Come Love a Stranger

Come Love a Stranger

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by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
     
 

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A woman with no name and no memory...The two men who claim her:one with love, the other with fear...A dazzling tale of secret passions—and a love tragically lost and miraculously reborn—by the incomparable storyteller.

Mere days after Ashton Wingate's wedding to the enchanting Lierin, capricious Fate stole the Mississippi plantation owner's beloved

Overview

A woman with no name and no memory...The two men who claim her:one with love, the other with fear...A dazzling tale of secret passions—and a love tragically lost and miraculously reborn—by the incomparable storyteller.

Mere days after Ashton Wingate's wedding to the enchanting Lierin, capricious Fate stole the Mississippi plantation owner's beloved from him. Now, three years later, his carriage has collided with a cloaked rider on horseback: a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the young bride who was swallowed up by the merciless river.

She awakens from unconsciousness in his magnificent home with no memory of who she is. Yet the tenderness of this noble, caring stranger who lovingly calls her "Lierin" soon captures her heart and inflames her with wanting. Then another enters their lives, threatening to destroy the happiness they have rediscovered in each other's arms—the dark and dangerous Malcolm Sinclair, who claims the enigmatic beauty is, in fact, his own wife, Lenore. But Ashton has sworn that he will not lose his adored one a second time, and he will risk any peril to preserve their newfound joy—no matter what the unremembered secrets of his lady's past ultimately reveal.

LIERIN

With no name and no memory, she awakens from a nightmare of madness into the lives of two stranger. One she desires, one she fears—but both have claimed her heart.

To handsome plantation owner Ashton Wingate, she is Lierin—the cherished bride cruelly stolen from him by capricious Fate. The other calls her Lenore—entangling the lost, tormented beauty in his sinister web of perilous deceit. But it is in the adoring arms of noble Ashton that her true destiny awaits—as they join together to unlock the mysteries of a shadowed past. . .and to rekindle the flames of a glorious love once vanished but never forgotten.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380899364
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/28/1986
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
158,910
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

It was immediate attraction, and an instant spark of love; they married after less than a month, sailing off toward the promise of happily ever after. But wicked fate decided that their love was too easy, and stole the cherished new bride away from plantation owner Ashton Wingate. Deep in mourning, Ashton's heart is held prisoner, until months later he discovers the unconscious form of a woman who looks too much like his dead wife.

Ashton bent over the girl again. She showed no sign of regaining consciousness, but lay inert against the bank where he had placed her. The chilly water was already making his legs ache, and her thoroughly soaked cloak was tangled about her like a frigid cocoon. He searched out the silken frogs that held the garment in place and plucked them free. His brows rose sharply in surprise when he peeled the sodden cloth away. Even in the unsteady light of the carriage lanterns he could see she was no fledgling lass as he had first supposed. The thin night gown readily displayed the fact that she was a woman.

"Hiram! Come on! We've got to get this girl home!"

"Yassuh!"

Spurred to action, the black came running back as Ashton extracted the injured woman from the bonds of her soggy cloak and lifted her in his arms. He raised her high, letting her head loll over his shoulder, then began the scrambling struggle up the slippery embankment to the roadway. Hiram was there to lend a hand the last step or two and sprinted on ahead to open the carriage door.

''Give me a moment to get settled," Ashton tossed over his shoulder as he placed the woman on his cloak and gathered it about her.

"Is she . . . is she gonna be all right, massa?'' Hiram asked anx iously,craning his neck to see past the other's back.

"I just don't know, Hiram. I'm sorry," Ashton replied. He lifted his unconscious charge onto his lap where his own body would cushion hers and she could be held safe from further bruising during the rough ride ahead. As he cradled the seemingly fragile form close against him, a scent of jasmine wafted through his senses. A pang of sweet recall tugged at his memory, giving him pause, but he thrust the sensation away with a fierce determination. It could not be, and he would not let his mind torture him with impossible yearnings.

He reached up a hand to brush the tangled web of red tresses from her face. The begrimed mass resisted his effort, but with gentle pers istance he separated the strands and swept a portion behind her ear. As he leaned back and the light caught the pale visage, he drew in his breath sharply. His mind tumbled to a halt, and he was held frozen by what he saw.

"Lierin?" he breathed as a piercing pain of longing went through him.

Like an avalanche, memories of that time in New Orleans when he had met and married his young bride came crushing down upon him. Though he had been assured that Lierin was dead, he was now struck with the thought that a horrible mistake had been made and it was she who was with him now.

Hiram failed to find reassurance in the wide range of expressions that crossed his master's face. ''Massa, what's wrong? Yo look like yo just seen a ghost.''

"Maybe I have,'' Ashton murmured in stunned amazement. An over riding hope began to build within him, mingling with an odd mixture of elation and fear. If this was Lierin. . .

The urgency of the moment pressed upon him, and his tone conveyed his growing anxiety as he commanded, "Hiram! Get up there, and lay the leather to those horses! Hurry!''

The startled man slammed the door and quickly climbed up to his place. Ashton braced his legs against the far seat as the brakes creaked loose and Hiram's shout echoed through the still night. "Yeeeaah! G'yap dere!''

The well-matched team lunged forward, taking their duties to heart, and in the cool evening air the steam rolled from their backs as Hiram drove them at a breakneck pace around a bend, not even checking their stride when the wheels caught a rut and the closed landau lurched sharply sideways. Ashton swayed with the careening motion and cradled his pre cious charge as if it were his own heart he carried. As he bent over her, his spirits soared with unaccustomed joy, and he closed his eyes as a prayer filled his soul: "Oh, God, let it be Lierin . . . and let her live!"

