Sojourn With a Stranger – by Keta Diablo
I’ve loved historical romance since I was a teen gobbling up Regency Romances by the truckload. I’ve always been especially fond of those set in colonial America, Civil War era, or the old west. Humans are passionate beings, no matter what time period they lived in, but there is something about smoldering sensuality set against a backdrop of polite, formal language and voluminous clothing that just does it for me.
Raine Brinsley is in a sadly all-too-common situation for young women in the late nineteenth century. Both of her parents have died at sea, her meager family savings gone with them. She hopes to earn enough money working as a servant in a wealthy Norfolk, VA home to pay for the journey back to Maine, and her only surviving relative, an elderly grandfather. At a servants wages, it will take her years to save enough for the voyage, so when the manor’s owner, wealthy and attractive Derek Stafford, makes her a very indecent proposal, she accepts it.
Derek Stafford needs an heir. His father has made it very clear that neither he nor his brother will inherit a dime unless they produce a male offspring, and Derek loves Stafford Manor and his lifestyle too much to take the threat of impoverishment lightly. He’s determined to never marry again after watching his wife lose her sanity, dealing with stillbirth and miscarriage, to the point of her suicide. Raine seems to be the perfect solution.
I know, Derek sounds like a horrible cad. He isn’t. There are many scenes with his point of view and the reader can see he is a man who, under the stress of loss, family pressure, and lust, makes a very bad decision. Derek realizes this too, and breaks off the deal with Raine, paying her the full amount and leaving her in peace so he can regain his sense of ethics aboard one of his shipping vessels. The only problem is that he has left Raine pregnant, and there is someone afoot with deadly intentions.
Sojourn With A Stranger has a slightly gothic air with ghosts, and witches of the tea-leaf reading, herbal-potion brewing kind. I loved how the paranormal aspects of the book were in keeping with the historical time period. The presence of bibles and laying-on-of-hands healing, the witchy midwife in the woods, the poltergeists of those wronged give the book that gothic touch I so loved. There are some heavy reveals, and I wish that the bad-guy had not been outed so early in the novel. It would have added greatly to the suspense if a trail of bread-crumb clues had led to the discovery later in the book. In spite of all this I really enjoyed the novel and found it difficult to put down. Four stars and well worth adding to your wish list.
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