||Jan 1 1999
Barnes & Noble.com
Strange things happen when the power of a long-ago love affair reaches across the centuries to bring together a disillusioned woman and a steel hearted Mountie. Ghostly voices drive Pierre and Sarah to solve the haunting mystery and to heal their own wounded hearts
When I first began this book I hadn't heard of the "real life" ghost who haunts an inn across the lake from where part of this story is set. I found out about the girl who suffered a similar fate to Isabelle Tremblay after I had signed a publishing contract. I wonder of there was another secret love affair behind this murder.
Maud stalks the halls of Willow Place Inn on the south shore of Lake of Two Mountains, in Hudson, Quebec. She is said to be the restless spirit of Mary Kirkbride, a serving girl who was murdered by the
Patriots for expressing sympathy for the militia at the time of the Rebellion of 1837. Disturbances occur outside Room 8 and in the basement, where chairs are knocked over and singing can be heard--when nobody living is down there. These strange happenings are most common when the wind begins to blow across the lake and snow is in the air.
In Beloved Stranger a past love which ended in murder at the time of the rebellion, brings together two modern day people.
Sarah MacMillan seeks honesty and truth in her
work and in her life and finds what she needs: the family's ancestral home just begging to be renovated with love and furnished with precious antiques.
Pierre Martin is an undercover Mountie with a job to do: to check out the suspicious new owner of the old house.
Ghostly voices and discoveries of the past drive Pierre and Sarah to solve the haunting mystery of their connection with the builder of the house, risking everything, even their lives. In so doing, they find healing for the wounds of the past and can
open their hearts to love.
Sarah let her hand rest in his a moment while a small exquisite shiver ran up her arm from her finger tips, like the quiver that sometimes ran through her when she touched a beautiful piece of antique porcelain. Hastily she withdrew from his touch, seeking for something to say to break the momentary tension.
"This is Jan Holmes. She's come to help with the renovation for a few days."
She watched him as he turned to smile at Jan and take her friend's hand. What was it about him that had sent her into a tailspin the first time she saw him and that had caused that reaction today? He wore jeans and a loose shirt now rather than the suit and white shirt that had looked so out of place in this setting the day before and she had to admit, he looked just as good.
"I could help," he said. "I'm pretty good at carrying things." He pointed to the wooden crate in the trunk.
Before she could answer, he bent to hoist the box. She opened her mouth to tell him not to bother, to leave her property alone, but Jan was already thanking him. Her friend was right, it would be churlish to refuse, and the box was heavy.
Sarah shrugged resignedly. "Why not?" she said. "Follow me." She rolled her eyes at Jan and turned towards the house.
She led him through the front door and waved him towards the stairs. "Up there, please," she said and stood aside to let him pass.
The box was destined for the master bedroom, and Pierre carried it easily up the wide oak staircase. She followed, tried to keep her mind on the antique brass bowl and stand cradled in his arms. She certainly wouldn't think of the strong shoulders and flexing glutes that were in her immediate line of sight.
He hesitated at the top of the stairs, turned and lifted an eyebrow. "Which way?"
She stepped past him, ignoring the little flutter that ruffled her senses as her arm brushed his.
She'd finished the bedroom a couple of weeks ago, choosing willow pattern white and blue, the blue of a summer sky against puffy clouds. The wood floor gleamed, the lacy curtains moved gently in the faint breeze. It was an oasis of peace and serenity.
"Just put it on the floor."
He bent to comply, and Sarah tore her gaze from his back and thighs as he moved. He was suddenly very male, very overpowering in this room she'd made to suit her taste, to serve as a refuge for her alone. He was invading her space. She had a sudden picture of him removing his shirt, watching her on the bed. What was the matter with her every time she saw this man? She'd always avoided all the 'girl chat' about men, and had never been one to speculate about the sexual potential of every male she met.
She heard a movement behind her and turned to see Jan in the doorway, puzzlement in her eyes as she looked from one to the other.
"How about some iced tea?" she said quickly. "Or a beer?"
"Iced tea sounds great." He smiled and wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. "Lead the way."
Sarah stepped to the stairs, silently thanking Jan for the interruption. She had to get him out of her bedroom before her mind played more tricks, but she was uncomfortably conscious of his every movement behind her as she took him back down the stairs and into the kitchen.
