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The Cruelest Stranger

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The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and two cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind—and the umbrella he left behind.

Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.

They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.

I never could have anticipated his...

And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric.

They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.

This one’s ours.

300 pages

First published January 20, 2020

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Winter Renshaw

61 books4,110 followers

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5 stars
2,546 (36%)
4 stars
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3 stars
1,406 (20%)
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105 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 779 reviews
Profile Image for Dilek VT.
1,529 reviews1,340 followers
February 23, 2021
This book had potential but unfortunately the outcome is disappointing. I read “Absinthe” by this writer and it was really good but this one is nowhere close to it.

The writer seems to have wanted to put all kinds of tropes in one book and it is, for that reason, a shallow book because while trying to deal with each trope in 280 pages, none turns out to be deep enough, or none is convincing enough.

I thought this was going to be a "hate-to-love" story but it wasn’t as simple as that. There are lots of major tropes that are used all together, which makes it a mess.

We have tropes such as foster system kids, adoption, evil mother/evil brother, major illness/heart transplant, death of a loved one (dead ex), and as if all that is not enough, we also learn that .


The book starts with a misunderstanding and the hero treats the heroine in a disgusting way. He is extremely rude to her. He is also full of wrong assumptions about her. When they meet again by accident a few times more, he takes his rudeness and cruelty to a higher level.

However, the heroine is a bit weird, too. She is like Pollyanna, and I don’t like Pollyanna. I mean I don’t like people who still treat others with extreme kindness although they treat them like shit. This woman believes that there is always something good behind people’s cruel façade and she treats the hero like a puzzle and tries to solve him. However, how she does it and what she does is also insane, writing him emails and sending him her telephone number etc., saying if he needs a friend she will always be there. She believes that hurt people hurt people so that's why he was cruel to her. Well, maybe, I shouldn’t blame the man for his wrong assumptions, she was too good to be true and he was right to think that she was fake 😊

So, in short, these two people can’t be any more different from each other. She is all sun shines and unicorns while he is dark and bitter.


Some readers say that things happened so quickly. They are right in a way. But if you ask me, the main problem is not "how fast" but how it makes you feel that there is something missing. That's why, it feels like things happened so quickly. In fact, the transition is missing. There is no transition from being strangers to lovers.

It feels like some chapters or pages are missing. At first, he is all cruel with his wrong assumptions. Then, he hires someone to do some research about her. He learns the truth, he learns that she is not a gold digger and she was not lying about her past life. He realizes that he was wrong about her. However, there is no groveling or proper apologies. They are on top of each other all of a sudden because she is so forgiving!

Their becoming lovers was not smooth, nor was it convincing. I was like, “What did I miss? How did this happen now?” Did I miss some chapters?”

And because it happens awkwardly, it doesn't make you feel. I wasn’t feeling anything, and thus, I didn’t care much about whatever happened later.

After they became lovers, the book lost me. I just read on feeling nothing.


I think the writer was dealing with so many issues at the same time that she failed in delivering all of them in a successful way.

Romance was not convincing. Their passion or connection was zero in my eyes.

His transformation from a bitter, rude and cruel person to a loving man who wants a family was definitely not convincing, either!

The coincidence about what really binds them together was way too much in all this mess. . And also, their reactions to that matter were so shallow.

As I said, there was no time or place in a 280-page book to deal with those major issues in a proper way. They were doomed to be all shallow!

All in all, we can say that the book fails to deliver a good romance because it is lost in the sea of too many tropes.

If you want to read something good from this writer, I would recommend that you try "Absinthe".


* You can follow my instagram page from here
Profile Image for Dora Koutsoukou.
1,720 reviews337 followers
January 23, 2020
2 🤭🤕⭐️s

Let me catch my breath since I have just finished this cruel stranger’s marathon story.
The first couple of chapters had me hooked and I was very excited. Astaire and Bennett were totally opposite characters, yet very interesting. She was joyful and pleasant, he was an arrogant and cruel arsehole.

Bennett was cold, indifferent and remote, I couldn’t believe he responded to Astaire’s emails and wrote so many words!!! It was so out if his character.
Astaire, towards the ending mentioned she always knew Bennett was a giant softie on the inside, while he was despicable and so rude to her!!!

