A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Beautiful Stranger by Ruth Wind

on April 20, 2016

The Theme: Contemporary romance

Why This One: I’m almost out of print contemporaries!


There were two plot elements that made me approach this book with trepidation: the hero is Native American, and the heroine was formerly fat and has lost a lot of weight. Only one of these is in my wheelhouse, but I’d say neither fear was justified. I was a bit put off by the heroine’s thoughts about her former weight, but I can’t say they aren’t true-to-life… and her overall arc won me over.

Marissa Pierce and Robert Martinez aren’t really strangers — both are friends with the Forrest family, heroes of the three previous book in the series, which are loosely linked by a matchmaking theme. (I haven’t read any of the previous books and didn’t find that a problem.) But they only really come to know each other over concern for Robert’s niece Crystal, a pregnant teen who is Robert’s ward and Marissa’s student.

Robert doesn’t want to act on his strong attraction to the very wealthy Marissa, because he thinks she’d just be slumming. Marissa has self-esteem issues of her own, because she’s still far from where she wants to be, and she’s also freaked out by how intense things get between them. These are fairly typical romance themes; what set the book apart for me was how strong a character Marissa is. She has a very full, vibrant life, including a close relationship with her twin, whose issues expressed themselves in under- rather than over-eating. (Her book, sadly, never got written.) Marissa has some guilt around being so rich, founds charities. and doesn’t live a high profile lifestyle, but she also doesn’t hesitate to use money to enrich her life or make it easier. (As someone who grew up very poor, I envy that ease.)

I loved that Marissa is not a pathetic virgin — she had plenty of boyfriends before she lost weight. Despite the changes, she’s not thin and will never achieve a “perfect” body. (Another area I can really relate to.) Her weight loss is based on exercise and mindful eating, which makes it interesting to read about, rather than unutterably tedious and sad, and she is, very realistically, worried about gaining weight again. But it’s clear that Robert always found her attractive, admiring her style and zest for life, and so we don’t have to be concerned that he’ll only love her if she stays smaller. I also loved that she doesn’t put up with any crap about her eating choices from others; she does what she knows works for her and to hell with them.

The side story with Crystal is also very well drawn. She’s an intelligent girl from a horrific background, and she’s dealing with a lot of hidden pain. Her story reminded me a bit of the author’s wonderful The Sleeping Night, which she wrote under the name Barbara Samuel.

I’m glad I took a chance on this one.


15 responses to “TBR Challenge: Beautiful Stranger by Ruth Wind

  1. SuperWendy says:

    I cannot tell you how many times I have almost picked this book up for a Challenge theme only to set it aside. Part of it is because of the reasons you state (there are so many ways Native American heroes and former fat girl heroines can go wrong…sadly) and the other part is I know I picked this one up YEARS ago because it’s pretty beloved in some romance circles – so hype. I want to Keishon really likes this one? Or maybe I heard about it through AAR. I’m not sure which anymore 🙂

  2. I would be hesitant about the Native American hero and formerly fat heroine as well. I don’t have a probably with those aspects, but I am always worried about the depiction and whether I will want to throw my e-reader across the room in frustration. But, I am very happy to see that this one worked out pretty well. I will have to add to my ever-growing wishlist…thanks #TBR Challenge!

  3. azteclady says:

    Apparently I do live in a cave–I had never heard of Ruth Wind, and only have the vaguest of memories about Barbara Samuel (bad co-blogger, too)

    This novel sounds intriguing, I’m adding it to the “be on the look out for” list.

  4. Miss Bates says:

    Oh my gosh, I love Ruth Wind/Barbara Samuel. RW wrote one of my favourite Christmas romances: For Christmas, Forever … I have to remember to add that to my Christmas posts this year. Read it, read it! I also read and loved Jezebel’s Blues and Walk In Beauty. Some of the best category rom ever written in RW.

    • Kaye55 says:

      I found a copy of Jezebels Blues on my librarys freebie shelf and loved it, but I think my favorite of hers is In the Midnight Rain. Will have to keep an eye out for the Chistmas story and Beautiful Stranger.

      • Miss Bates says:

        Isn’t it just lovely?! I have In the Midnight Rain in the Endless Digital TBR!!! I think you’re going to love the others, so I hope you find them!

  5. Dorine says:

    Good choice. I haven’t read this author under any of her pseudonyms but I want to, after I went on a merry chase of what she has written. Thanks for bringing her to our attention.

  6. Valancy says:

    This sounds really interesting – and authentic, which lets face it, is sometimes slim pickings in the book world. I am adding it to my list!

    (I take one off, I add four more…thus the TBR goes…!) 🙂

  7. […] “Ka ching”: Beautiful Stranger by Ruth Wind. Heroine is extremely wealthy. My TBR Challenge book. […]

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