***** 5 staring the heck out of this *****
First read July 2015. Rating: barely 3 stars.
Second read October 2016. The highest of 5 stars.
Have you read lots of reviews for this book, but can't really make heads or tail of what to think of it? The ratings are high and low. In the reviews, people are either raving like crazy, or don't know what the heck the others are raving so crazily about.
The brilliance of this book AND series doesn't really hit you on the first time reading Love is a Stranger. You got to be patient, and you'll be richly rewarded by a couple and a love so strong it takes my breath away. You just have to get through this book first, hang in there, and continue the series.
When I first read this book, I didn't know what to think of it. The story line was all over the place, and included badgers, an aristocrat with ties to the (British) royal family, terrorist and a New Years Eve party gone bad, a large, shaggy dog from a shelter, a girl and her step-father, outright murder, viewing of houses to buy, Russian operatives, a burning house (oh, two burning houses actually), a three week camping "trip" at a deserted house, and one particular Russian Bad (?) guy, to name a few points in the story. This is all, amazingly, just the back drop to the real focus of the book, its main character Benjamin Rider and Nikolas Mikkelsen.
They are some of the most complex characters I ever had the pleasure to read. I just had to be patient and get know them, to get me to love them. Nik certainly didn't make it easy for me. I think he actively resents being liked as a character until you fall for him hard. Which I did.
Reading the book the second time, all my love for Ben and Nik made it easier to understand the goingons between them. Now I know why they act the way they did in Love is a Stranger. Hence the jump from 3 to 5 stars. Because I cannot in good conscience not rate this book, series and characters less.
Please give this series a try, or another try if you've only read the first book.
Love is a Stranger is like a wardrobe. A beautiful, intricately carved wardrobe, but a wardrobe just the same, on the first read through. Inside the wardrobe, is "Narnia", but you wouldn't know until you've opened it up. Looking at the wardrobe knowing what's inside (re-reading it), makes you look at it in a totally new way. That is Love is a Stranger for me.