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Book CoverC2’s review of When a Stranger Loves Me (Pembroke Palace Series, Book 3) by Julianne MacLean
Historical romance released by Avon 27 Jan 09

I should say before I start my review that I picked this book up by mistake. I confused the author with someone else. As it turns out, Ms. MacLean is new to me. But I love me a good amnesia plot so my faulty memory didn’t bother me too much. Onward!

Lady Chelsea Campion was exiled to the Jersey Islands after a scandalous elopement left her ruined in the eyes of society. She has made the most of her seclusion by indulging in her passion for writing – she aspires to be published someday. In the meantime, she lives quietly with her mother (and brother and sister-in-law, when they are in residence), takes long walks along the beach and writes as much as she can.

As the book begins, Lady Chelsea’s peace is beginning to crack around the edges. She has just received a letter from a creepy, older hygiene-challenged cousin informing her that, since apparently her brother and his wife are not capable of producing an heir, he will marry her and thereby allow the earldom to remain in late father’s bloodline by passing through her. She has no intention of marrying the creepy cousin and takes a walk along the beach to think. During her beach stroll, she finds a gold watch that looks new and still works. Curious, she investigates a nearby sea cave and finds a naked, wounded, and unconscious man. Like any wise young miss, she checks out his boy bits before running for help.

The doctor is called in to patch up the man’s wounds and provide instructions for his care. Chelsea volunteers to sit with him, since he needs to be watched in case he regains consciousness. Her mother protests but eventually gives in after Chelsea asks her how it would be possible for her to be more ruined than she already is.

The stranger awakens and Chelsea discovers that he has no memory of his life or identity. He doesn’t remember how he came to be near the Jersey Islands or how he ended up naked in the sea cave. As he recovers from his wounds, Chelsea comes up with an idea to solve the problem of the creepy cousin (her mother says it is her family duty to marry him, whether she wants to or not).

Chelsea goes to her brother to discuss her scheme. She thinks she should seduce the stranger and get pregnant. She would then give the child to her brother and his wife to raise as their own – instant heir! This would eliminate the need for her to marry the creepy cousin and remove him from their lives completely, since he would no longer be her brother’s heir. Her brother very reluctantly agrees.

And so the seduction begins. As you might imagine, he isn’t unwilling. Over the following weeks, the handsome stranger’s health improves but his memory remains blank. “Jack” (well, he can’t just be “Hey, you”, after all) and Chelsea continue to spend time together – in bed and out – taking walks on the beach and picnicking on the grounds. He discovers he has a talent for sketching and spends time doing that while she writes nearby. But clouds hover on the horizon…

The information Chelsea’s family sent to the London newspapers after they found him has been seen by Jack’s family. His brothers have been looking for him (a side note: Oh noes! I have stumbled into the middle of a series!!). When his oldest brother and sister-in-law arrive, he discovers his name is Blake and he is the son of a duke! His father has told his sons they all must marry before Christmas (it’s early summer in this book) or they will lose their livelihoods. All his wealth will go to a horticultural society. His brother has come to take him back to the family seat.

Just before his brother arrived, Blake overheard an argument between Chelsea and her mother. He mother was insisting that Chelsea go to his bed immediately, since it was her fertile time (ewwwww) and do her best to get pregnant. He confronted her about the plot, of course, and a shouting match between them brought her brother in to defend her. Punches were thrown but before conclusions could be reached, the brother’s arrival was announced.

Since they needed to leave immediately, Blake insisted on Chelsea accompanying them. He wanted to keep an eye on her until she it was known whether or not she was pregnant. He refused to go along with any part of her scheme to pass off a child as her brother’s.

Soon after arriving in at the family home, some visitors arrive. Blake’s wife (?!) and her brother also saw news of a gentleman washing ashore after a storm and have tracked them back to the estate. Blake explains that he has no memory of anything that happened before and tries to reacquaint himself with his new wife (he was lost at sea on their wedding night) and brother-in-law.

Over the next few days, Chelsea finds out whether or not she is pregnant, star-crossed lovers are acknowledged, a murder attempt is revealed and a drug smuggling enterprise is uncovered.

All in all, an enjoyable read – a bit too much info-dump but it was a necessary evil, I suppose, for those new to the series (like me). Still, picking up this book was a happy accident and now I’ll have to pick up the first two in the series to get up to speed. If you enjoy old-school romances and amnesia stories, try it!

csquareds-icon.jpgGrade: B

I saved his life . . . and I had much to demand in return.
When he washed up on shore, I knew my prayers had been answered, and that I, Lady Chelsea Campion, need no longer fear poverty and heartbreak. To secure my family’s estate, all I needed was a child. Handsome, clearly noble-born, and with no memory of his previous life, the mysterious man was perfect. All I had to do was visit his bedchamber and seduce him. I had expected him to be a skillful, scandalously wonderful lover, but once in his arms I was overcome by something more than mere passion. I had fallen hopelessly, desperately in love.
My plan has gone shockingly awry. But I will not give up a man who makes me feel such wicked ecstasy. No matter his true identity, no matter the secrets he struggles to remember, I will do anything in this world to make this stranger love me.
Read an excerpt HERE.

Other books in the series:

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