Hello Stranger is the fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’ The Ravenels series, one of our favorites from this author! Check out our review for why this is MUSTREAD for Historical Romance fans.
We first meet Dr. Garrett Gibson in Marrying Winterborne. Garrett has the distinction of being the only woman doctor in all of Britain, and she’s phenomenal at her job! After she treats Rhys Winterborne when he’s injured from an accident, he’s so impressed that he invites Garrett to be one of the on-call physicians for his department store empire. Over two years, Garrett becomes a trusted doctor and friend to Rhys, Lady Helen, and the Ravenels. It’s actually in service to the family that Garrett first meets Ethan Ransom, a police detective and counterintelligence agent–first when she helps Lady Helen rescue her half sister from an orphanage and again in Devil in Spring when Garrett and Ransom help save Lady Pandora when she’s caught up in an Irish liberation plot. (I know, things get crazy for these Ravenels and their acquaintances!)
In any event, we catch up with Garrett in Hello Stranger as she’s returning from providing services to those in need in a workhouse. On her way home, Garrett is attacked by three off-duty soldiers. She’s trained in cane self-defense techniques and is able to successfully fight off one of the men. When she turns around to take care of the other two, they’re already knocked out… how? Well, Garrett has a guardian angel of sorts–Ethan has been following Garrett when she’s in the more dangerous parts of the city to make sure she’s protected. Garrett is a little miffed because surely she can take care of herself. But for Ethan, it’s not that he doubts her fighting skills. From the first moment they meet, Ethan has been drawn to Garrett: he thinks she’s remarkable. As Garrett gains more notoriety, he knows that she’s subject to more than just the ordinary dangers of living in London. Ethan just plans to keep watch and stay in the shadows. In fact, things are getting dangerous for him, as he’s trying to uncover terrorist plots that he believes are being aided and abetted by officers within British government. The truth is, Ethan doesn’t believe he’ll be alive for much longer. But as he gets to know Garrett, she proves herself to be a formidable partner who accepts him exactly for who he is. No, it won’t at all be easy to stay away…
Katie’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with Hello Stranger like I did. I was still pretty hung up on Devil in Spring because Gabriel and Pandora were everything to me. Then Ethan Ransom showed up with his smooth words and Irish accent that he tries to hide, and I was DONE.
We’ve met Ethan before. He typically hides in the shadows with his Ravenel features and general shadiness. He does have a weakness, though.
Dr. Garrett Gibson.
She’s an incredible woman with brains, wit, and beauty. She’s also the only female physician in England. It takes some tough skin to put up with all the things that society has thrown her way, but she does it with her head held high.
It’s the way she holds herself that draws Ransom to her. She tends to treat people in rough parts of the city, and he takes it upon himself to keep watch on her from a distance. One part that totally swooned me was when he gave her a whistle to use to call for help if she found herself in trouble again.
One evening, after she hasn’t seen him in a few days, she blows the whistle and he comes running. Their chemistry is electric! I was swooning and smiling like a total goof through some of their scenes.
“I summoned you.” Her cheek curved against his shoulder as she added, “My genie of the whistle.”
“I don’t grant wishes.”
“A second-rate genie. I should have known I’d get one of those.”
“A queen, you are,” he said softly. “I could travel the world the rest of my life, and not find another woman with half your ways.”
Possibly my favorite thing about this couple is their support of each other. Ransom doesn’t want to interfere with Garrett’s practice, and she wants to help him with his investigation. They’re super supportive and each other’s most vocal advocate.
Garrett doesn’t give up on Ransom after he’s been hurt, and it’s that determination that sees him through his crisis. Even when her mentor expresses his disbelief that her treatment will do anything but kill her quicker.
In short, Dr. Garrett Gibson is amazing because she saves his life when absolutely no one else could. When he’s conscious again, Ethan gives one of my favorite lines in novel:
“When I was near death, you were the anchor to my soul.”
If you’re a fan of heroes that aren’t afraid of strong women, or heroes that melt for the woman they love then this book is for you!
As Ethan says,
“Don’t mistake softness for weakness. Only a strong man can be soft with a woman.”
