Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: More than a Stranger by Erin Knightley

It began with an angry letter where Evie tells Benedict Hastings to stay away from her brother. Evie was 11 and Hastings was 13.

Dear Mr. Hastings,

I am sorry to tell you that my brother already has a best friend. I don't care that you can shoot and ride well. Besides, I promise that you cannot ride better than me. Kindly leave Richard alone.

- p. 3

Their correspondence lasted for five years, until Hastings suddenly cut ties with Evie a few days before his graduation from Eton and before he had a chance to meet her in person for the first time.

It is seven years later and Benedict Hastings has resurfaced in England. He needs to recover from his last covert mission. He decides to contact his closest friend, Richard Moore, Evie's older brother. Richard doesn't know about Hastings' work as a spy but his arrival is more than welcome as Richard is about to escape the wrath of his scorned mistress by traveling to his family's country estate, thinking that his family is already at their London townhouse.

Imagine their surprise when Hastings and Richard discovers his family is still in residence -- and Hastings meets Evie for the first time. Unready to face questions of the past or the present, Hastings offers a false name and identity as he is introduced to Evie.

But very clever Evie knows that there is something strange about Mr. James Benedict and means to find out what it is -- why does her heart flutter when he is near? And why does she feel so comfortable talking to him when he is a stranger to her?

I enjoyed reading the letters between Evie and Hastings. They revealed so much of our hero and heroine's personalities: first, as young and brash children who didn't filter their thoughts -- to young adults who bared their souls to each other -- finally to the final year, when so much was hidden between the lines. It truly was a love that grew and blossomed slowly and deliberately.

When they finally meet, I was excited and anxious about how Hastings would reveal his true identity (and how Evie would react to it). I also thought it was amazing that Evie and Hastings never have sex -- but, every time they were together, I could feel the chemistry (and sexual tension) between the two. Emotion is built up with every letter and with every encounter -- towards the end, the tension was unbearable!

They fit as if they were made for each other. His Evie, his most treasured friend, tasted of hope and trust -- too much trust.
- pp 161-162

I love how this book was written -- it was economical and precise without being sparse, with Knightley building layers and perfectly encapsulating key moments with the right mix of emotion and revelation. (See Chapters 15 and 16: It is a moment of so many discoveries for Evie.)

Lastly, I thought the Moore siblings were enchanting and have the same engaging sibling rapport and charm as Julia Quinn's Bridgertons and Lisa Kleypas' Hathaways. I am especially excited to read about Bea, the sister who secretly paints in oils and not in watercolors like a "proper lady". (I hope she gets her own book.) ^_^

This is Erin Knightley's debut novel and the first book in her Sealed with a Kiss series. Richard's book, A Taste for Scandal will be released late 2012. (An e-novella, Miss Mistletoe, will be released in November 2012.)

To find out more about Erin Knightley, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.


  1. Ooh - this sounds excellent! I love the idea of a couple that's fallen in love gradually. Interesting, also that there's no sex in the book, since the cover is rather provocative. I'll have to check this out - thanks for the review!

    1. Hi, Sarah!

      Let me know what you think?

      Knightley was still able to convey a wealth of emotion and love despite the lack of sex -- this surprised me in a pleasant way. ^_^

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