Gently he traced his lean fingers along her cheek, pausing at her temple until he felt the faint throbbing of a pulse. A sigh of relief slipped from him, but he could not ease the pounding of his heart.

Meet the Author

(1939 - 2007) Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, creator of the modern historical romance, died July 6, 2007 in Minnesota. She had just turned 68. Her attorney, William Messerlie, said that she died after a long illness.

Born on June 3, 1939 in Alexandria, Louisiana, Mrs. Woodiwiss was the youngest of eight siblings. She long relished creating original narratives, and by age six was telling herself stories at night to help herself fall asleep. At age 16, she met U.S. Air Force Second Lieutenant Ross Woodiwiss at a dance, and they married the following year. She wrote her first book in longhand while living at a military outpost in Japan.

Woodiwiss is credited with the invention of the modern historical romance novel: in 1972, she released The Flame and the Flower, an instant New York Times bestseller, creating literary precedent. The Flame and the Flower revolutionized mainstream publishing, featuring an epic historical romance with a strong heroine and impassioned sex scenes. "Kathleeen E. Woodiwiss is the founding mother of the historical romance genre," says Carrie Feron, vice president/editorial director of William Morrow and Avon Books, imprints of HarperCollins Publishers. Feron, who has been Woodiwiss's editor for 13 years, continues, "Avon Books is proud to have been Kathleen's sole publishing partner for her paperbacks and hardcover novels for more than three decades." Avon Books, a leader in the historical romance genre to this day, remains Mrs. Woodiwiss's original and only paperback publisher; William Morrow, Avon's sister company, publishes Mrs. Woodiwiss's hardcovers.

The Flame and the Flower was rejected by agents and hardcover publishers, who deemed it as "too long" at 600 pages. Rather than follow the advice of the rejection letters and rewrite the novel, Mrs. Woodiwiss instead submitted it to paperback publishers. The first publisher on her list, Avon, quickly purchased the novel and arranged an initial 500,000 print run. The novel sold over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication.

The success of this novel prompted a new style of writing romance, concentrating primarily on historical fiction tracking the monogamous relationship between a helpless heroines and the hero who rescued her, even if he had been the one to place her in danger. The romance novels which followed in her example featured longer plots, more controversial situations and characters, and more intimate and steamy sex scenes.

"Her words engendered an incredible passion among readers," notes Feron. Bestselling author Julia Quinn agrees, saying, "Woodiwiss made women want to read. She gave them an alternative to Westerns and hard-boiled police procedurals. When I was growing up, I saw my mother and grandmother reading and enjoying romances, and when I was old enough to read them myself, I felt as if I had been admitted into a special sisterhood of reading women."

New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a leading voice in the women's fiction arena, says, "We all owe our careers to her. She opened the world of romance to us as readers. She created a career for us to go into."

The pioneering author has written 13 novels over the course of 35 years, all New York Times bestsellers. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss's final literary work, the upcoming Everlasing, will be published by William Morrow in October 2007. "Everlasting is Kathleen's final gift to her fans," notes Feron.

Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, who was predeceased by her husband and son Dorren, is survived by sons Sean and Heath, and numerous grandchildren.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
June 3, 1939
Date of Death:
July 6, 2007
Place of Birth:
Alexandria, Louisiana
Place of Death:
Princeton, Minnesota

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Come Love a Stranger 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply in love with everything she writes!
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ReadingRaven More than 1 year ago
This was a great historical romance. I was in suspense the whole time trying to figure out if she was Lierin or her twin sister (no longer alive) Lenore. Lierin has lost her memory and two men think they are both married to her, insisting she is their wife. I was rooting for Ashton all the way, and the drama and twists and turns were numerous and complex. The plot was great, characters were well-rounded, and the diction was easy to understand. The ending was abrupt, which I really liked because the finalization was perfect and the ending did not drag on.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Come Love A Stranger was the first book I read from Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was amazed at how she put to paper the man of my dreams. Ashton Wingate is a strong, powerful, loving man. I have read MANY of her books and this is my favorite. I find it romantic and fulfilling. AND, I enjoy reading all the other reviews because thank goodness we don't all think alike! :'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this book. It went toooo slowly. I think that the author should spend more time on the important scenes than on the not so important scenes. The author talked about how much they loved each other for like 200 pages. This book was just plain boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I adore Woodiwiss but this is definitely not her best work. The plot was extremely convulted and twisted one too many times. I understand, however, that Woodiwiss was ill during the writing of it and perhaps this the reason for the drop in quality.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful love story with an everchanging plot that's full of surprises! I highly recommend this book. It is a great combination of historical romance and mystery. This was my first of her books to read and I look forward to reading many more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a definite must for those readers who like a good romance not of the Harlequin ilk. Woodiwiss is the Best. I fell in love with Ashton Wingate And Lierin Somerton almost immediatly, Cried and cheered Ashton on in his quest to prove to Lierin that she was his heart and soul. I sincerly hope that Woodiwiss chooses to write a sequel to this so we can meet the rest of the family and get to know their children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Mrs. Woodiwiss is a great writer. I have purchased every book she has ever written. When I finish one of her books, I can't wait for the next.