NEVER KISS A STRANGER by Heather Grothaus

This book is to be released on March 1 and is published by Zebra. Synopsis below taken from

Nowhere in medieval England are three women so powerful -- or adored -- as the heiresses of Fallstowe Castle: Sybilla, the ruthless beauty, Cecily, the pure-hearted innocent... And Alys, the youngest sister, whose wild spirit has yet to be matched...

Lady Alys thinks everyone knows the legend: If a man and a woman meet at midnight within the ancient Foxe Ring ruins, they are as good as married. But when she finds a captivating stranger lurking there in the middle of the night, she discovers the one man who is unaware.

It's a deadly pursuit that brings Piers Mallory to the Fallstowe lands. But now that fate has attached the alluring, and curiously insistent, Alys to his side, it may work to his advantage to play by her rules, at least for a time. Yet the danger Piers courts is no game -- and the passion he and Alys share is all too real...

The story takes place in England in 1276. I think the story only spans about a month or so. The heroine is eighteen year old Alys Foxe. She’s got pale blond hair and brown eyes. She’s the youngest of three sisters. Her parents are deceased and her older sister, Sybilla, runs everything. Alys runs away because Sybilla is making her marry someone whom she doesn’t want to marry.

The hero is thirty year old Piers Mallory. He’s poor and on a mission: to claim his birthright from the King. He comes across Alys sleeping at something called Foxe Ring. It’s a stone ring outside that is supposedly where you go to meet your future spouse. Alys becomes convinced that they’re now husband and wife. I found that to be very annoying.

MY THOUGHTS: At the beginning, Alys is given a monkey, whom she names Layla. The vicious monkey is on almost every page of the story. I didn’t care for that at all. That too was very annoying. I don’t believe a romance book should feature a pet. The monkey was very distracting and pointless, really.

Piers suffers a terrible attack by two people who are very close to him. I like those characters because I feel all books, even romance, need a villian or two. I think they add to any story. I don’t think the ones in this story were given enough time to develop their characters. There wasn’t enough character development with both hero and heroine either. Piers lost his mother when he was just six. We don’t really know anything of his life before he met the heroine. Same goes with Alys. What was her life like, especially with no parents? We learned nothing about their pasts.

Almost from the start she claimed she loved Piers and not long after he claimed he loved her too. That was way too rushed, came too fast. They don’t really even know each other. They were sort of thrown together and they didn’t have anyone but each other during a stressful, scary time. Their feelings for one another grew faster than most, I guess, because of it.

I also didn’t like the ‘wood’ people, who live in trees, literally. I thought that was bizarre and unbelievable, more like something you’d read in a Grimm’s fairy tale. I guess it was a bit creative but a little too out-of-the-box for me.

Overall, I found to this to be silly and I was disappointed. I grade it a C/3 stars.

Heather’s complete booklist can be found here.

* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.