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Lone Star Lawman

The Negotiator


Marriage to a Stranger
by Kay David
(Harl. Super. #1045 $4.99 PG) ISBN 0-373-71045-3
5 Hearts

I never thought I would want to keep and re-read a book that started with the line “I want a divorce.” But this Kay David volume is one of the best truly romantic books I have had the pleasure to read in a long time…and Marriage to a Stranger will definitely be on my list of keepers for a long time to come.

Lara and Conley Harrison have been married for seven years and have grown apart. Conley has a computer chip business that is all-important to him, needing his constant attention and frequent traveling to keep all the customers and investors happy. Lara is a founding member of a security firm with her father, requiring her attention and loyalty. Lara realizes one day that something is missing…and that something is her marriage.

We are not talking about a common lack of communication or missed connections here. It has been 10 months since Lara and Conley last made love. They have separate bedrooms because Lara began suspecting Conley of having an affair, which he denied, and which she didn’t believe. Previous attempts to revitalize their marriage worked for short periods of time, but then fell into a familiar non-caring pattern. Now those are marriage problems!

When Lara asks for a divorce, Conley throws his coffee cup and leaves the house. He realizes how far into oblivion he has sunk and how far he has let things slide. It seems that Conley is being stalked. For the last several months, while his business has been teetering, he has been receiving notes, phone calls, emails and even flowers from some unknown person. Most recently he discovered someone had been in his office, searching for something. He even tried staying the night in the office to catch the intruder…of course, this led to Lara’s suspicion of his affair. Finding one of the “love notes” added to her suspicion and convinced her of the truth of the affair.

Lara, meanwhile, has gone through a time of soul-searching, and realizing that she needs to make a clean break to protect her sanity, she has convinced herself it is over. As she tries to reconcile her guilt over her failure and her unwanted pangs of love, Conley is involved in a hit and run accident on his way to the office. Knowing he still loves Lara, and hoping to convince her of his love, he finally asks for help from the Mesa Security Firm…operated by Lara and her father.

A taut, tense drama ensues as they rush to find the stalker, who apparently has now turned violent. In the course of this excitement, Lara and Conley are thrown together. It takes the entire book to resolve both the mystery and the marriage issue. And what a story it is!

One scene involving Lara’s car being shot at and going over the side of a mountain road in the midst of a snowstorm is one of the most tense and realistic scenes. I could almost feel her terror.

The inner struggles of both Conley and Lara are realistic and touching as they experience the feelings first encountered in their young married life. Their rediscovery of the physical side of their marriage, their deep caring for each other and their undeniable love is heartwarming and develops in a realistic manner. The ending scene seems a tad rushed, but is still very satisfying.

The twists and turns of the mysterious stalker keeps the pages turning, as you try to guess right along with the characters. The secondary characters are drawn into the story in such a way that one is never sure of anyone. The ultimate villain is a person some might guess, but is not completely obvious until the end.

Lara’s father, Ed and his love interest provide Lara with support and an awakening of the value in relationships. Conley’s lawyer and friend, Theresa, provides a perfect foil for Lara. Michael and Sandy Oakley, Conley’s business partner and Lara’s best friend, provide the contrast in marriage that helps Lara see her own relationship differently. The additional glimpses into Conley’s business associates add to the feeling that these are just regular folks struggling through some difficult times.

As I finished this tale, I turned to my husband of many years and just wanted to connect with a hug…Any book that can bring back that feeling of first love is one which I will savor again whenever I feel the urge. Marriage to a Stranger is one such book.

--Shirley Lyons

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