And as the plot was building, there were so many elements emerging, where one succeeded the other and there was no time neither for development nor to catch up!
Moreover, they were so interrelated and so coincidental that the outcome was not genius at all.

Regarding the cover, it was fantastic but completely irrelevant.
Profile Image for Syndi.
2,794 reviews616 followers
May 28, 2020

I listen up to 2 hours of the audio book. I hate putting a book under DNF. Sadly, I give up. The blurb promising so much of mystery and hot romance. However I can not connect with anything in this book. The beginning of this book is sexy then it turns cold. I guees the problem is the main characters trying their best to reveal who they are to each other.

Miss Renshaw also fails to build the tension, mystery and the romance afterward. It does not grab my attention.

2 stars
Profile Image for Nikki ღ Navareus.
884 reviews411 followers
February 15, 2020

I really enjoyed this story. Bennett was such a bastard to Astaire through a great deal of the story (and I SO love these asshole heroes!). Astaire was a bit of a pushover, kindly taking all the shit Bennett's threw her way. It was fun watching Bennett finally thaw out and allow himself to be loved for the first time in his life. The story turned out to have a very sweet HEA, with a bit of ugly family drama thrown in for fun. I loved it all.
Profile Image for Arena♡.
402 reviews570 followers
November 4, 2020
DNF @40%

I tried, okay? I really, really did. But this book was just so absurd and unrealistic!

Bennet was a dickhead and Astaire was a dumb-chick. She didn’t know when to quit it and came of as clingy. Any more eye-rolling, and I swear my eyes would’ve been stuck smh

He in not so kind words, dismisses her and I believe he called her “an asshole” and “a scammer” who was trapping men by telling them sob stories. Bennet, baby, I hate to break it to you, but people actually have difficult and tragic lives, just because you have an opinion of someone, doesn’t mean you’re right

Honestly, Bennet infuriated me with him not taking her seriously and calling her a scammer and she was worse! You’re life is tragic, I get it, but you just don’t e-mail strangers about how tragic it is!!

Even after all of this, she thinks this:

’He thinks about me. When we’re not together wonder about to me. He wanted so badly to know more about me that he hired someone to do his leg work. But why? The man could easily have deleted our string of emails and left it at that.

✨The number of things wrong with this statement✨

‘he thinks about me…’ ofc he does, you randomly texted him offering your condolences and kept showing up wherever he was

○ Where she mentions ‘he thinks about me when we’re not together’ honey, you literally just got to know each other’s names, can you not act like you’ve know each other for age’s and are dating or something cause you’re not!

‘he wanted so badly to know more about me…’ the only reason he found out shit about you, was because he wanted to fuck you. Not to mention that after you left his place, he called another girl over cause you didn’t sleep with him (anyone wondering, then: he didn’t sleep with the ow, but he still called her over and almost did it)

‘ but why? The man could easily have deleted…’ Darling, honey, hate to break this to you but the anyone literally any normal human would have done the same. You were randomly emailing him shit and telling him the story of your life, obviously he had someone check you out to make sure you didn’t run from a mental fucking hospital, cause you sure as fuck were acting like it!

There were so many co-incidences in this book! Like they kept meeting each other everywhere, wherever they went! Also, putting a bunch of triggers in a book doesn’t give personality to the character nor is it considered character development!

Needless, to say I wouldn’t recommend this book at all. I think I would’ve enjoyed it if it weren’t for the dickheadness of Bennet and idiocity of Astaire.
Profile Image for Myla.
608 reviews101 followers
January 21, 2020

After having read just the first few pages, I was completely hooked. I stayed up all night to finish this novel - because I just couldn't put it down. A heartwarming story wherein characters were believable and flawed and wonderful.

Astaire a pre-school teacher who grew up in a not so ideal environment but it didn't make her hard or jaded. She has this positive attitude and chooses to see the good in people. So, meeting Bennett is really a challenge to her personality.

Bennett the arrogant, dark and brooding businessman. His attitude comes from how he was brought up by his so-called family. I really didn't like Bennett very much he's just so mean to Astaire. But as the author expertly added depth and dimension to his character, Bennett really grew on me.

