More Than a Stranger by Erin Knightley

June 29, 2012

Three's a crowd
More Than a Stranger is Erin Knightley's debut novel and it is a lovely entree into Romanceland.  The book has two charming main characters with a few interesting secondaries thrown in.

The beginning of this book kept me engrossed.  I even chuckled at Evie's first letter to Benedict.  I loved the correspondence between the two teenage protagonist/love-buds, and I would have enjoyed more of a glimpse into that background.  But, twas not to be, because our hero, who by the way is awfully young...our hero must go off and be a spy.  Yep, he must spy for his country and cut all ties with every one including our heroine, Evie.  So, Evie, is heartbroken at 15/16.  And, then years later he is on the run and decides to hide out at his friend, Richard, country home.  Well, you see Richard is Evie's brother and much to the surprise of Richard and our hero, Benedict, the family is still there at the country home.  So, even though Benedict is struck numb by Evie's beauty, he decides to lie to her and pretend he is someone else and not the person who wrote all those letters years ago.

Now, some of this book I really liked.  I liked that Evie fell in love with Benedict, Benedict the spy, not Benedict the letter writer.  And, I loved that Benedict had some major guilt feelings about all of the lies he was telling just so he could remain close to Evie.  They had a sweet romance.  However, where this book fell short for me was that even though there should have been all of this tension it was for the wrong reason.  Oh sure, there was all the tension of Benedict's lies, but there was no love/sexual tension between Evie and Benedict.  At least I didn't feel any.  And, I think some of that might have been due to Richard.

Yes, Richard the brother.  Richard is Benedict's best friend and all through the book he is there.  He's like a third wheel; whenever Benedict and Evie are together, there's Richard.  I don't have anything against males bonding; I like that in books.  However, the very strong friendship bond between Richard and Benedict was more apparent to me than the growing love between Evie and Benedict.

And, while we are talking about Benedict, once again we have a spy who makes me wonder how England survived as long as it did.  He's rather ineffectual as a spy, in my opinion.

There is a character in this book who I thought had possibilities and that was the listens-at-keyholes Beatrice.  I thought she was delightful. In fact, the family in this story seems like a real family and when they were in the book I enjoyed it.  What kept this book from being extraordinary was the romance - Benedict and Evie just didn't connect for me.  Having said all that, I do believe Ms. Knightley has possibilities, and I will be picking up her next work. 

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Sweet


nath said...

Hi Kay :)

I've been following your blog for a while and really enjoy it. I agree with your grade for this book. I thought it was a very good effort for a debut novel. Loved the relationship between Benedict and Evie and you're right, it was nice that Evie fell in love with Benedict the spy and not the letter writer.

I thought there was a lot of tension in it actually. Evie and Benedict were clearly attracted to each other and were stepping around each other.

What didn't work for me was the second half of the book when it became more focused on the "intrigue."

SidneyKay said...

Nath, thanks. I am looking forward to more by Ms. Knightley, good start. Nothing better than a debut author who is promising. Isn't it interesting the different aspects of books that we love and/or don't love so much...but still like the work overall.

nath said...

Definitively agree :) I think it's because stories are so layered. That's the beauty of it.

Tracy said...

Good review, Kay. I really loved the correspondence in the first part of the book and wish we could have seen more of it throughout - maybe letters that had actually been sent.

The ending wasn't my favorite but I liked the writing and will be reading the next book by this author. Maybe we'll get lucky and it will have Beatrice as the heroine. :)