cover image Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4

Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4

Lisa Kleypas. Avon, $7.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-0-06-237191-1

Kleypas sets the implausible fairy tale of Garrett Gibson, the only woman doctor in 1876 England, in working-class Clerkenwell, but this sanitized version of London has the squeaky-clean artifice of a toothpaste commercial. Garrett, a constable’s daughter, nonetheless earned a degree from the Sorbonne and, at age 28, has a state-of-the-art surgery plus a side gig subsidized by tycoon Rhys Winterborne (familiar from 2016’s Marrying Winterborne). Into this frankly unbelievable life slouches Ethan Ransom, a kind of Victorian James Bond who spends Tuesdays shadowing Garrett on neighborhood rounds. This makes him conveniently available to rescue her from inevitable harassers. He agrees to tutor her in street-fighting skills, and they scarcely resist the ensuing onslaught of lust. Ethan is a double agent engaged in taking down his corrupt government boss, and Garrett doesn’t know the risks she’s taking by getting involved with him. There’s a sense that Garrett has been cast as a doctor to excuse a liberal salting of research nuggets, and Ethan’s Kama Sutra–derived erotic skills are annoyingly orientalist. Such details do give an uncommon flavor to a familiar suspense plot, and the anatomical dialogue, while expected, is still good for a chuckle, but there’s little here for anyone other than series fans. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. (Mar.)