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Stranger, by Megan Hart

Stranger

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I pay strangers to sleep with me. I have my reasons….

But they’re not the ones you’d expect.

For starters, I’m a funeral director taking over my dad’s business. Not exactly the kind of person you’d expect to fork over cash for the lust and urgency only live skin-to-skin contact can create. Looking at me, you wouldn’t have a clue I carry this little secret so close it creases up like the folds of a fan. Tight. Personal. Ready to unravel in the heat of the moment.

Unsurprisingly, my line of work brings me face-to-face with loss. So I decided long ago that paying for sex would be one of the best (and arousing) ways to save myself from the one thing that would eventually cut far too deep.

But Sam was a mistake. Literally. I signed on to “pick up” a stranger at a bar, but took Sam home instead. And now that I’ve felt his heat, his sweat and everything else, can I really go back to impersonal?

Let’s just hope he never finds out about my other life….

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I expected a lot from this book. I have read two other books by Megan hart and really loved them. She is very good with smut but her stories never lack emotions and sensitivity. So when I read the synopsis of Stranger, I was excited to read it. But I ended up not really convinced by the story.

Now, at the time I read Stranger, I was traveling, which is not the best way to read a book since I couldn’t really sit down and read and was too tired to read when I had the time. But I don’t think t’s the only reason why Stranger left me a little disappointed.

“I was often alone, but tonight for the first time in as long as I could think, I was also lonely.”

I didn’t really connect with Grace. She was very grim and her attitude toward everything and everybody was very cold and distant. In a way it makes sense and goes perfectly with her character. She doesn’t want people to get too close to her. She’s afraid of getting attached and hurting when the people she cares for leave her. Like I said, it makes sense. But it also ended up making her not very likable to me because, like the other character in the book, I felt like I couldn’t really know her. It also made her very lonely.

“I wasn’t afraid of going. I was afraid of being left behind.”

So when she meets Sam, she is forced to face her fears but even then, her whole attitude bothered me. Mainly because I liked Sam and was rooting for him and the only way she finds to distract herself from thinking too much about Sam was to screw Jack (the escort she was supposed to meet the night she met and hooked up with Sam). This whole part where she was seeing Jack really irritated me. When they started getting “attached” to each other, I was really annoyed with her.

“I like the sounds you make, and the way your nails feel in my back when I’m fucking you hard. The way you like it.” He was not fucking me hard. He was doing it slow, each thrust in and out smooth and long. Thorough. 
“You make them all come,” I tried to say, though the words got garbled by a moan. 
“Yeah, I make them all come.” Jack bent to nibble at my shoulder and throat as he moved inside me. He slid a hand between us to give me the pressure I needed. 
“Like me…” I was tipping, fast, and my nails found his back. Jack hissed and thrust harder. I came, electric. He groaned against me and shivered. I relaxed my fingers and smoothed them over the small ridges I’d left in his skin. “Not like you,” Jack whispered into my ear, but I pretended not to hear.

Jack wasn’t a bad guy really. He was actually quite likable and I really liked his dirty mouth, but at some point he was more present in the story than Sam was and I even wondered if I had read the blurb wrong and the story was really about Jack and Grace instead of Sam and Grace. That’s what annoyed me the most I think.Jack’s characters only annoyed me because I didn’t want him to have something going on with Grace and at some point in the story, it was like they had a relationship.

With that said, I don’t think the book or the story is bad. I just think it wasn’t for me or that I didn’t read it in the “good” conditions. The whole Six Feet Under mood kind of depressed me in the end because all this end of life atmosphere kind of reflected Grace’s life. She seemed a little stuck in her own life when she is still young and has her life in front of her and I thought that’s what was so sad about her. She lives her life always running away from any kind of connection because she is so afraid to hurt.

“If you’d known back then that someday you’d be sitting here like this, getting ready to bury her”, I asked, “would you still have married her? Even knowing one day you’d have to live without her?”

Grace’s family (especially her father and sister) didn’t do it for me at all. They just weren’t very likable to me. The only characters I really liked were Grace’s intern, Jared, Jack and Sam.

What I did like was that Grace was really into her job. She had a purpose and really wanted to make a difference to the people she was helping. Also, the way she describes her job makes you understand a lot of things about this line of work and it broke most stereotypes one can have about it.

“I know many people think what I do is morbid. Maybe even creepy. Few understand the purpose of a funeral director in not to take care of the dead, though that’s a part of it. My job is to care for those whose lives stutter in the face of their grief. To make the horrible task of saying goodbye as easy as it can never be.”

Sam I really liked too. He was the light to Grace’s darkness, and he represented the hope and possibilities that Grace could not handle in her life. He made me laugh a lot with his goofiness. He wasn’t just that though. Sam had quite some issues to work on and I liked that he wasn’t there just as Grace’s wake up call, but had to figure out stuff for himself too. He also made me squirm quite a bit. After all, there is quite a bit of smut in this book and Sam was a very talented character in that regard.

“I’m a big boy.” As if I cold forget.
“Good night, Sam.”
He sighed. “Won’t even throw me a bone?”
“I can’t do that. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve got one, anyway.” And laughing evilly, giving me a mental image again of him naked and erect, he hung up. Dammit.”

I don’t keep such a good memory of Stranger. Maybe I’ll give it a second chance in the future, because I did like Sam and Jack’s characters and how they “changed” Grace.

“Before you, I was so afraid of being unable to live without someone, I could never live with someone.”

But even though I didn’t like this book as much as Broken or Indecent Experiment, I’ll read more of Megan Hart’s work. I think Stranger was just a bump in the road for me when it comes to her writing and I hope she proves me right in the future.

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