I thoroughly enjoy how it all started with Astaire and Bennett. Scenes are funny, sweet, romantic, sexy and infuriating when they are together. As the story progresses, there's a twist that will make the plot more captivating. The Cruelest Stranger is everything I want in an enemy to lovers trope. Ms. Renshaw nailed this book, in my opinion.

Note: ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Profile Image for FictionalDen.
245 reviews191 followers
April 5, 2020

I may be a cruel bastard, but I’m no monster. And there’s a difference.

Bennett is a dickhead. And Astaire is a ray of sunshine who just can’t help herself and meddle into a complete strangers life by sending him an email consoling him for his loss. First I was annoyed with her being so nice to a dickhead like Bennett, it was completely unnecessary but then later I just got over it because that’s how her personality really is. You can’t really change a person. Especially a fictional character.

But my issue with this book is that ITS REALLY FAST PACED. They just met and are sending each other heated emails and then the next minute they are friends and then saying I love you to each other like whaaat did I miss something??

And the whole transplant scenario reminded me of a korean drama called Beating heart and it has the SAME story line.

Let me just say this book had potential. But it was just too fast paced. And TOOO much happening. You know?

Profile Image for Bookgasms Book Blog.
2,713 reviews1,266 followers
January 18, 2020
Anyone who knows me knows that fictional mean boys make the world go round. THE MEANER THE BETTER! There is something about the spirited banter and the back and forth that has made me an addict. For that reason I loved Bennett Schoenback from the get go. He was cruel and heartless (oh the irony!) with a huge dose of cynical charm that I could not get enough of. At first his connection with Astaire was tumultuous at best but after getting to know one another, a love story was born. I thought this story was sexy, heartfelt, full of drama and emotional gut punches and I loved every minute of it! 

What I especially loved about this story was the twists and surprises that added an edge to the story. While some were obvious, others knocked me flat out. I enjoyed The Cruelest Stranger so much because of these twist and turns. Renshaw's story wouldn't be complete without the hot fiery chemistry between Bennett and Astaire and the nerve wracking climax. This story was a win and I am so onboard for her next one! Bravo! 5 stars! ~Ratula 
Profile Image for Anna.
1,070 reviews7 followers
January 27, 2020
Well, HE was definitely just one fine SON OF a BITCH!!! Till 60-70% of this book.. His behavior was just... Cruel, Cruel, Cruel...
She was a goodie-two-shoes, ... Too much gold heart here, but well, i liked her: she didnt have sex with him till 60-70%... She was kind and all that but yes, she had a backbone as well... Although she grew up in system, and only from 14 years old she got a stable home... She was through a lot in her life... And then she went and took a pity of this cruel man.
Too much family drama, i think author didnt know how to make this hero a “better person”- she wrote about his cruel bad family and how this affected him... Well, damn, i dont care about his background, you can be better person just for a sake of it.
Not safe for safe readers.
Profile Image for Anne E ♡ emo + OTT Hs.
195 reviews67 followers
October 31, 2021
MEH or the BAD: ***SPOILERS***
Almost DNFed @ 15% coz writing wasn't focused so lacked romance/emotions/sex chemistry. Also didn't like characters at this point, with chaser-stalker 24yo teacher h who wouldn't take cruel loner 30yo businessman's H's curt rejection of her unasked-for help and kept writing to him and trying to push her unwanted & incorrect analysis of the little she knew of him to his face even when he kept telling her to stop doing it. Yet she'd deny her attraction towards him as motivation for her bugging him when he'd confront her on it.

After 15% of the book, the writing became more focused on their romance. Characters developed so h didn't seem as stalker-y & romance not so 1-sided since both H&h's characters & romance started unfurling. After 15%, overall writing more focused so we get more important details like emotions & H&h's characters, especially when H's heart problem became evident & we find out that his heart transplant 1 year ago was actually from h's dead-fiance's heart donation. Liked that h's romance & feelings for her dead fiance wasn't focused on too much & laid out more as how she learned to see life more positively & the serendipity of it all. Some angst from about 50% on. Writing became tighter & more focused & smoother after about 40%-50% so went from a 1-star rating to a 3-star average overall with last 50% with a 3.5/4-star rating.
Profile Image for Grecia Robles.
1,407 reviews309 followers
September 28, 2020
Fue muy adictivo.

