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Tuesday, 13 March 2007

'The Perfect Stranger' by Alison Kent



This is a republished review designed to entice you to enter the contest to win a copy. Scroll down to do so!
I am a big Alison Kent fan. So you can imagine my sheer delight when I opened a package yesterday to find an ARC of ‘The Perfect Stranger’ inside (I was jumping up and down like an insane kangaroo and screeching like a banshee). Now I have only been acquainted with the Brava line over the internet for about a year now as it is not available in most bookstores here (we Irish are so deprived). So seeing as the first few books in Kent’s SG-5 series are currently en route from Amazon, I decide to wait until I had those read before I opened ‘The Perfect Stranger’. That didn’t work. At about midnight last night, I switched on my light and began to read, not stopping until I had the last page read.

The hero of ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is Jack Briggs, a pilot working for the Smithson Engineering crew on their project on the South American island of San Torisco. They are building a road through the mountains of this dictatorship, whose ruler, Carlos Sabastiano, is not as peaceful as he would like people to think. Jack is kidnapped by a World Relief Team leader, Jillian Endicott, who is on a recon mission which requires a pilot. Together they embark on a trek through the jungle of San Torisco, facing various dangerous obstacles along the way to the point where Jack can fly Jillian and her cargo to safety.

‘The Perfect Stranger’ was littered with good points for me but I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum.

First off, the plot. Fantastic! ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is a romantic suspense, and there are so many twists and turns that make it the best romantic suspense I’ve read in a while. I was kept on the edge of my seat (well, bed) throughout this book. And every surprise Kent through at me while I was reading contributed to what a great book this is. There was great flow in ‘The Perfect Stranger’. It never occurred to me to stop reading because the pace was fast, and the author kept me entranced. None of the twists seemed out of place or contrived or ridiculous. I was swept along for the ride.

Besides the suspense there was humour. Humour in the way Jillian would get ones over on Jack, humour in their banter, the witty replies. Humour in the situations Jack got himself into (especially with his clothes off). And it did provide some much-needed light relief in what is prominently a serious novel

It is clear that Kent did her research for this book. San Torisco is fictional, of course, but the issues raised in the book like political corruption and the ancient traditions like Voodoo ceremonies are the same as those of so many South American dictatorships. I was transported to San Torisco while reading. I could taste the heat, feel my arms brushing aside the foliage, I felt as if I myself was present at the captivating Voodoo ceremony. The author’s description of the San Torisco jungle was so vivid that now all I really want to do is take a trip out to South America and get lost in one of the magnificent jungles.

When you pick up any Alison Kent novel you are always guaranteed three things, one of which is real characters. Something which I found even in her Harlequin novels is real characters. They’re not perfect. They have pasts. They sweat, they urinate, they make mistakes. And I always think this all makes for a stronger book. This is certainly the case is ‘The Perfect Stranger’. Jack has a past. He lost his wife and son in a terrible accident. And when they were alive he wasn’t the perfect husband and father. He can be insensitive towards Jillian, and he can be stubborn too. And I found him irresistible for it.

I seem to be on a roll with great heroines at the moment because I loved Jillian too. She’s a strong, independent woman, which is the description given for heroines in many other authors’ books, but in this case Jillian proves it. She gets herself and Jack out of some pretty sticky situations in the book including escaping from a Voodoo cult. She deals with some of her demons head on, one in particular which many women would rather die than face. It gave me a great respect for Jillian. She has responsibilities as a mother and as a World Relief Team worker. She has to keep her child safe and she does this to the best of her abilities. Of course she makes bad decisions and she’s just as stubborn and insensitive as Jack. But I was still on her side, praying that everything would work out right for her.

Besides great characters, Alison Kent always provides great sexual chemistry and steaming hot sex. The chemistry between Jack and Jillian is there from the very beginning, even before Jack has laid eyes on Jillian’s form. The two have an immediate connection. The quick-witted banter they engage in is full of underlying sexual tension. And try as they might to avoid it, Jack and Jillian finally give in, and I felt the relief that they felt.

Even in Kent’s Harlequin romance novels, she has always pushed the boundaries when it comes to sex. The love scenes are always that bit spicier that those in her fellow authors’ books, the passion that bit more raw. I’m guessing that Brava gives a little more room for sexual exploration as the sex in ‘The Perfect Stranger’ is hotter than I can say, much more basic than other romance novels. You wouldn’t want to read this book in a public place, you could be arrested. What I really loved was that the author doesn’t try to pretty it up. The sex is what it is. She uses coarse language to describe the acts making it all seem more, yes I’m using that word again, real. None of the sex scenes seem to be gratuitous, which shows the skill of Alison Kent as making sex scenes in erotic romance not seem gratuitous is tough. The sex is fundamental in the developing relationship between Jack and Jillian. The scenes show how much Jillian trusts Jack, and how much Jack wants to give her.

And the sex is vital in showing that these two really are falling in love. Their desperation to be together, to be as close as possible is so evident. My heart broke for them as they knew how impractical it was for them to be together, what with their work and Jillian’s son. I became so involved in their relationship, and prayed that Kent would find some way for them to be.


In terms of bad points I would have to say none. None. None. None.

I loved this book. And I can’t wait until I read the rest of the series and then reread this again. ‘The Perfect Stranger’ had everything I look for in a book and I became so involved with the characters that I think they’ll be on my mind for some time to come.

Please do yourself a favour and pre-order this book here now here. Come April, you will be very happy.

Rating: 44/50 (highest so far!)

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5 comments:

Caffey said...

Oh I too love Alison Kent's books and this is one I won't miss either. I've read this series, have a few to catch up with but have them waiting to read! I started reading Alison's when she was writing Blaze books and I followed her to when she started to write for Brava too! Congrats on the nice surprise from Alison!

DeeandDee said...

I've never read Kent, but I have to say I loved, "they urinate" I was laughing out loud and my kids thought I was nuts. Great review. I agree, sometimes, you just love a book, and a FGSF must ensue.

Kristie (J) said...

I really want to try her single title books, but I'm still waiting for them to come out in MM instead of the trade size. Here in Canada, trade size are about $20!!

Caffey said...

I'd recommend deeanddee to start right in the begining with her series and any of her single titles. I even thought her Blaze, THE SWEETEST TABOO was the best written!

I think Brava has ebooks? Maybe check Fictionwise? I haven't seen any of these in this series going to MM PB, Sorry.

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