Musings of a Bibliomaniac

Goodreads immigrant. Another victim of corporate tyranny. I blog at Musings of a Bibliomaniac along with my co-blogger Scarlet.

Stranger in My Arms - Lisa Kleypas Caution:- This is going to be a long review despite the fact that this is a romance novel and I usually don't write long reviews for romance novels.

A year ago I had discovered Lisa Kleypas when I got my hands on the [b:Blue-Eyed Devil|1756703|Blue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2)|Lisa Kleypas||2323791]. A book which did not capture my imagination right at the onset but which reeled me in very slowly and left me quite charmed by the end.
I thought, here's a romance novelist who doesn't sugar-coat domestic abuse, try to make it appear less than it actually is and gives you quite a chilling account of the brutality of an abusive relationship, the rawness of it. And she also provides you with valuable information on how the abusive husbands/lovers are always people who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a psychological condition.
At least, going by romance novel seriousness standards her narrative was quite gripping.
Like for example, I cannot imagine any other writer of cliched romances, pondering questions like 'what makes a bully, a bully?', 'how do they pick their victims?', 'why do they suffer from the psychological compulsion to prey on someone weaker than them?'.
It was informative in many ways and definitely not just another romance novel out there, that you devour like a piece of cotton candy and forget about.

A year later, I'm back to Lisa Kleypas for some good old-fashioned romance because that's what my holiday mood wants. And this fine lady impresses me once again.

I don't want to write out a summary of the book now because the blurb is more than enough to provide the reader with a brief overview.

What I want to do instead is heap praise on Lisa Kleypas for particular reasons, some of which have very little to do with a regular reader's enjoyment of a romance novel.

Let me list them one by one:-

i)Kleypas does not stick to mere stereotypes. Mind you, I'm not saying she steers clear of them but she does rack her brain to come up with something new and interesting and doesn't take the easy way out by improving on or recycle existing material.
Even the lovemaking scenes are original(or I think so) and not various imitations of the ones we've read over and over again.

ii)I thank her for having the good sense to do her research on British India even if few paragraphs of the book are devoted to it.
Most historical romance novels more intent on reflecting the anti-India sentiments among the British just to cater to the stereotypical notions held by the uninformed. But in doing so they portray a very untrue picture of that particular period.

iii)I applaud her on the way she throws light on the barbarity of the custom of sati in India and equates it to the abuse inflicted on a helpless wife by her English husband. Women, irrespective of which nation or culture they belong to, are always victimized and even the so-called advanced civilizations/cultures openly practise misogyny.

"How little a woman's life was valued in so many cultures. Even in this one, supposedly so modern and enlightened."

That is a brave thing to say Ms Kleypas. I think few citizens of first world countries would make such a candid admission.
Another quite well-known writer of contemporary romances [*cough* Jill Shalvis *cough*] once wrote a dialogue which goes along the lines of 'Jesus your fiance bought you a ring with a stone larger than a third world country!'.
First of all a third world country's being a third world country has nothing to do with size. It's more about the socio-economic status of the majority of its population.
Very shallow. Very stupid. Very offensive.

Authors like Lisa Kleypas make me hold out hope for this genre which specimens like the author mentioned above, systematically destroy.

iv)The female lead dares to find an alternative life for herself after the death of her husband. Despite being financially inadequate she donates to the poor, the underprivileged and considers their welfare her priority.
Charity rings true only when you have the heart to give away even when you have nothing. Kleypas understands this very well for which I'm glad.

v)Adoption. We prefer to adopt children with the best complexion, best cuteness quotient and analyze the DNA he/she maybe blessed with a thousand times before taking the plunge. But what about the children of the less fortunate, the despised?
Do we not shove them away without a second thought?
But Kleypas' heroine does not. She opens her arms wide for the son of a convict, one who has been hanged moreover, and loves him as a son.

So my enjoyment of this book was considerably influenced by my personal feelings and opinions about certain things.

Why do I still want to deduct a star from it then?
Some bits of the plot seemed far-fetched and I don't think this kind of a relationship can withstand the test of time.
But oh God I forgot this is a romance novel. Here I'm not supposed to question the legitimacy of even the most preposterous form of happily ever after.
Final rating:- 4.5 stars.

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