Her Perfect Stranger
One stormy night, Commander Corrine Atkinson walks into a hotel bar and finds Mike Wright (aptly named) sitting there. She’s wet, she’s tired, she’s irritable and due to a power outage, she’s stuck. Against her better judgment, she wants this man badly. He wants her as well and when he offers to let her share his room, the offer is not completely benevolent. Both of them know what they’re expecting and what they want. And boy, do they go after it! The next morning, Corrine disappears from Mike’s life with some regret but with the memory of a great time.
Or so she thinks. It turns out that fate is going to play these two quite the ironic hand. Mike is Corrine’s new pilot. Corrine is a commander at NASA and part of a team charged with completing an International Space Station. Mike was tapped last minute to fill in as a pilot, and while he’s excited about the mission, he’s now even more excited about working with Corrine. Corrine is a little less excited. She’s spent years earning a reputation as a tough and competent commander in a man’s profession. She’s made personal sacrifices in order to make a life-long career for herself, but lately she’s beginning to feel like something is missing. Until Mike walked into her life, she wasn’t able to put her finger on just what it was. As their continued attraction becomes evident, Corrine wants to forget all about what happened – and Mike wants to pick up right where they left off.
The story is filled with a good amount of sexual tension as Mike and Corrine dance around each other. Corrine has a hard time keeping it together at work and her “always in control” attitude begins to crack. At first, Mike has fun baiting Corrine, but as he comes to really care for her, he begins to realize that he wants to play for keeps. At the same time, the reader comes to see Corrine as more than just her work persona or the wanton sex goddess that Mike has known. She has fears and vulnerabilities. She knows that she has sacrificed being friends with her crew because she’s had to be tougher and more in control than they are. Any woman who has had to listen to any man going on about his boss or his coworker having PMS will know exactly where Corrine is coming from. Corrine walks a fine line and Mike begins to see this and respect Corrine for the kind of person she is. He has no ego about her “being the boss” which I found unusual, but not unwelcome.
In truth, Corrine and Mike are the backbone of the story, and they make it work. They are thoroughly likable people and the reader roots for them as they begin to realize that they are going to get more than they bargained for out of what was supposed to be a simple one-night stand. Ms. Shalvis shows us what the rest of the men on the crew think of both Mike and Corrine; in truth, their perceptions are not the whole picture. We know Corrine is more than the Ice Queen they perceive her to be, and that Mike is not really the cocky womanizer his pals think he is. When Ms. Shalvis shows the crew’s perception of the hero and heroine, as well as how they see each other, the reader gets a clear view of what them, not just as lovers, but as individuals..
The shortness of the series format can sometimes be a problem; readers may feel rushed or that some aspect of the story is sacrificed – be it the romance or characterization or plot. That was not the case with Shalvsi’ book – not even the ending felt rushed. I have two relatively minor quibbles: Corrine’s relationship with her crew was never really worked through or dealt with. And when Mike follows her to her mom’s home, her mom invites him in despite the fact that Corrine is ticked off with him. As a plot device, “Yes, I know he’s annoying you but I can see he loves you and you love him, so he can come into our home” annoys me. Corrine could have had a perfectly good reason for not wanting him to come in the house. Corrine’s mom ended up winning me (and Mike) over, so it only became a minor annoyance.
Her Perfect Stranger is definitely a good book for a stormy night when you’re comfy in your own house – or even in the house of your own perfect stranger.