A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger begins with a perfect day. The narrator and main character, Charlotte (Charley) Lambert, is in control of her life and most everything associated with her life. She is a driven communications executive at a pharmaceutical corporation about to release a world altering breakthrough medication. She volunteers at a local animal shelter. She is learning a new language to further her career. She eats only healthy foods and jogs daily. She celebrates her friends’ achievements into the wee hours then forgoes sleep to plan. Her life revolves around her ability to plan. Charlotte is the quintessential planner. She is, as she calls herself, “Charley Lambert, the Scottish Amazon” and is capable of accomplishing any challenge she attempts.
In her novel, A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger, Lucy Robinson has created a surprisingly sympathetic character in Charlotte Lambert. Charlotte likes control. The one area she seems to lack control is in her personal relationships with men. After an accident, Charlotte has to adjust her life to her new circumstances. In her vulnerability, Charlotte opens up and accepts the help of her family and friends. She takes on her friend’s suggestion and begins a new business as an internet dating aide for the hapless communicators; this is temporary until she is able to take on her former life again.
Charlotte is funny, smart and, as her friend Hailey likes to remind her, sometimes mental. Hailey and Charlotte’s twin sister Ness prove to be voices of reason as Charlotte falls deeper into love with a man she only knows from an online dating service. It was Hailey who suggested Charlotte start the business. Charlotte was responsible for introductions between Hailey and her boyfriend; Hailey sees Charlotte’s unique ability to read a person’s inner character and communicate for that person. Charlotte’s surprising business aid is her flatmate, Sam Bowes, who only works temporary jobs to keep his acting options open. It is this odd group, plus parents, an artist younger sister and Granny Helen, who assists Charlotte in an effort to help her mend both her bones and her broken heart over the recent engagement of her boss to another woman.
A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger is fun, funny, sympathetic, and engaging. Lucy Robinson handles language well and has developed a group of supporting characters who are as well rounded and entertaining as Charlotte. Through the novel, the reader is involved in Charlotte’s life changes no matter how many turns those changes take. Despite a brief slowdown in pace through the second chapter after Charlotte’s accident and a little drag in email chats, the novel is fast paced and yields a satisfying read from beginning to end. There are a couple of surprises through the novel that propel the story forward and are not contrived or forced. I enjoyed Charlotte’s interaction with the other characters, but truly got pleasure from Charlotte’s internal communication with herself. I think it’s these internal insights and her friends’ unabashedly honest comments that make Charlotte a compelling character.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Lucy Robinson. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.