Book Review : Love is a Stranger (More Heat Than The Sun #1)
Loving a total stranger can be very hard work sometimes.
How do you love someone who exists entirely in the shadows? How do you love a man who describes himself as dead? How do you get that ghost to love you back? Ex-SAS soldier Ben Rider falls in love with his enigmatic married boss Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen, but Nikolas is living a lie. A lie so profound that when the shadows are lifted, Ben realises he’s in love with a very dangerous stranger. Ben has to choose between Nikolas and safety, but sometimes danger comes in a very seductive package.
A Sneak Peek Into The Story :
Benjamin Rider is currently staring unseeingly at the impressive view of London. He has arrived a few moments earlier, after being immediately led into his suite and tipping the doorman generously, Ben has been left to his own devices. Now he is waiting for Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen. Ben doesn’t even have to check his watch to know that Nikolas is late, but then again, he is the boss. If he wants to arrive fashionably late, he has the privilege to do so.
When Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen finally arrived, Ben has been waiting well over two hours for him. Being the head of a Black Ops department, Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen always has this air of nonchalance and disinterest about him. Ben reckoned, with Sir Nikolas being in such high position of power, this is just one of the few roles that he is required to play. But two can play this game. Ben is just as capable of feigning detachment as his boss, which is what he is currently doing as he latches his attention fully on Nikolas.
As he watches his boss enter the room and casually brushing his long hair away from his forehead, Ben knows this gesture is supposed to be an act of apology from Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen for having him wait for so long. Lord knows Nikolas will never apologize. But this time, Ben is not that easily manipulated. His mask of indifference stays in place. That is, until he feels Nikolas slides up behind him. He asks Ben to come accompany him to his house. His reason being that his wife is having a few of her friends over and he needs an ally if they were to suddenly go against him.
“You think my life is camouflage?”
Ben held the stare. “Sir, I think everything you do from the moment you wake up to the moment you let yourself sleep is nothing more than a shadow dance.”
To this, Ben can only snort derisively. Throughout the time he has known Nikolas, Ben has come to the conclusion that Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen is a man of many secrets. And out of all the things that Ben has discovered throughout the period of time working under Nikolas, the fact that he is married to the cousin of the queen – making him a member of the British Royal Family – is the most shocking yet.
At times like this, when Nikolas brings up his wife, Lady Philipa, Ben wonders just how well Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen’s wife knows him. Does she knows that Nikolas has been fucking Ben for some time now? Occasionally Ben allows himself to think and wonder about the nature of his boss’s relationship with his wife. Does Nikolas go home to his wife after fucking Ben, only to have another round of sex with Lady Philipa? But those are the dark recesses of his mind that he does not like to venture to often. As it makes him incredibly apprehensive of his current situation with Nikolas.
“I believe I am very much what I once was.” He looked across the table. “Totally obsessed with you.”
There is an unspoken agreement between between Nikolas and Ben. After that one time where Nikolas took Ben on the billiard table with just one look, they had both known to keep this a secret. No words had been needed between them. And since then, they would sporadically meet. Always on the time and place that is decided by his boss, and it doesn’t bother Ben much, since Nikolas always paid for the luxury hotel rooms. And yet, despite all the times they have had sex, Nikolas never stayed after.
Because for all the things they have done, they have never once kissed. They barely even bother with a hand job, let alone a blowjob. They had gone from a look to fucking, no quarter asked for or given. And as Ben never could quite wrap his mind around the situation that he and his boss are currently in, he never really dwell too much on it either.
However now, looking at this beautiful man before him, Ben realized for the first time that he wants more. He wants more than this. He wants more than he was usually allowed with this man.
“The frisson of anticipation surged back, but for the first time ever it wasn’t for rough sex. He wanted Nikolas to kiss him again. He wanted Nikolas to initiate another kiss, to admit his need—to admit finally that this, what they had, was more than sex.”
Sometimes in life, you will come upon a very weird movie, or a weird book. The storyline is odd, the characters – if you see it just on the surface – you are willing to bet money that they won’t work, or even if they did, they won’t last together for long. “Love is a Stranger” is that kind of book. If you put this book in any other author’s hand other than John Wiltshire, I can guarantee that it will result in a big pile of mess. John and his magical ability to write and construct such a wonderfully bewildering story manages to not only pull through, but he went above and beyond to present this book in such a manner that it captivates the reader’s attention and never lets go.