Funmbi’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Katie’s flails are 100% my flails, too. Hello Stranger is such a glorious surprise. As you know, I’m a huge fan of historical romance and Lisa Kleypas is one of my queens. She has done such a phenomenal job of creating this interconnected and intergenerational world, as we move from the Wallflowers to the Hathaways, and now the Ravenels and their associates.
With that said, my love of HistRom has typically been reserved for stories featuring aristocrats and royals. So, at first, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I learned that Hello Stranger would focus on working class folks (albeit, aristocracy-adjacent). But I’m so glad I didn’t let my bias stop me, because in all honesty and in my humble opinion, Garrett and Ethan might be the best heroine/hero Lisa Kleypas has written.
Garrett is who I endeavor to be: she is upright, fully confident in herself and her abilities, and determined to use her skills for as much good as she can. Interestingly, Ethan shares many of these qualities. He cares so much for Garrett, that his concerns about his counterintelligence work and potential harm that could come to Garrett makes him want to push her away. But once Garrett puts her mind to something, she pursues it without question. And Ethan is it for her. Their romance is one of equals and all the more glorious for it.
“I’ve dreamed of this for so long,” he whispered. “The first time we met, part of my brain said, ‘I want that one.’”
Garrett smiled against the furry surface of his chest. She nuzzled against the neat, dark circle of a male nipple and touched her tongue to it. “Why didn’t you pursue me, then?”
“I knew you were too fine for me.”
“No,” she protested softly. “I’m not a highborn lady, I’m a commoner.”
“There’s nothing common about you.” Ethan began to play with her long hair, sifting his fingers through it, lifting a lock to brush the ends against his lips and cheeks. “Do you want to know why I gave you violets? They’re beautiful and small, but tough enough to grow in the cracks of city pavement. More than once, I’ve been in some dark place and seen them clustered near a broken stoop, or at the base of a brick wall, bright as jewels. Even without sunlight or good soil, they show up to do a flower’s job.”
He bent to press his lips against the gilded curve of her breast, as if he could taste the light on her skin.
“There was no need to leave a lamp burning in your room,” he whispered. “I could find you anywhere, in daylight or darkness.”
. . .
“Have I shocked you, love?”
Garrett found it hard to think. Her entire body was throbbing. “A little,” she said unsteadily. “It is my first time.”
“But you sounded so adventurous earlier, with all your talk of positions.” His fingers began to toy with her indecently, sifting among the feathery curls. Desire seemed to radiate from her—she was surprised not to see wisps of steam rising from her skin.
“I… I expected we’d start in a more civilized way, and work up to more adventurous things later.”
One corner of his mouth quirked lazily. “You didn’t invite me to your bed expecting a civilized lover.” His thumb stroked into the tender slit of her sex and circled through a slick of wetness. A shiver of pleasure centered in the depths of her body. He shot her a glance of concentrated blue heat across the blushing surface of her skin, seeming to read her thoughts as if they’d been emblazoned in the air.
“You wanted to find out how much I could make you feel. You wanted to know what it was like to lose yourself in passion, and find yourself safe in my arms afterward. Now I’m here, and I’m going to love you with everything I have in me.”
Garrett and Ethan can be their true selves with one another, devoid of false pretenses and bravado. They can count on each other for anything. And this comes to play in a major way when Ethan needs help and Garrett is the only person in the world with the knowledge and determination to save him. I’m telling you, Chapter 16 is the best writing I’ve ever read from Lisa Kleypas, EVER. The range of emotion she takes us through in that one chapter is astounding. We suffer with Garrett and Ethan and hope beyond reason with Garrett and Ethan. Ultimately, we see how perfect these two are for one another.
As I mentioned before, the benefit of this interconnected world is that we get to see some of our old faves, like Rhys Winterborne, Sebastian (formerly Lord St. Vincent), and West Ravenel. In fact, Hello Stranger does such a fantastic job of setting up West as the hero of the next Ravenel novel Devil’s Daughter and his longing for a woman who seems so far out of his reach (Phoebe, Sebastian and Evie’s first daughter).
Everything by Lisa Kleypas is MUSTREAD, but Hello Stranger has a very special distinction in a collection chockfull of great novels.