Review of “Stranded in Love” – Victoria Grant

If a gold medal was awarded for ‘Worst Day Ever’ Laney Calderone would win it today, hands down. She’s just discovered she’s pregnant, her fiancé abruptly dumps her when she tells him, and her new car refuses to start as a brutal snowstorm hits Toronto.

Good Samaritan Tyler Hammond offers to take her home; however, with the heavy snow falling and his patience dwindling, Laney’s gold medal day isn’t over yet.

Storms intensify both outside and in as Laney finds herself inexplicably attracted to this tall, dark and very handsome but infuriating stranger.

Can Laney fight her unwanted yet increasing desire for this man long enough to get through the relentless storm? And will Tyler let her walk out of his life as easily as she came into it?

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“Need any help?” a deep voice penetrated the howling wind.

Laney heaved another sigh as she looked up and saw someone approaching. “No, of course not!” she snapped, in no mood for stupid questions. “I often come out here late at night during raging blizzards to study the complexities of my car engine! Would you like to join me? Perhaps later we could pop into the coffee shop down the street for a latté and scone, just to finish the evening off right.”

A low chuckle escaped the stranger’s lips. “All right, as you seem to have the situation under control, I’ll leave you to it. Goodnight.”

“Wait —” Through the swirls of snow Laney was now very much aware of the man approaching. Her eyes took in his massive shoulders hidden beneath a black leather jacket, and as he got closer, her gaze wandered higher taking in the full lips creased in a smile, a finely chiselled nose and steel grey eyes that seemed to be twinkling, then thick, dark curls which refused to be flattened by the huge, wet flakes.

“Sorry…this hasn’t been a great day for me and now this! Not my idea of fun.” She stamped her feet in a futile effort to thaw her toes.

His smile widened. “What’s the trouble?”

Was he completely dense? “If I knew that, would I be standing here freezing to death apologizing to a total stranger?”

Her stinging reply didn’t seem to bother him as his laugh broke the snowy silence. “Now, now,” he scolded. “Let’s start again. I’m Tyler Hammond. And you are?”

“Cold, tired, hungry, and fed up.” She didn’t bother adding pregnant, it was none of his business.

He raised an amused eyebrow. “Charming.”

Laney treated him to her most withering glare, then checked her watch. “Look, it’s getting late and I’d like to get home. Can you help me or not?”

“I’ll call you Jane. That’ll make this a little easier.”

“Jane? Jane? I don’t think so! I’m Alaina Calderone. Call me Laney.”

“Hello Laney. It’s almost a pleasure to meet you.” He grinned.

She shivered once more as Tyler turned his attention to her car. “Let’s have a look. Any idea why she won’t start?”

“How should I know?” Laney rapidly came to the conclusion that Tyler Hammond was a complete moron.

“It is your car. I thought you might know something about it.”

She stared at him. “Is there a new law I don’t know about that states Ontario citizens must be licensed mechanics to own and operate a motor vehicle in this province?”

“It would help,” he said dryly.

“Well, unfortunately, I left my mechanic’s handy roadside repair manual at home tonight.”

“Too bad. You could certainly use it now.” He leaned over and examined a few of the engine parts. “Is the key in the ignition?”

When she nodded, he climbed behind the wheel. Laney heard the painful whirr again and sighed heavily, realizing to her disappointment that Tyler Hammond was no mechanic. Still, her hopes weren’t high.

He climbed out of the car and smiled far too cheerfully for her liking. “Nope, she won’t start.”

“Brilliant deduction! Any other extraordinary insights you’d like to share with me, Sherlock?”

“You’re not earning many points for Miss Congeniality, you know.” He tried unsuccessfully to hide a smirk.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

I’m going to break this review up into two sections.

 

First 100 pages: Laney found out she was pregnant, told her fiancé (whom she didn’t actually love), and he (Ramone) was furious so he called off their engagement. Tyler is in the process of divorcing his wife, proceedings that aren’t going smoothly at all. By chance or by fate, Laney and Tyler’s paths cross on one snowy night in Canada.

They are stranded together for almost a week in his apartment. They mostly argued but they did have many moments when they got long famously, in other words they “made love.” “Made love” was not a word I wanted to use but it was thrown out there. Honestly, how can you “make love” to a person you don’t know. Tyler had no clue Laney was pregnant with her ex-fiancé’s child. Another thing that bugged me, on day six (6), when the snowstorm had passed, Tyler was furious Laney was leaving him because he wanted to discuss their future. The man isn’t even divorced yet; his divorce isn’t drama free, so why would he even contemplate another relationship.

Even if I could get past the numerous fights, childish insults, I couldn’t overlook the secret bun in the oven and the not yet finalized divorce.

 

 Next 100+ pages: After Laney returns home, she’s immediately thrown into more stressful situations. Her mother is attempting to control her, her ex-fiancé want to marry her again, Tyler won’t let up on her, and she’s had to endure a heated confrontation with his (Tyler’s) estranged wife. As Victoria Grant, the author, made very clear.. stress is not good for a baby.

There were obviously times I felt compassion for Laney and her situation. However, for the majority of the book, I didn’t like her or her character. For some reason, she just left a sour taste in my mouth. I wasn’t a fan of Ramone either but I think most people won’t care for him and that’s Victoria Grant’s intention. Tyler, well, I didn’t really love or hate him. Really, I had no feelings regarding his character either way. Yes, he was a Good Samaritan and kept Laney safe in the snowstorm. On the other hand, he was too pushy for my liking. In my opinion, a man shouldn’t propose marriage when he’s still technically married. And, Laney shouldn’t have had sex with him without telling him she was pregnant with another man’s baby. Basically, they both made a bunch of bad decisions.

With all that said, I will give credit to Victoria Grant for writing a story that had plenty of drama because life is full of drama. Also, the book ended on a happy note. There was a surprise revelation along with the happy announcement but I will refrain from discussing it. I think Tyler’s reaction to the shocking disclosure sums up my feelings regarding the situation perfectly.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤

 

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Born in England to a Lawrence Welk-loving mum and a Monty Python-loving dad – tea drinkers all – we moved to Canada when I was seven. “Say book, say look” my new classmates would hound me just so they could have a good chuckle at my accent. But being incredibly shy, this was a great way for me to make friends. 

My love of words and a creative imagination prompted English teachers to urge me to write for a living, especially after I received a letter from the Prime Minister who thanked me for writing to him!  That was pretty awesome for a twelve-year-old! 

Through the years, I wrote all types of stories while I earned a living as an Administrative Assistant in various businesses including a bank, a car rental firm, an ice cream company, and a pharmaceutical manufacturer. I was more than a little peeved when I discovered none of them gave out free samples! I went on to own a Wedding Coordination business for six years (talk about romance!), all the while being happily married to the love of my life.

These interesting jobs plus wedded bliss gave me oodles of ideas for romantic plot lines, tall, dark and handsome heroes and feisty, beautiful heroines, and, of course, the happily ever afters. 

So amidst endless cups of strong tea while Cole Porter tunes and the dead parrot sketch whirl around in my brain, I write romances with a dollop of humour. I have an irresistible need to create captivating characters whose lives I can make completely miserable before giving them their happy ending.

I currently live in Mississauga and spend time with family and friends, and struggle daily with the wine and chocolate that somehow magically appear in my house…

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