assume that Grace gets her HEA.
    Great review as always!

  13. Thank you Christine! What a great review! I think I picked up Megan Hart's first book Dirty but didn't read it. I've heard so much talk about them I think I need to try again. Are the books all standalones and, if so, which book should I read first or does ir not matter? Thank you!

    PS And I agree - the cover is amazing!

  14. Thank you, Christine! I appreciate this so very much. :)


  15. I have two other of her books and really must get down to reading them. This one sounds very good and emotional and I think I'll soon have three Megan Hart books

  16. Ugh, I went to Borders to look specifically for this book. They didn't have it anymore :( I will try B&N and if not then I will just end up ordering it online.

  17. Great review, Christine! Thanks.

    This is one of the first books I'll buy when I feel more like reading again.

    And like most seem to do, I really like the cover.

  18. I have enjoyed Megan's "Dirty" and "Tempted" (though I didn't care so much for the heroine)and I will definitely be reading this one. I love how she delves into the ugly parts and bring them to light. There's really a lot of hope in her stories, and they catch me off-guard. Great review, btw.

  19. Barbara:: DarlingDvia:: KMont:: Kati:: Lea:: CarolynJean:: and Tracy:: I'm so glad you all liked my review and that it got you interested in Stranger. Definitely don't avoid the book because Grace is a funeral director. It's such an integral part of the story, but is never morbid at all. It's very natural and the glimpses into the world of a funeral director--and in particular to Grace's world-- is both professional and compassionate. It makes you think about life and love and death. But not in a depressing way, either. Anyway, I hope you all give Stranger a try. I really loved it.

    KB:: There is an HEA. It is realistic and satisfying.

    orannia :: Grace's "stranger" is Sam Stewart who is the brother of Dan Stewart from Megan's earlier novel, Dirty. Dan has a few cameo appearances in Stranger, but you really don't need to read any of Megan's novels in order. You should just read one of her books! LOL

    Megan:: Thanks for stopping by. And you're very welcome. I love your work. :)

    Kristie:: You ought to do a Megan Hart marathon and read them all back to back!

    Barbara:: Can't wait to hear your thoughts when you read this novel!

    Taja:: I hope you like it! :)

    Stacy:: Tempted was really intense... and at times made me uncomfortable, even though I never judged Anne, James or Alex for any of their emotions or actions. It was a tough read for me, but I loved it.

    I love how she delves into the ugly parts and bring them to light. There's really a lot of hope in her stories, and they catch me off-guard.

    I hope you like Stranger.

  20. I can't wait to read this one. Just got it in the mail. But I'm saving it for when I finish a dreaded work task -- as a reward! Great review!

  21. What an excellent review. I came over to check out this book from the Contemporary Romance Challenge. Now I have to have this book. You made it sound intriguing and multi-dimensional. Thanks for the recommendation on a new (to me) author.

  22. Hi Margot! Thank you so much for reading my review and leaving the comment. I don't think you'll be disappointed at all for picking this one up.

    Jessica :: I'm so sorry that I overlooked your comment. I'm so excited that you picked up Stranger, too, and hope you like(d) it! :)


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