Throwback Thursday: When Strangers Marry by Lisa Kleypas

The earliest Lisa Kleypas books I’ve read, When Strangers Marry previously was published in 1992 and called Only in Your Arms. What a story! It’s by no means my favorite LK book, but tells a unique and memorable story of Lysette, a teenage girl escaping a despicable uncle and suitor in 1800s Louisiana. She’d rather take her chances in the swamps than submit to a miserable and abusive marriage.

Dark and cynical Maximilien’s been the center of society gossip for years, with whispers of cruelty and murder—maybe Lysette can redeem him in society’s eyes. Plus, her nasty fiancé is Max’s longtime bitter enemy. It’s a win-win, right? She gets his protection and a comfortable life, he gets a beautiful young wife (he’s 35, she’s 18ish and not much older than his sons) and a chance at a happier life. Yes, he’s vengeful and angry, but also thoughtful, kind, and loving to Lysette and others under his protection.  

You can tell it’s an earlier work, but the writing is lovely and the characters come together and really complement each other. Lysette is young and a bit naïve, but Max doesn’t intimidate her, and she helps keep him centered and calmer than he would have been. And Max starts realizing he can trust her and rely on her—and truly love her.

Tighten the reins? I’ll do my damnedest to make her as assertive as possible. Lysette should be terrified of me, yet she somehow has the courage to face me as an equal. I don’t deserve such a gift. God knows I won’t be fool enough to throw that away. I would slit my throat before asking that she pander to the rules of our quaint little society.

Overall, great writing, major spice, and a fun read! If you’re looking for more recommendations, please visit our Reviews page. 

Rating: 4
Steam: High
Themes and Tropes: Age Gap, Marriage of Convenience, Escaping Abuse, Mystery, Revenge
Pair With: Wines to go with Louisiana and New Orleans Dishes.