Intimate Strangers, by acclaimed romance and mystery writer Laura Taylor, is a sensual delight for the appreciative reader. With beautifully rendered prose, Taylor takes the reader inside body, mind and heart of her main characters as they at first resist, and then ultimately succumb, to the intense attraction each feels for the other. In passages sizzling with heat, the reader is happily swept up in the passion connecting protagonist Hannah Cassidy to her apparent antagonist and reluctant admirer Nicholas Benteen. In this short novel, Taylor demonstrates her mastery of the most satisfying elements of romantic fiction.
This story’s great strength is the concentrated focus on the relationship between Hannah and Nicholas. From the moment Hannah appears on Nicholas’s remote Nevada property, it is clear that she is woman not easily prevented from achieving her goals. What she doesn’t understand is that her success on this particular mission threatens the fragile sanctuary Nicholas has created, not just for himself, but for wounded comrades-in-arms he shelters on his property.
Taylor puts her considerable talent on display as the interaction between Hannah and Nicholas reveals ever more compelling layers of character. The initial antagonism between the two warms into grudging respect, followed by unacknowledged attraction, before finally erupting into fully-heated passion. Taylor employs her writing skill so the reader experiences all of the sensory stimulation of the main characters, whether that is Hannah surrendering herself to Nicholas despite her inexperience and modesty, or Nicholas struggling to restrain his surging desire for her. The richly rendered love scenes serve the overall story by demonstrating in vibrant language the true nature of Hannah, Nicholas and the love that bonds them.
A compelling theme of contemporary romance is that love conquers all. Taylor tests this thesis in her story by weaving the plot around the question as to how two very different and very strong-willed characters can both get what they most want. The uplifting conclusion delivers on the implicit romance reader-writer bargain as Taylor ends her book with a wonderful scene of intimacy entirely consistent with the characters she has created and shared.
Intimate Strangers is available as a free downloadable eBook for Kindle . A free pdf can be found on Taylor's website. The nook version is available for purchase here.
Laura Taylor will be at the Southern California Writers Conference beginning next Friday in San Diego. She is an Advance Submission reader, will be leading workshops during the conference, and serving as facilitator of a Friday evening rogue read and critique.