This is an Official Review by an Eye On Romance Official Reviewer
for Always a Stranger (ebook)
Date of Review: 03/30/14
Official Reviewer for Eye On Romance
Amara Royce takes us to England during the Great Exhibition of 1851. There we meet some incredible individuals who are willing to risk society’s censure for a chance at happiness and to do the right thing by their fellow humans. Amara Royce makes her story compelling and engaging from the very first page. We are forced to keep reading so that we can understand these unique individuals and how their lives will intersect in a most delightful way.
Skyler, Lord Ridgemont, has recently come into his title following the deaths of both his father and his older brother. He left his engineering studies in America to return home and take up the mantle of head of the family. His first duty is to be the Great Exhibition’s royal commissioner which means that he must go around the exhibition and make sure things are running smoothly. He stops in the Oriental venue to make sure that the performers and their managers have all the paperwork in line and the suitable contracts signed. He doesn’t expect this duty to dramatically alter his life.
Hanako Sumaki is the sole Oriental performer. She is a woman of Japanese descent who must endure the slights and prejudices of the English audience. Hanako doesn’t have much choice in the role that she plays since her guardian rules her life with an iron fist. Not only does he control her desiny, but he also controls her younger sister’s. When Skyler enters her dressing room, Hanako has no idea that her life is about to change.
Skyler and Hanako come from two very different worlds. They come together in an unexpected event and the feelings they have for each other are not acceptable to society during this time. Amara Royce does a nice job of integrating the prejudices that people have towards the Japanese and other Asian groups as well as the stigma women of Asian descent suffered at this time. Ms. Royce helps us to see how damaging these mistaken beliefs can be and how fragile a woman’s reputation is. Hanako is denigrated everywhere she turns and not seen as fit company for anyone with a good reputation. Skyler knows that he should not be attracted to this foreigner, but he cannot help his feelings. He must get to know her better.
I loved this story for all of its twists and turns. Hanako and Skyler do not have an easy time of it. They both have their own cultural biases to overcome. Hanako also has secrets about the life she is living that she fears will drive Skyler away. Skyler has to figure out what he wants and how best to get it. Their relationship is frowned on by almost everyone they encounter.