Sharon Sala scores a direct hit to the heart in the final installment of the “Year of Loving Dangerously” series. Familiar Stranger is the tender story of two long-separated lovers who find their way back to each other. It’s a poignant reminder that we’re never too old to find love with the perfect partner.
Davis Wilson, known as Jonah in the branch of special services where he’s a legend, is returning home to the woman he left forty years ago - a woman who believes he’s long dead. When he steps onto Cara Justice’s porch, she can’t believe her eyes. Long ago, these two were teenaged lovers. Then David enlisted, Cara discovered she was pregnant, David was presumed dead, and Cara married someone else. She’s now a widow and the mother of three. An instant flare of passion shows them both the fire still burns, but as Cara puts it so eloquently, “David Lee Wilson, just where the hell have you been?”
David is ready to retire, to put the past behind him and try to make some sort of peace with Cara. There were reasons he was announced as dead, betrayals that kept them apart, and one piece of deadly unfinished business he must complete. He doesn’t intend to stay with Cara, merely to lay the groundwork for a relationship once he is completely free of the past. But when David thwarts an armed robbery and attempted murder, his cover is blown. Now Cara will be in danger if Jonah doesn’t resurface and go after a killer before the killer comes to him.
A story about lovers who are past the first blush of youth is a welcome read to many, and I was no exception. David is portrayed as a man who knows fully what he lost, but instead of wallowing in grief for a past he can’t change, prefers to forge ahead and make the most of the time to come. A great attitude in a hero, and very appealing. And sexy? You bet. David Lee Wilson could make any reader’s mouth water.
Cara is his equal in the “carpe diem” department. She loves her kids and felt great affection for her late husband, and if he never quite took David’s place in her heart, she did love him. But he’s gone, and now there’s a second chance at happiness. There’s no waffling, no “what will the kids say”, just a determination to grab what life is offering and make the most of it. Cara Justice wants David Wilson in her bed and in her life - for good this time.
The story has a few bumps. David’s relationship with his daughter is resolved with lightning speed, and readers who haven’t read the rest of this series may be a bit bewildered by references to previous characters. These are small points in an otherwise engaging tale, though.
It’s too bad that many readers may be turned off by the cover of this book. David is described as fit and trim, with dark hair that’s silver at the temples, but the white-haired guy on the cover with a bit of a paunch looks like somebody’s dear old granddad. What could have been a lovely reunion cover doesn’t match the story details in any particular. C’mon, Silhouette, you can do better than this.
So, readers, don’t be misled. Familiar Stranger is a delight of a novel featuring two lead characters who are out of the norm, thank goodness. In the capable hands of Sharon Sala, their story is as spicy and tender as any reader could wish.