‘Married to a Perfect Stranger’ by Jane Ashford

mtaps jaSTORY: Mary Fleming and John Bexley are the “white sheep’ of their large families, written off as hapless, boring—and thus suitable for each other. But they’re no sooner married than John is sent off on a two-year diplomatic mission.

Upon his return, John and Mary find that everything they thought they knew about each other is wrong. They’ve changed radically during the long separation. They have to start all over. It’s surprising, irritating—and somehow very exciting…

REVIEW: John and Mary Bexler were only married for a month before he was sent off for two years with a diplomatic group to China.  Not having much time to really get to know one another, John’s return has really put a strain on their relationship.

Mary spent the time that John was gone as a companion to her Aunt Lavinia trying to help her but sadly watching as she slowly descended into dementia.  During this time, Mary has grown by learning to run her aunt’s home and become a mature and somewhat independent woman.  She has also had time to indulge her passion for drawing.  She has a special talent for being able to look at a person and see deep into them and then transform their “real” face to paper. Mary’s ability to draw faces becomes both a good and bad thing in the story.  To give out more information would be a spoiler.

John has matured as well and has worked hard to establish himself in the diplomatic scene.  He chose this route in life after being constantly put down by his two older brothers as they thought he needed to just work for them.  Because of this, he still does not have a lot of self-confidence.  He is also afraid that Mary may not fit into his diplomatic circles and is now questioning his marriage.  He sees how she has matured and has developed a take-charge way about her from her responsibilities caring for her aunt. John sees this as somewhat threatening to him.

John begins making nightly forays into seedy areas of London trying to search for information.  (This actual reasoning isn’t made very clear in the story.)  When Mary discovers this, she is upset and worried and John retaliated by arguing with her.

Mary is a strong character, but John comes across as a man who is still smarting from his brothers’ treatment of him and has yet to form a backbone and self-confidence.

The story is one that I’m sure many couples today face after a long absence from one another, i.e., after military deployments.  It surely must take a while for each other to settle back into their relationship.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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