The Stranger I Married
Lady Pelham could not have designed a husband more suited to her needs. The Marquess of Grayson is a dear and enchanting friend and an unrepentant ladies’ man. Their union is solid; their hearts safe from one another. But every marriage has its surprises…
They were together for all the wrong reasons...
They are London’s most scandalous couple. Isabel, Lady Pelham, and Gerard Faulkner, Marquess of Grayson, are well matched in all things–their lusty appetites, constant paramours, wicked wits, provocative reputations, and their absolute refusal ever to ruin their marriage of convenience by falling in love with one another. Isabel knows such a charming rake will never appeal to her guarded heart, nor will she sway his philandering one. It is a most agreeable sham…until a shocking turn of events sends Gerard from her side.
Now, four years later, Gerard has come home to Isabel. But the carefree, boyish rogue who left has been replaced by a brooding, powerful, irresistible man who is determined to seduce his way into her affections. Gone is the devil-may-care companion who shared her friendship and nothing more, and in his place is temptation itself…a husband who desires Isabel body and soul and who will stop at nothing to win her love. No, this is not at all the man she had married. But he is the man who might finally steal her heart…
More About the Story
:: Written at the request of readers, here is a downloadable bonus epilogue (which was included in the mass market reissue edition): The Stranger I Married – Bonus Epilogue
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“His Lordship is at home, my lady.”
For a great many women such a statement was a common utterance and nothing of note, but for Isabel, Lady Grayson, it was so rarely heard, she could not remember the last time her butler had said the same to her.
She paused in the foyer, tugging off her gloves before handing them to the waiting footman. She took her time with the task, taking the extra brief moments to collect herself, and ascertain that her racing heart was not outwardly visible.
Grayson had returned.
Isabel couldn’t help but wonder why. He’d rejected every missive she sent to his steward, and had sent none to her. Having read the dowager’s letter, she knew what had broken him that day he’d left both London and her. She could imagine his pain, having seen his initial excitement and subsequent pride at becoming a father. As his friend, she wished Gray had allowed her to provide him more than just that one hour of comfort, but he’d turned away from her, and years had passed.
She smoothed her muslin skirts, and touched a hand to her upswept hair. When she caught herself checking her appearance, Isabel stopped with a muttered curse. This was Gray. He would not care how she looked. “The study?”
“Yes, my lady.”
The scene of that day.
She nodded, and squared her shoulders, shoring up her nerve. As ready as she would ever be, Isabel passed the curving staircase and turned into the first open door on the right. Despite her mental and physical preparations, the sight of her husband’s back struck her like a physical blow. He stood silhouetted in the window, appearing taller and definitely broader. His powerful torso tapered to a trim waist, beautifully curved ass, and long, muscular legs. Framed by the dark green velvet curtains, the perfect symmetry of his form stole her breath.
But there was a somber, oppressive air that surrounded him that was so distant from the carefree man she remembered. It forced her to take another deep breath before opening her mouth to speak.
As if he felt her presence, Gray turned before she managed a word. Her throat closed tight as a fist.
He was not at all the man she had married.
They stared at each other, both held motionless in the pregnant pause. Only a few years, and yet it seemed a lifetime had passed. Grayson was no longer a boy, not by any stretch of the imagination. His face had lost that faint remnant of youth, and time had etched its passing in the lines that bracketed his mouth and eyes. Not happy lines, she could see. Frown lines, lines of sorrow. The brilliant blue of his irises that had caused many women to fall in love with him were now a deeper, darker shade. They no longer smiled, and appeared to have seen far more than possible in only a four year span.
She raised a hand to her bodice, dismayed by the rapid lift and fall of her chest.
Gray had been beautiful before. Now, there were no words to describe him. She forced her breathing to slow, and fought off a sudden, desperate flare of panic. She had known how to handle the boy, but this…this man was not tamable. Had she met him anew, she would know to stay far away.
Even his voice had changed. It was deeper now, slightly raspy.
Isabel had no notion of what to say to him.
“You have not changed at all,” he murmured, striding toward her. The previous cockiness of his bearing was gone, replaced by the type of confidence one gained from walking through hell and surviving it.
Sucking in a deep breath, she was inundated with the familiar scent of him. A little spicier, perhaps, but he smelled like Gray, nevertheless. Staring up at his impassive face, she could do no more than shrug helplessly.
“I should have written,” he said.
“Yes, you should have,” she agreed. “Not just to warn me of your intent to visit, but before, if only to say that you were well. I have been worried about you, Gray.”
He gestured toward a nearby chair, and she sank into it gratefully. As he moved to the settee across from her, Isabel noted his quaint garb. While he wore trousers with jacket and waistcoat, the garments were plain, and of common materials. Whatever he had been doing these last years, it apparently had not required the latest fashions.
“I apologize for your worry.” One side of his mouth curved upward in a ghost of his former smile. “But I could not tell you I was well, when I was far from it. I could not bear to look at letters, Pel. It was not because they were from you. For years I avoided any sight of correspondence. But now…” He paused, and his jaw tightened, as if with determination. “I am not visiting.”
