Before I tell you about this novel (which, yes, is being advertised on this site, but I wanted to read it well before the advertising started), I want to tell you how I discovered author Megan Hart. I tend to browse Amazon...oh, quite obsessively. I search memoir and erotica and other topics I'm interested in, and that's how I came across the upcoming release of Hart's first Harlequin Spice novel, Dirty. She was offering readers of her Amazon blog free stuff, so I sent in my address, and got everything from postcards to a bookmark to a teabag! I thought that was so awesome.
I went on to buy Dirty and Tempted but, as I told her, for some reason, didn't finish them. Mind you, I probably only finish about a quarter of the books I start, in part a hazard of getting tons of free books and buying many more of them, so unless something immediately captures my interest, there is usually something new waiting in the wings. I liked her premises, like her dirty-minded female characters who are bold and adventurous and far from "romance novel" types. But when I read the premise of Stranger, about a woman who hires men for sex, I had a feeling this one would be the one I'd devour, and I was right.
What I also like about Megan is that she blogs and vlogs, and also offers excerpts on her site and on Amazon. She's consistent, her site is very easy to navigate, she posts fun content as well as contests, she's also doing shorter fiction and just makes it easy to get information on her, which I think is key. Everything you might need to know about her and her books that she wants to share is right there; you don't have to hunt around to find out what kinds of books she writes or what they're about.
I think this is good business, and have taken a page from her and asked Cleis to start putting up the Tables of Contents for my books on Amazon. Megan is definitely doing everything you should do, in my opinion, to promote her books, and seems like she's having fun with it!
Anyway, onto Stranger, which Megan was cool enough to let me know was nestled against my book Spanked, which was under Lauren Dane's Undercover, which I'm reading now, on Amazon's erotica bestseller list:
There are some spoilers in this review. Stranger, is an action-packed, sexy, emotional romance that tears up the pages with heat while also telling a touching love story. Set in the unusual business of a family funeral home, protagonist Grace prefers men she pays for rather than ones she picks up randomly. When wires get crossed and she screws stranger Sam at a hotel, not realizing he's not the gentleman she's hired, she shrugs it off, until they meet again, when she's called to deal with Sam's father's death. Meanwhile, despite the lingering passion between them, she continues to see Jack, the man she was supposed to have hired, schooling him in the ways of doing his new job and making a new friend...who she happens to have sizzling sex with.
Yet Sam keeps calling, and calling and calling, and eventually she cannot resist. Grace's resistance to anything approximating a real relationship even as part of her longs for just that. She's a strong, proud businesswoman on the outside, trying to climb out from under her father's shadow, but she gets off (literally and figuratively) on being able to hire men at her whim. While it's clear to the reader that she yearns for something more, she isn't so sure. Hart puts plenty of explicit scenes here, and doesn't try to come up a generic happy ending; I like that she created a character who goes against everything women are "supposed" to do, and she certainly gets gossiped about, even by her own family.
She stands up for herself and her desires, both to her family, her employees, and her lover, and yet even the scenes with the rentboys, as she at one point calls them, aren't cold and clinical, as evidenced by the fact that she continues to be friends with the main man she's seen. That in a small town in Pennsylvania such a service would be available is a bit unrealistic, but still, wouldn't it be great if it were? Hart challenges those who'd think that only men pay for sex, yet also gives Grace enough of a heart to allow one special man to enter it, even if it's not always smooth sailing for them. Stranger has a unique, hot premise that Hart delivers on fully, with well-rounded characters, details about the funeral home industry, and enough passionate trysts (purchased and not) to warm up your winter nights.
Next up is my interview with Megan which inaugurates my hopefully weekly author Q&A series here on Lusty Lady! (I had originally planned to post this last week, but time got away from me, so here we are.)
And here's the book trailer for Stranger: