Stranger in my Bed

Stranger in my Bed - Julia Keaton My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

Well, I really liked this book. From the cover, wasn’t sure what to expect but so glad I gave it a go! Even though there are a few plot holes and I had questions about them, overall I had no problem getting to the story and finishing it. JK has an uncomplicated yet flowing writing style and had me guessing, for the good part of the book about who the stranger was. I would appreciate more books like this one from her.

Ransom has just come back to his childhood home, now occupied by a new family. The man, Rupert, he suspects cheated the house out of his father in a game of chance, doesn’t really live here since he’s a gambler and a wastrel; just-no-good-at-all sort. Remington Manor is now occupied by his spinster sister and maternal grandmother, who dotes on her ‘dear Rupert’ like the sun rises upon him! Anyway, Ransom made ‘friends’ with the guy and came to the manor to look for papers he believe his father left him before he died. Ransom was out of England at that time, with his mother already dead from childbirth but only came home to find that his older brother had gone off to military and died in a battle. His grieving father has lost the only memory, the Manor house and died too. Now, Ransom wants revenge! He went through all the rooms of the house methodically, save this one, the one where his mother died. He was quite young and can’t bear to remember the event, which was very painful and he witnessed it. Now he’s resolved to search here too. He knows of the secret door and makes good use of it. The room is now definitely occupied and after some guessing, he deduces by the spinster. I found his thought on the ‘spinster sister’ was really funny. Might sound unkind but I laughed nonetheless and was thinking he’ll get the surprise soon enough. Then he finds this small chest, recognizing it as one of their own, hidden in the spinster’s armoire. When he hears footsteps, he grabs it thinking it might hold the papers, and ran for the hidden door. But curiosity won over and he’s tempted to have a look at this spinster sister. And boy, he does get a blow in his stomach because the spinster is not only beautiful but spirited as well and apparently, really mad at her brother. The sister looks nothing like Rupert and when she starts changing her clothes; oh it was good to read... Ransom now wants her!

Melantha knows her brother is a good for nothing. And, Rupert was. Whatever I read from Melantha’s musings, about him and his treatment to her was just awful. He’s irresponsible, selfish in addition to his ‘charming’ wastrel parsona. He has already gone through the family fortune and Melantha’s dowry, which is why she is still unmarried and very possibly, is on her way to become a spinster. Poor girl never even had a season in London because her parents died when she was very young and Rupert never gave a damn about anything but himself. Living with a grandmother who knows she relies for her living on her ‘dear Rupert’ and supports him in everything, all bad and worse and blaming Melantha instead, can’t be a good life. And, trust me, the grandmother made me angry more than once by her treatment of Melantha. She was always, I mean ALWAYS blaming or berating her for things she’d never even done! I can see why Melantha had this lack of confidence and though she stood upto the grandmother sometimes, never really rebelled. Melantha knows this is the only family she has, good or bad and despite everything, she loves her grandmother. But, her brother is another matter entirely. And, now he’s brought a gang of his rakish friends from London to spent time ‘rusticating’ here. Melantha doesn’t like this existence at all and I can’t blame her. She wants to break away, which she does in her diary, writing her most forbidden erotic dreams in it. She knows no one will see them. It’s only her, her grandmother and some servants in the house. They had to let most of the servants go because of their lack of funds. While thinking of these, she was changing her clothes and suddenly realizes the armoire is open and oh my god, the chest is gone! Melantha goes crazy thinking about her hidden diary and who might be reading it now. She searches in vain in some rooms. The house is full of rakes and she can’t very well go about searching in their rooms. What to do now?

When Ransom came back to his room, aching and hard seeing the half-naked Melantha, he can’t but only think of her. Then he opens the chest with a key he already possessed but finds nothing in it. And then, he finds the secret compartment and a book of sort. He was angry already that he didn’t find anything but some stupid feminine diary full of silly prattle. He opens it and leafs through it and ... ‘nipples’ ... whattttttt? Now his attention is thoroughly engaged. He reads through it, getting harder, all the while knowing who wrote this.

From then on, we see the story more from Melantha’s POV. She’s gone insane to find the diary. Meanwhile, she meets some of Rupert’s friends, one while taking a horse ride, a Sir Knightly. Another she met while going through the man’s things. Oh yes, desperate situation calls for desperate measures. She’s decided it must be someone from the gang. She’s already deduced that her somewhat snooping grandmother (this woman was some character I say!) and Rupert himself weren’t the culprits. And then, very tentatively she searched through Knightly’s things but his portmanteau was locked. The next was Lord Blackthorne’s room. She didn’t meet him yet but WTH, who knows what’s in his room. So while she was looking through it, a deep voice jangles her already frayed nerve. I actually loved this scene. Melantha got very distracted by the big, dark and somewhat reserve Lord Blackthorne. The scene was quite funny as the man deems her as a ‘light skirt’ because she was in her night robe and makes insinuations. Even though she’s supposed to be angry, she can’t but think of the moment he almost kissed her ... Almost! The cad! Anyway, after somehow surviving this incident, she decides about no more searching in those rooms. But that leaves her with nothing. Where is the damned diary? She goes nuts thinking some might be reading it to the others even now and mortified, restless. She takes a does of laudanum and tries to get some sleep.

At night, her sleep clogged mind is awakened, feeling there is someone in her room and touching her. Oh god! My modern sensibilities screamed. She wanted to scream too, only to be threatened with exposure since she was naked and bound. And the man tortured her, with pleasure, to make her tell where the documents were. At first, she can’t get what he wants... no easy feat, the way he was going on with her body but soon she remembers the yellowed documents she’d found in the hidden compartment and for the life of her, she can’t remember where she left them. The man comes back the next day and tortures her some more. Melantha is totally jarred by this situation and can’t even realize who it might be. Was it one of the guests or someone else coming through her window since the man leaves through it, too. She already knows he’s the one who stole the diary. Well, in real life, it should be scary and not knowing who’s the man touching me would be undoubtedly gross! But in this story, I don’t know... Even when my mind was questioning things, I liked it. So did Melantha. She liked the way he touches her, never hurting. On the third day they had a spat on something and she screams for help. Rupert and his cronies come to check up on her, finding no one, then Rupert deems that she had a nightmare. I was really pissed the way Rupert and the grandmother showed no concern at all when she kept saying “there was a man in my room”.

On the daytime, she keeps thinking how to resolve this situation. Who’s this man? He doesn’t sound like a servant at all to her. I should’ve been annoyed that she didn’t take a stance or do something about it but later on thought, how? She’s got no help whatsoever from her silly grandmother and the poor excuse of a brother. The man has now bargained with her, he wants to have sex and wants her to participate in it. In return a few pages of her diary. The night she touched him was funny too. It should’ve been sappy but amazingly I liked it. Melantha was a real character, with her own hopes, dreams and vulnerabilities. I liked her immensely. Then on the fifth night (hope I’m right), he came to her and makes crazy love to her. I wasn’t very happy to know that the man was a bit in his cups and Melantha, again, took laudanum for an easy sleep but their whole encounters were very hot. The next night, after they make love, Melantha makes herself ask about the pages. The stranger seemed angry when he threw some of them to her and leaves. And so it goes on, at first it seemed he forgets, then he’d leave the pages before they make love. After sometimes, they didn’t even remember why this liaison had stared in the first place. It went on for weeks, for as long as Rupert’s friends were in the house. I really enjoyed the love scenes because they had something special in them and not just sex; from Melantha of course who was falling for this stranger and the stranger himself, when we get to see his POV and the guilt of what he’s done yet can’t help coming back. The stranger has been a jerk in their first few encounters but afterwards he amended that IMO.

In between, Sir Knightly showed interest in Melantha, which she liked. Lord Blackthorne is ever the broody guy, always seems like studying her. But Melantha thought nothing of it because after the incident in his room, it’s possible his feelings for her isn’t really positive. In daylight, she tries to get through and waits anxiously to be with the stranger at night. One day, she very wistfully tells him that she doesn’t even know his name. The blissful bubbles of aftermath burst as the stranger is tensed and evades her. Then, for some nights he doesn’t return. Melantha feels that she’s already fallen for him. And, we get to see the stranger’s POV who doesn’t know how to resolve this situation. He cares for her a lot, this much is clear and wants her even more. How he wants her to cuddle after making love and gets pissed off when she doesn’t. But of course, it’s him who’s to blame for this debacle etc. etc. But how can he approach? Oh, it was some mess! So he returns again. One day, he leaves the diary before leaving and the next day, when Melantha finds it she knew he’s leaving with the guests soon. She burns it as she had the rest of the pages, feeling forlorn.

There were a few nice scenes between Blackthorne and Melantha which I really liked. It seemed like the surliness is just a façade, underneath he’s a kind man. The day before leaving, Knightly asks Melantha to take a ride with him, calling her ‘Miss Mellie’. Melantha’s all ears, because the stranger also called her ‘Mellie’ while making love. While she was running to the stables, Blackthorne tells her to be sensible. It was already known that Knightly and Blackthorne had something going between them, can’t stand each-other. But, Melantha doesn’t listen to him and leaves with Knightly. Soon on their ride, she realizes she made a mistake. She was at first, nice and accommodating thinking the attractive Knightly must be her lover. But, when he kissed her she knew it wasn’t him. And, Blackthorne comes to her rescue. He informs her that Knightly is a devious scoundrel who loves to braggart on about his conquests.

Anyway, soon they all leave. Melantha mopes about and finds out she’s pregnant. Oh, the stranger took precautions but it seems like the first time has gotten her. Her grandmother suddenly changes her color and I was kinda stunned. The old battle axe, it seems like does care for her granddaughter after all. Melantha knew she’d never marry and have her own family but now, she’s equally sad and excited. She plans to go back to Italy (where they stayed before coming back to England) and live as a widow because her lover, it seems has truly abandoned her.

Then, something happens... And, I’ll just leave it here.

I wished there were more background info on both H/h. Also, wish the story stretched on a bit longer because I was truly enjoying it. Suffice to say, I was never bored at all, even knowing there are plot holes. The characters were very likable. I loved Melantha’s musings and the banters between the characters. I was a bit confused that how come Melantha didn’t recognize her stranger when he kissed her again, with his name known. I thought this time she will but surprisingly, she didn’t. Not until much later. It was very odd. I should’ve thought you know your lover when he kisses you, certainly so when he’s been the only one. Also, I was questioning as to how come she couldn’t recognize him from the gang? But, she did her own reasoning, like almost all of them were as big and tall like the stranger and being new to a male body, she got confused. It might also be the fact that the good sex addled her brain! Lmaooo But, let me tell you that I was glad about the end result; who he turned out to be and the way he groveled. I felt that these two did belong with each-other. Anyhoo, the long and short of it, even with all the flaws and a few typos, I wanted it to continue; so I give this book a perfect 4.