Monday, 12 March 2018
#CBR10 Book 18: "Hello Stranger" by Lisa Kleypas
Rating: 3 stars
Doctor Garrett Gibson is the only female physician in England, trained in France and licenced before they got around to changing the rules so other women couldn't follow her example. She has a good job, working as a staff physician at Winterborne's department store. She also does pro bono work in the poorer parts of town, and it's on her way home from one of these jobs that she finds herself accosted by three thugs. While she's been trained in self defence, things start take a turn for the serious until Ethan Ransom shows up to lend a hand. The former Scotland Yard detective has been keeping an eye on Garrett, worried that someone would indeed attack her and overwhelm her. He clams her defencive moves are far too mannered, and offers to teach her to fight dirty, so she can properly defend herself in future.
Ethan Ransom has been attracted to the intelligent Dr. Gibson for months, but working in a secret branch of the government, he can't allow himself to get attached to anyone - his job is too dangerous. Yet he can't really stay away from her, and when he ends up in a near-death situation, Dr Gibson needs to use all of her skills to patch him back together again. Ethan also needs to swallow his resentment of his Ravenel relatives, so he and Garrett have somewhere to lay low while the people who want him dead are brought to justice.
I was so excited when it was announced that Lisa Kleypas was returning to historicals, and yet with each book, I get a bit more disappointed, because her stories just aren't up to the standards of her earlier historicals. I had high hopes for Dr Gibson's book, mainly because she's been such an interesting supporting character in two of the other books in the series. I wasn't as thrilled by the prospect of Ethan Ransom (clearly related to the Ravenels in some way, as he has the tell-tale eyes of most of the family members) being the hero, as his presence in the latter half of Devil in Spring suggested that it would involve shady government conspiracies (that part being my least favourite subplot of said book) of some sort, and I wasn't wrong. Ethan is basically working for an early version of the Secret Service, but some of his superiors are corrupt (seriously, the villain in this book isn't described as having an elaborate moustache he can twirl, but he might has well have had), and since Ethan wants to blow the whistle on them, he needs to be killed. SPOILER - he doesn't die.
What didn't work for me in this book:
- The stupid government conspiracy subplot and the nefarious scheme to have Ethan killed
- Ethan's "Irish brogue" - despite the fact that he was born and raised in London. I don't care how Irish his mother was, he would not have had a full-on Irish lilt, so that was just dumb
- The complete lack of time spent developing Ethan and Garrett's relationship. They've only met a couple of times before the start of this book. Then it's established that Ethan has pretty much been stalking Dr. Gibson every Monday when she does her charity work in the rough parts of town, because he fancies her, but considers her way too good for him (for reasons). Then they have one sparring session and go on one date, before they have a one-night-stand and suddenly they love each other passionately. Not very satisfying at all, in what is supposed to be a ROMANCE.
- The stupid villain. He was way over the top.
- Ethan's "Oriental" training, both in martial arts and those of the bedroom - in India. Elyse over on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books says it much better than I ever could. Thankfully, Lisa Kleypas apologised very eloquently and I suspect she will do better in future.
What I did like:
- Doctor Gibson's medical expertise. Kleypas has clearly done her research here and the bits where Garrett gets to ply her trade are excellent.
- West Ravenel - charming, funny and very likable supporting character. To me, he improved every scene he was in, and I desperately hope that his book (the next one coming up) is better. It won't take much.
I don't see myself completely abandoning this series. Lisa Kleypas has written so many good novels in the past that I'll keep reading these books in the hopes that she'll strike gold once more with one of them. I really hope Avon hires a better cover designer, though.
Judging a book by its cover: I have ranted before about the awfulness of the covers for Lisa Kleypas' Ravenel series, but I think we may have hit a new low. There is NOTHING period appropriate about this contemporary monstrosity of a ball gown. It shows WAY too much skin for anything worn by anyone respectable in the 19th Century. Then there's the incredibly lurid pink background - I just can't with this cover. I saw a theory online that the reason they're using the wholly period-inappropriate dresses are to trick Kleypas' contemporary fans into picking the books up - well, they're going to be disappointed when they find themselves reading a Victorian historical.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.