Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas Blog Tour

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of an unconventional beauty who finds passion with the spy who can’t resist her.

A woman who defies her time

Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett's skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he's ever known.

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Book 4
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He heard her muffled chuckle. She continued to lean against him while the trio of constables expressed sympathy for the unfortunate patient. Eventually the men departed with a chorus of hearty farewells. Ethan discovered that his other arm had stolen around Garrett. Making himself let go of her was like trying to uncoil a steel spring.

“You should go up to your father now,” he said with difficulty.

“Eliza will look after him while I take a few minutes to show you some slides. I have insect wings... pollen grains... flower petals... What would you like to see?”

“The inside of a hansom cab,” he said softly. “I can’t be alone with you, darlin’.”

Garrett touched the edges of his vest, fingers clamping on the thin leather. “Ethan.” A blush rose in her face, like light glowing through pink frosted glass. “I don’t want to end this. We... we could meet in secret, now and then. No one would have to know. We would make no claims on each other. We’ll just... do as we please.”

The way she fumbled with the words, so unlike her usual precise way of speaking, devastated Ethan. He could only guess what it cost her to lay open her pride like this. He wasn’t certain what she was offering, or even if she knew. Not that it mattered. He wanted, craved, needed anything she was willing to give. But he had to make her understand that it was impossible. And even if it were, the idea was beneath her.

“Have you had that kind of arrangement with a man before?” he brought himself to ask.

Her eyes were the green of deep summer and lush growing things. “I’m a woman who makes her own decisions and handles the consequences.”

“That means no,” Ethan said softly. At her silence, he continued, “You’d be risking your reputation. Your career.”

“Believe me, I understand that better than you.”

“Have you ever shared a bed with a man? Even once?”

“Why is that relevant?”

Her evasive response sent a pleasure-pang down to the pit of his stomach. “That means no,” he said again, his voice even softer than before. He took a slow breath, trying to steady himself, while his blood sang with the knowledge that she’d been waiting for him. She was meant to be his. God, he wanted her beyond any reckoning of earth or heaven. But her well-being mattered a thousand times more than his own desires.

“Garrett... I’m a man full o’ trouble. When I vowed to let nothing harm you, I included myself on that list.”

A frown crimped her forehead. She closed her grip on his vest until her fists were tight as pine knots. “I’m not afraid of you, or your trouble.” Her green eyes were narrowed and intent as she tugged him closer. “Kiss me,” she urged in a whisper.

“I have to go,” he said shortly, and pulled back while he was still able.

But Garrett moved with him, her hands reaching up to grip his head on either side, the way he’d taught her at Baujart’s. The strength of her fingers electrified him.

“Kiss me,” she commanded, “or I’ll break your nose.”

The threat startled a ragged laugh from him. He shook his head as he looked at her, this fearsomely capable woman who loved geese and was afraid of spaghetti, and could either wield a scalpel in a complex surgical procedure or use it as a throwing-knife.

There had always been a cold streak in him, but he couldn’t seem to find it now, when he needed it most. He was breaking apart inside. He would never be the same after this.

“Christ, you’ve ruined me,” he whispered.

His arms went around her, one hand gripping the heavy silken mass of her braided chignon. She guided his head down, and he lost the battle, all his will vanquished as he began to kiss her as if the world were about to end.

For him, it was.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Hello Stranger is the fourth installment of The Ravenels series and can most certainly be read as a standalone. While I have read the majority of Lisa Kleypas's backlist, I had not read any of this series, and I had absolutely no difficulty falling into the story. I had no confusion reading this as a standalone and look forward to going back to book one and working my way through the series.

Hello Stranger starts off with a thrilling scene, drawing the reader into the story from word one in an innovated way. Our hero and heroine have had previous encounters. However, since this was the first I've read, I don't feel short-changed with how Kleypas released the previous information about their encounters without doing an info-dump.

Garrett Gibson is the first female doctor in England, in a time when women were not seen in the same light as men. She was logical, non-emotional, no-nonsense, but written in a manner that does not make her seem cold. I immediately identified with Garrett, which had me emotionally invested in the character and the journey. I appreciated that Hello Stranger didn't concentrate on balls and trapping a man in the marriage mart, befitting the characterization.

Ethan Ransom is an interesting character, with a mysterious backstory. He's as practical and efficient as the doctor but has a red-blooded, passionate streak. Trained to do the jobs in which most would not succeed, Ransom tries and fails to disconnect from his humanity.

Garrett and Ransom are drawn together, bringing out portions of human nature they both suppress due to their professions. Their romance felt real, with a slow-build, high tension, and sizzling passion unfolding organically throughout the story.

They're tested, both as a couple, but most certainly by profession, in a manner that allows the reader to see Garrett's medical knowledge. The reader can see that Garrett is not a damsel in distress throughout the majority of the book – not only will she protect herself, she is driven to care for others. The depth in which the author goes to show the medical limitations of the time, some readers may be drawn to skim this portion – however, I was intrigued by both the medical angle, as well as how women in Garrett's profession were treated.

There is a small side cast of characters, which I'm sure are past narrators. However, the reader gets to meet West, who most certainly will be the hero of the next installment. I enjoyed him immensely, and all the foreshadowing made me hungry from West's book.

My favorite part of the entire novel was the instant familial connection Ransom and West shared. Their interplay was amusing and heartwarming. It was as if West brought out another side to Ransom – a sarcastic and witty side that brought levity to an otherwise darker novel, and this transferred over into how they both interacted with Garrett.

Here are two quotes from the beginning of the novel that had me thoroughly entertained, and will also give a glimpse into Garrett's character.

You've been all work and no play for much too long. And then one night a mysterious and handsome man appears out of the shadows, fending off attackers on your behalf–"

"That part was annoying," Garrett interrupted. "I was doing quite well at being my own hero until he jumped in."

Helen's lips curved. "Still... it must have been a little flattering."

"This man is a patient," Garrett told the cookmaid, removing the posy of violets from the buttonhole of her walking jacket before handing the garment to her. "I've brought him here for a consultation – please see that we're not disturbed."

"Consultation for what?" the maid asked slyly, her gaze traveling from Ethan's head to his toes, and back up again. "'E don't look all that peaked to me."

Garrett's brows lowered. "You know better than to comment on a patient's appearance."

Leaning toward her, the cookmaid said in a stage whisper, "I meant to say I 'opes you can do something for this poor, sickly wreck of a man."

Ever since the Downton Abbey TV show, I’ve developed a new appreciation for historical romances. So, it comes as no surprise to anyone that Lisa Kleypas is hands down one of my favorite historical romance authors! Although, I don’t read very many historical romances, but Kleypas always has a way of sucking me into the beauty of ball gowns, corsets, and handsome suitors. I’m especially fond of her Wallflower and Hathaway series, which made reading The Ravenels a no brainer.

Hello Stranger is the fourth installment in The Ravenels series. These books can all be read together or as a standalone. Having read the three previous books, I personally enjoyed reading them in order, but they’re not necessary to enjoy Hello Stranger. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like Hello Stranger, but I ended up loving Dr. Garett Gibson and Ethan Ransom’s story more than I thought I would! Garett is such a strong independent woman and I easily found myself falling for Ethan’s character! Plus, together they were the perfect match for one another. Also, I always appreciate how previous characters pop back up throughout the series! I just can’t get enough of the whole Ravenel family and I can’t wait to see what Kleypas has in store for us next!

Five stars for Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas! I’ll be counting down the months for her to once again take me back to the streets of London in the Victorian era!

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Hello Stranger (The Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas to read and review for this tour.

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