Short & Sweet Review: Strangers When We Meet by Rebecca Winters

Format: E-book
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Superromance #737
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Nicholas Marchant Armstrong
Heroine: Rosie Gardner Armstrong
Sensuality: 2.9
Date of Publication: March 1, 1997
Started On: October 25, 2010
Finished On: October 25, 2010

Harlequin Super Romance always delivers heartwarming stories of love and family life interwoven together. My first experience with this series came when one of my favorite authors Sarah Mayberry wrote for this series. Even then I usually refrain from Harlequin books these days, unless I actually know the author well enough like I do for Ms. Mayberry. I picked up this novel from a discussion thread on Amazon opened up for book suggestions on the theme where military heroes who are presumed dead by their wives suddenly return back from the dead leading to the dynamics that make up a great story. This story played with all my emotions; I felt heartache, happiness, anger and betrayal at times and I say that a romance author has done his/her job well when you provoke all sorts of emotions be it good or bad from your readers. So on with my review.

Storyline: Rosie Gardner Armstrong had married her high school sweetheart Nicholas Marchant Armstrong and never looked back. They had been happy as two people who are as tuned into one another as they are can be. It is when Nick gos off to Iraq during the war to be presumed dead for the past six and half years return from the dead to find that his wife Rosie had met Zachery Wilde and had gotten engaged less than 24 hours ago to the man the story starts. The only thing that had kept Nick going during the long hours of torture during his captivity had been thoughts of his beloved Rosie and son Cody who had now grown into a sixteen year old boy. Even though Nick’s doting parents nor his son shows any hint of knowing about the new man in his wife’s life, the moment Nick holds Rosie in his arms and kisses her, he knows that Rosie had changed and that her soul no longer belonged to him. What follows is a story seeped in heartache and misery for Rosie with all the guilt that surfaces whilst she tries to come to terms with her feelings for the two wonderful men in her life, and the inevitable choice she has to make, either way hurting a man she loves.

The First Meet: Rosie and Nick had first meet one another during a high school sponsored carnival in a pie throwing contest. Nick had been paired with Rosie and from the moment that he sees Rosie amidst all the pie stuffing, peeking out with her green eyes, Nick’s young heart leaps right out and offers itself with undying love for her.

Time period: This romance has a contemporary setting.

Awareness between the two characters: Though there are no steamy interludes between Nick and Rosie, one can’t help but be drawn into the web of awareness between these two characters. It is gut wrenching to read about the confusion and guilt that Rosie goes through because she is engaged to one man whilst married to a man who starts divorce proceedings because he wants her to be happy. Through flashbacks into what their life together had been like, Ms. Winters shows the deep connection between Nick and Rosie, a connection that refuses to go away even with distance and time.

How the relationship grows: Nothing that happens within this story is easy to read about – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. When Nick returns from the dead, Rosie who ends up in a state of shock doesn’t know to whom her loyalties lie with. It is Zach who is the ultimate hero in my opinion because he refuses to put Rosie through so much pain and heartbreak and gives her the choice to work things out with her husband who thinks the best thing he can do for Rosie is to let her go completely from his life so that she can start anew with Zach as her husband.
It is to Zach that Rosie runs back to when she realizes that her husband is serious about obtaining the divorce, and it is because Zach who has already lost so much in his life loves her more than his next breathe that he takes her back and resumes their courtship though Rosie is unable to let go of Nick and their shared memories together.
Nick on the other hand tries to smooth out the way for the couple to be because he believes that it is what Rosie wants and needs. Amidst all this however, the connection between Nick and Rosie grow, because both of them still love and yearn for each other as much or more so than ever since the first time each had known the other. There is a lot of drama and angst involved whilst Nick’s parents consider Rosie’s love for Zach a betrayal, whilst Cody tries to adjust to accepting Zach as a permanent part of his mother’s life.

The turning point: There is no sudden revelation that happens within the story to guide Rosie on who to choose in the end. The decision comes to her gradually as she realizes that her feelings wouldn’t change and that it would be wrong of her to choose Zach whilst she was still in love with her husband.

Likes: I liked the fact that this romance doesn’t cut any corners on the emotional upheaval the reader has to go through to reach the happily-ever-after. The character who was most endearing to me through the whole story was Zachary Wilde who really understood the woman he loved, and loved her enough to set her free not once but twice so that she would be able to choose who she wants to spend the rest of her life loving. It just flat-out broke my heart for Zach at the end. *sobs quietly* But I felt a little better once I saw that Ms. Winters didn’t leave Zach hanging high and dry for long as his story was soon published with his own happily-ever-after.

Dislikes: I really didn’t like the way how guilt-ridden everyone made Rosie feel throughout the story. Her in-laws, her son as well as Nick made Rosie feel as if she had betrayed all of them by trying to move on with her life and trying to find happiness with another man. At times, I felt like screaming in frustration at her in-laws because they were so devoted to their only child that for even a moment they never consider just how much of an emotional impact Nick’s sudden return back into her life must be on her. And Rosie refused to stand up for herself, because she felt too guilty at all times because she had believed her husband to be dead and tried to move on, whilst her in-laws and son hadn’t. Totally didn’t sit well with me!

Recommended for: Fans of Harlequin Super Romance publisher series and those who love a story with a love triangle that guarantees to play havoc on all your emotions.

Favorite Quotes

Just then Nick raised his head, and a pair of black lashed, flame-blue eyes no length of time could ever change sought hers over Cody’s shoulder. The secret smile he’d always reserved for her alone shone from his face.
His remembered smile conjured up a myriad of emotions from their frozen prison, and now they nearly overwhelmed her.
“Nick…” she cried, reaching blindly for him.
He met her halfway, clutching her to him so hard she could feel his ribs through his uniform – graphic evidence of the inhumane treatment he’d received in captivity.
His body quaked. “If you hadn’t been here waiting for me, I would have died before my feet touched the tarmac.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | Harlequin

[xrr rating=3/5]

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