I can’t exactly put my finger on what exactly about that story that makes me enjoy it so much when at the start, everything just looks like a jumble of mismatched puzzle piece. But instead of falling apart, those weird, mismatched puzzle pieces were taken and molded into something totally new and different and magnificent.
“If this is love for you, then you are in love with a ghost, with the illusion of a man. Is that enough for you?”
“Would you let me have that? If you do, then I will find the man. I’ll breathe life back into the ghost.”
If you asked me to judge Nikolas and Ben before finishing this book, I would have immediately told you that Ben and Nikolas won’t work. They just won’t. They are way too different, way too opposite from each other to be able to make it work. That was my immediate first thought, however, after following the development of the story and of Ben and Nik’s relationship, I could not have been any more wrong.
Ben and Nik’s relationship is truly epic. At the first 30% of the book, I have a little trouble of settling into the plot since it was so different from any of the books I have read before. Not to mention, going into this book, the readers are warned that Nikolas is not as he seems. So naturally, I went into the book very suspicious of Nikolas, I even find myself always double analyzing every single action Nikolas made.
Ben closed his eyes. His legs opened slightly, and Nikolas stood between them, cradling Ben’s broken face in the palm of one hand while he gently worked over the cuts. “Tip your head back.”
“This part of your job description, sir?”
“I wrote my own job description.”
But as I slowly start to warm up towards Nikolas and his quirkiness, I start to enjoy the story more. Nikolas is a very sarcastic character. Being Ben’s boss, and a member of a British Royal Family, one of his favorite pastime is to annoy Ben to no end. And Ben, despite being Nikolas’s employee, never hesitates to call him out on it. Thus begins the volley of sarcasm, dry humor and witty comebacks.
While reading this book, my fangirling self could not be happier. I love sassy and sarcastic characters. And when an author can manage to balance all of that out with romance, passion, lust and desire, you already know it goes without saying that it will be a 5 star read for me.
To summarize Ben and Nik’s relationship in a sentence, I would say this : Their relationship is kind of like a dysfunctionally functional relationship that works.
I think one of the reasons why, is the fact that John Wiltshire builds Ben and Nik’s character through imperfections. John Wiltshire is not afraid to show the readers the dark and harsh side of Ben and Nik’s character. Just as much as he is not afraid to paint them in a good light. While I adore Nik and Ben’s personalities, I find out that eventually, the broken and vulnerable parts of them are the ones that makes me fall in love. It is through their flaws, blemishes and struggles that it shows just how right they are for one another.
“Life is interesting, Benjamin. I came to England many years ago and was offered a strange opportunity. I took it, and it worked well. Until it didn’t.”
“Until I met you.”
Nik smiled ruefully. “Then all the worldly things I had been offered were not so satisfactory.”
Plot wise, it is very engaging and intense from start until the end. From the very beginning of the book, it has been pointed out that Sir Nikolas Mikkelsen is not as he seems. So as soon as I opened up that very first page, my imagination has been working overtime on trying to figure out just what it is that Nikolas is hiding from Ben.
And when it was all revealed in the end, I find myself quite satisfied with the answers that was given. Because most of the time, the author spend so much time on the build up and trying to amp up the anticipation and suspense that by the time it comes to the big reveal, the secret wasn’t exactly mind-blowing at all. But with this book, it is the total opposite. When I said this book captured my attention from the very start until the end, I wasn’t bluffing.
Of course with that said, John Wiltshire doesn’t half-ass when it comes to the actions scenes either. Even for someone who claims that she enjoys reading action and suspense books, there are some gory scenes in this book that made me cringe and shy away from because of how detailed and well written it was.
The Verdict :
Altogether, it was one heck of a book. You want action? Suspense? Mystery? Love story? It’s all in here. Love Is A Stranger is just one bundle of awesomeness and bad-assery. When someone asks me what are the most epic love stories I have ever read to date, Ben and Nik’s name is on the list. Their story undoubtedly are in my list of most unorthodox and amusing relationship that I have ever had the pleasure to read.
And I am pretty sure it goes without saying that I’m obsessed with these two and I cannot wait to start reading the next book.
“You ask me what I want? I want to own you, Benjamin.”
Ps. I have found some bonus scenes from Radulf’s POV. Click here to read extras from Radulf’s POV!
PPs. Please only read Radulf’s POV after reading Love Is A Stranger because if not, you will be very thoroughly amused, but also confused.
- Did you know I also have a post dedicated to my favorite quotes in Love is a Stranger? Click here to check it out!