Tiene un comienzo que te atrapa al instante.

Tiene un protagonista, asshole, huraño con esa aura oscura y una protagonista que es toda bondad y positivismo a pesar de las cosas malas que le han pasado. Son dos polos opuestos.

Siento que la historia no explotó todo su potencial que daba para más, me hubiera gustado más de la interacción de ellos con la niña.

El drama telenovelezco estuvo de más y siento que todo se resolvió muy rápido pero me gustó el epílogo soy muy cursi pues.
Profile Image for Dísir.
1,661 reviews168 followers
January 28, 2020
Bennett’s and Astaire’s story takes off on the wrong foot, then slips bewilderingly into instalove with a relationship built on a clash of personalities and a series of coincidences, each one more mind-boggling than the past. That, in short, is ‘The Cruelest Stranger’.

It was the title that was eye-catching—and I’m always intrigued by grumpy (sometimes hurtful) characters, though Winter Renshaw gave some basis for understanding the kind of behaviour Bennett showed. Like several asshole ‘heroes’ written to specifically show character growth and starting off as an unlikeable protagonist, Bennett slowly thawed out (but not that much) to reveal a heart that was part flesh at least.

The bigger picture that Renshaw presents is the monstrous, manipulative family in contrast to a stable, happy one—and the assumptions made along the way that threaten to tear relationships apart. Bennett seeking some kind of vengeance against his own brother played a secondary but important role in this, giving some credence and some backing for his callousness.

There’s always the danger that the reader may or may not end up seeing Bennett in a different light by the end of the story; certainly Bennett’s words and sometimes-vindictive actions didn’t endear him to me at all despite the reasons he seemed to produce for his behaviour; in contrast, Astaire’s soft, rose-tinted optimism and hopeful-caretaker personality however, came across as naive in contrast to Bennett’s hot-and-cold.

Their relationship—if you could really call it thus—was rocky from the beginning, aided by a surprising number of coincidences that is so unlikely to happen in real life, Bennett and Astaire’s connection would have been otherwise tenuous without these touches of ‘kismet’. It was hard to see past just how much of polar opposites they were, more so when Bennett strung Astaire along with some hint of spite in the early part of the story. That they made their way from hostile strangers to doting ‘parents’ so quickly somehow lacked a certain excitement of a burn that I think I missed here.
Profile Image for Keri Loves Books.
1,237 reviews176 followers
January 18, 2020
Rain Brings New Beginnings

A heart-wrenching and heartwarming enemies-to-lovers romance that will make you believe in fated soul mates.

One night in a random bar and both their lives change forever. He’s the biggest jerk she’s ever met. She’s sunshine and all the good things about life. He’s a pessimist but sees it as being a realist. She always gives everyone the benefit of the doubt and looks at the bright side of life. She’s the light to his dark.

You never know the pain that someone else is going through. Astaire knew that better than anyone. Even after the all she has lost, she still believes in love and kindness. So when she sees a stranger that she believes is suffering, she reaches out. And so their story begins.

Bennett is a man who lashes out first because he expects the worst, which is exactly what he does when he meets Astaire. Coming from the family he has you can understand. Astaire is not deterred and refuses to be cruel like him. However, as much as he doesn’t want her in his life, he can’t stop thinking about her.

He’s a very wealthy business owner dealing with his own baggage. She’s a kindergarten teacher trying to make the most of life. An unexpected meeting changes everything. Their lives are intersected in more ways than they realize. Sometimes fate knows better than we do.

This is an emotional enemies-to-lovers, fated love story. Bennett doesn’t believe in that stuff or even marriage, but Astaire is about to change his life for the better. He is about to be schooled on all matters of the heart. They have amazing chemistry and a connection that’s unavoidable. He never expected her, but he’s never letting her go. Love is messy, but it’s worth it. Together they’ll both find the family they deserve.
Profile Image for Jennifer Hinson.
493 reviews115 followers
March 8, 2021
“I may be a cruel bastard, but I’m no monster.”