Reviewed by Debbie Pollard
Let me tell you, pulling an all-nighter reading a page-turner is a heck of a lot more comfortable in bed under the comforter, curled up with the latest paperback, rather than hunched over and wrapped in two blankets, sitting in front of the computer. When I started reading Patricia Crossley's BELOVED STRANGER, I simply wasn't in the mood to print the book out (unlike most ebooks I've read lately, this one is a full-sized novel!). Even though I print out documents double-sided, I wanted to see if I could do this review without using the paper. I started reading around 6 PM on Sunday evening, took a short break to throw some food at the kids, husband & dog, and then proceeded to be mesmerized for the next 5 hours. Since Monday was a workday, I decided I'd better get a little sleep, so I didn't actually finish the book until the next evening. But let me tell you, this one book has convinced me to get a laptop that I can take to bed with me!
Sarah MacMillan has decided to forego the rat race and has bought, with the help of her grandpa, some rural property outside of Harrison Corners. She plans on re-doing the main house, fixing up one of the cabins for her brother Michael, who is recuperating from a motorcycle accident that has left him partially paralyzed, and keeping the third cabin as the office/work-shop for her antiques business. Since making the purchase, her finances are a bit
tight. The cabin she has set aside for her brother Michael needs a ramp for his wheelchair, and the computer she wants to buy him is going to run around $1,500. So, when a neighbor calls to say that she has someone interested in renting Sarah's cabin, Sarah's reluctance to have someone, especially a man in her life, is overridden by her other objectives.
Unbeknownst to Sarah, Pierre Martin is not at all whom he seems to be. Prior to Sarah buying the house, it was owned by a gang of bikers who were involved in a money-laundering scheme. Sergeant Martin, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has gone undercover to see if Sarah is perhaps now part of the scheme, and also to check out the house for any clues that might have
been left by the bikers. All Sarah knows is that he's handy with a hammer and is too good-looking for his own good.
Part of the reason Sarah was drawn to this house in particular is that it was built in the late 1800s by a George MacMillan, possibly an ancestor of hers. When Pierre comes into her life, she begins to have haunting and frightening dreams, where she is very cold and in an extreme amount of pain. When Pierre is away, the dreams recede, but the longer he stays the stronger and
more intense they become. The discovery of George's diary, hidden in a secret compartment of the now-stripped fireplace, provides a possible link between Sarah and Pierre. However, they will have to unravel the mystery that surrounds their past before they can begin their future.
Patricia Crossley has woven an extremely engaging story, with just the right amounts of mystery and romance (in two different centuries, even!), with a goodly dose of paranormal. The writing for the characters is full and rich, and the text flows effortlessly. Do yourself a favor and read BELOVED STRANGER! Though, I warn you, be prepared to do it in a single sitting.
Romance Reviews Today e-zine (http://www.romrevtoday.com)
Harrison Corners and Sainte Marie sur le lac, Canada, Present Day
Sarah MacMillan has no idea how much her life will change by simply buying her ancestor’s house in Harrison Corners. Her purchase will allow her to conduct her new career in refinishing and selling antiques out of her home while providing a safe haven for her invalid brother. The house itself has been mistreated by previous unsavory owners and needs much work, but Sarah loves it, feeling a connection to her ancestor George.
When Pierre Martin shows up on her doorstep asking to rent a cabin for a few weeks while he vacations, Sarah reluctantly agrees in exchange for an exorbitant amount of money and help in building a wheelchair ramp for her brother. Sarah feels as if she has met Pierre before, and finds herself extremely attracted to his good looks and amber eyes. Although she feels uneasy in his presence at times, Sarah chalks it up to lack of sleep; she has been experiencing horrific nightmares since she moved into George's old bedroom. A discovery during the remodeling reveals interesting information about George and his lover, Isabelle Tremblay, and Sarah begins to suspect her home may be haunted.
In fact, Pierre Tremblay Martin is a detective for the Canadian Police, sent to Harrison Corners undercover to investigate Sarah and her home, although it does not take long for him to realize Sarah is not involved in any illicit activities. Pierre is wildly attracted to Sarah but resists her, instinctively knowing she will not tolerate deception. His willpower is short-lived, however, and he finds his instincts were on target after all. Sarah flees her home temporarily, and sets out to unravel the reason behind her disturbing dreams as well as their connection to her "ghosts", George and Isabelle.
A fascinating blend of paranormal suspense, intrigue and romance, BELOVED STRANGER is a well-crafted, highly detailed novel that captivates and enthralls from the very first page. Ms. Crossley's attention to detail is impressive, from her vivid imagery of rural Canada to her excellent character development. Besides strong main characters, we are also introduced to excellently drawn secondary characters, especially The Sentinel, who adds just the right amount of suspense to an already taut, mystery-filled plot. An extremely satisfying read, BELOVED STRANGER is the book to pick up for a strong dose of paranormal intrigue and romance.
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