- Amazon’s Best Books of 2014 The Stranger I Married is named one of Amazon.com’s Best Books of 2014!
- CAPA Award Winner The Stranger I Married has been named The Romance Studio’s Best Historical Erotic Romance CAPA winner!
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“Day transfers a traditionally modern-day scenario — older-woman, younger-man relationship — to Regency times with ease. A fast pace, strong characters and good verbal repartee all keep the story moving.” — January 2007
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Top Pick! “Sylvia Day pens a witty and wonderful story in The Stranger I Married. This is probably the best piece of erotic historical fiction that I’ve read this year… If you’re in search of a very sexy story with depth and dreamy desire, The Stranger I Married is just the book for you. I wholly loved it!” — January 2007
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“The Stranger I Married is the newest release by Sylvia Day. Ms. Day has proven time and time again she has what it takes to pen one exciting and sensuous novel after another. Her raw talent alone is gold and her writing is masterful and sinful to read. A few words come to mind when Sylvia Day’s name is spoken–a legend in the making in the romance field.” — January 2007
- The Romance Studio:
“This is a phenomenal book! The Stranger I Married is an exciting, fast-paced story of a couple with a past of numerous affairs. Ms. Day is an incredible author who manages to express sensual, sexually explicit situations without sacrificing the integrity of the story. I loved this book!” — January 2007
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“You just can’t go wrong with a Sylvia Day novel. With larger than life characters, plots that steal your breath, and sex hot enough to singe the pages The Stranger I Married is sure to keep readers up long into the night. I loved losing myself in Gerard and Isabel’s struggle to come to an agreement on the status of their marriage. Beautifully done Ms. Day!” — January 2007
- Rosemary’s Romance Books:
“I loved it. Could not put it down. Well done fantastic read!!!!!” — January 2007
- Reader To Reader Reviews:
“Wow! Once you start reading The Stranger I Married you will not be able to stop! All I can say is: I want to read more by the dynamite writer Sylvia Day.” — January 2007
- Just Erotic Romance Reviews:
“Sylvia Day’s The Stranger I Married is a highly erotic, emotional historical novel that will grab and refuse to release you. I loved reading The Stranger I Married, and eagerly look forward to my next Ms. Day tale.” — January 2007
- Coffee Time Romance:
“I will start by saying that I do not like Regency period settings in the least. Having said that, I must admit that sometimes a book comes along that transcends all of my prejudices and The Stranger I Married is one such novel. I do not feel these characters are the usual Regency fare. Their in-depth characterization caused me to care much more about them than I normally would. I am sure other readers who give this superb story a chance will feel the same way I do. It is an excellent book with much to offer.” — January 2007
- The Romance Readers Connection:
“The Stranger I Married is refreshingly novel with a slightly older and much-experienced heroine and a hot-headed younger rake of a hero. The development of their love and marital relationship unfolds perfectly. The Stranger I Married is delectable historical romantica you do not want to miss!” — January 2007
“Day proves that you can mix erotica with a well written, character driven, love story. This book was so hot it gave me butterflies in my stomach and tingles in all the right places. And yet, it was still a well written, character driven novel. Gerard is tormented by his past, and so is Pel. As the depths of their emotional scars are slowly revealed, their actions make sense. Day’s ability to believably write Gerard, a character who changes so radically from a carefree boy to a man with depth and dark places, is quite a feat. Bottom Line: If you like your heroes dark and your sex very hot, you won’t want to miss this one.” — January 2007
- Romance Designs:
“Thoroughly engaging characters that felt remarkably like family made The Stranger I Married one of the most memorable books I have read this year. I opened the book and read it straight through in about four hours, it was so engrossing. The story was fast-paced and rich in content; a beautiful love story from beginning to end. After reading The Stranger I Married, I must say Bravo to author, Sylvia Day. She has written a heartbreaking, yet heartwarming love story that has earned a place on my 'keeper' shelves; a true romantic treasure.” — January 2007
- Joyfully Reviewed:
“Sylvia Day once again delivers a fabulous story with The Stranger I Married The characters are fantastic, and with their strengths and flaws, Grayson and Isabel are so realistic. Any fan of Ms. Day knows that she weaves a sensual web between characters that traps the reader. You’ll be stuck to the pages of The Stranger I Married until the very end...” — January 2007
- Curled Up With A Good Book:
“Sylvia Day’s newest release from Brava is completely captivating. The minute I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.” — January 2007
- Rendezvous Romance Bookstore:
“With her debut full length novel, Ask For It, Sylvia Day dazzled! Bawdy, sassy, sexy romance laced with humour and a heroine basking in her independence, The Stranger I Married is sheer delight.” — January 2007
Blogger and Reader Reviews
- "Overall this novel was really well written and would be worth finding more of her novels to read." — The Stranger I Married « Gayle and Books
- "The Stranger I Married was my first introduction to the writings of Ms. Day and now I find myself a fan. I normally don’t say this but I find the ne..." — Reading Haven:: The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day
- "Ancora non ho avuto il piacere di leggerli, ma sicuramente entro la giornata inizierò Marito Amante." — La magia dei Libri - Anteprima: Extra Passion 5 e 6