After Crispin inherits his family money and gains his father’s old and prestigious title of Lord Cavratt, the young women of society begin chasing him mercilessly. One in particular, a Miss Cynthia Bower, under the encouragement of her mother, tests Crispin beyond his limits of gentlemanly behavior.
She had practically thrown herself under his horse on a number of occasions, lost control of her own horse, and managed to be at every social event he attended. Yet, her practiced coyness and blushes did nothing but annoy. These kinds of “man hunts” did nothing for Crispin over the years except make him cynical and wary of female attentions—they were all false.
The Kiss of a Stranger starts with one such “accidental” meeting between Miss Bower and Lord Cavratt. She manages to find and pursue him to an out of the way country inn. Her insistence that they’ve been seen together in society often enough that people are talking about them, and that he needs to declare himself, makes his blood boil—but when she insinuates that the only reason he hasn’t yet kissed her is due to a lack in ability—well, that sends him over the edge of reason.
Rather than kiss Miss Bower as she clearly wants, Crispin looks around the gardens for another woman to display his “talents” on. Seeing a poorly dressed young woman standing nearby, and assuming she is a servant girl, he marches over to her and kisses her fervently.
He is not some innocent young pup, and is surprised at how the kiss affects him. Nonetheless, girl’s abusive uncle sees this one kiss and insists that Crispin marry his niece, Catherine, instantly.
While Crispin and Catherine try to show society that they are indeed happily married, they fall deeper and deeper in love, but neither believes that the other feels the same. Unfortunately, the gossiping socialites don’t believe it for a minute either, and young damsels and their mothers continue to come calling on Crispin, while under their breath they insult Catherine and reinforce her insecurities.
Although it will ruin her socially, Catherine refuses to stay married to a man who doesn’t love her. She knows that eventually Crispin will become angry and bitter, like her uncle.
Crispin gave up on the idea of true love years ago, after being thrust into society’s insincere and money-grubbing hands, and thus he doesn’t understand these feelings he has for her.
As Crispin and Catherine both try to figure out their marriage before an annulment makes the idea too late, her uncle learns that he gets a greater inheritance if Catherine is not married, and starts trying to force her to come back home with him.
I won’t give away the ending, but the whole book is fun and exciting, and worth every minute.