I’ve only read one other book from Winter, but Hate the Game was such an phenomenal read that I decided right then I would read ANYTHING she released. When I saw this one hit, I added it to my Kindle library before I read the blurb.... that’s how much faith I had in her abilities (again, based off one single experience). I was eager to dive into this one, but in an effort to stick to list order I resisted as long as I could. That was until I made the mistake of reading the blurb & knew I couldn’t wait a minute longer.....

In Hate the Game, she wrote Talon Gold as this amazingly sweet yet alpha good guy so I was beyond curious to see how she would do at creating a cruel antihero. I was nervous BUT those nerves were overridden by my desire to see a different side of Winter....one where she had to make the reader fall in love with a character they likely despised early on. No easy feat, so how did she do? I love Talon & Ira, so much so the mere mention of them makes me want to relive their story. However, she created a different kind of affection from me for Bennett & Astaire.... their love story is certainly different, starting in a way that I wasn’t entirely sure how she could pull off changing the way I despised Bennett, but she did, oh boy did she ever. This was everything I expected from Winter yet so much more at the same time. The way she was able to create this great love story that features these intricate details, weaving them together in a way that can have even the most cynical person believing in words like kismet & fate....there were so many lessons to be learned from this story & these characters. I could not put it down, devouring it in a single sitting & cementing Winter’s place as one of my new (to me) fav writers.

Overall Story/Plot: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Bennett: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
Astaire: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Emotional Connection: ❤️❤️❤️❤️1/2

Believe in Fate Scale: 💫💫💫💫💫
Angst Scale: 🖤🖤🖤🖤
Steamy Scale: 🔥🔥

Book Facts:
POV: Dual
About: An enemies-to-lovers/chance meeting type standalone featuring two characters that are polar opposites yet connected in so many intricate ways. One chance meeting, a case of mistaken identity leads Astaire to follow the cruel stranger to the one place that breaks her heart yet creates a need to know more. Her good-hearted nature causes her to send an email, an email that sets them on a course that will change both of their lives. Bennett may be cruel, but there is more than meets the eye & Astaire may just be the one to thaw that cold heart.
Safe Read? Yes, features no cheating or any other triggering situations.
How does it end? Has a HEA with an extended epilogue.

Final Thoughts:
Positives: The “fate/kismet” aspect of it, Astaire, the pace, how every little piece only enhances the overall story, the “shock” moments, the authenticity/believability of the love story, the connection to characters.
Negatives: Can’t think of any.
Writing: Let me start by saying, I know a book is really special when I don’t want to take even a single moment to jot down notes, confident every moment is too important to forget when I get ready to write a review. From that very first interaction, you can FEEL there is something much bigger at play.... that they have a connection that hasn’t been revealed to us (or them). That kind of excitement can’t be forced, thankfully Winter has mastered the process. When those revelations come, they are truly shocking & so special & just everything. I didn’t see it coming, having to take a moment.....
I love all the ways their paths are so intricately connected.....making you confident that kismet/fate exists with their story

Bennett is a hard one to love, much less like in the beginning....Winter does a great job in that first interaction of showcasing him as this awfully cold & cruel man, but you also just know there is something else there. It is no way takes away from your dislike of him, in fact he does himself zero favors & instead creates this sympathy for Astaire. I LOVE that Astaire is so patient without being a push-over, she doesn’t just put up with his cruelty or fall at his feet....but she also doesn’t allow him to change how amazingly goodhearted she is in the process.

I love that despite their love story being such a prominent focus, the little side plots & drama only enhance the main focus instead of take away from it.... everything works together to create one altogether beautiful story.

This is an easy recommend for me. It gave me everything I look for in a truly great read....masterfully developed characters, vital side plots, a believable story & connection, just enough angst & drama, but more than anything? This was an incredibly beautiful & well written love story that I could not put down. There is no way you can read this & not walk away happier because of it.

“You’re my person. You’re my reason. You’re my whole damn world.”
Profile Image for Kristiej.
1,173 reviews71 followers
January 31, 2020
I’ve long been a fan of Winter Renshaw and consider her a hidden gem of an author and I would love to see other readers discover her.

Astaire is a young woman grieving. Her fiancé died in a car crash way too soon. And what makes it sadder is she grew up in foster care and has no family. She does have a job she loves though, as a kindergarten teacher. But it’s time she starts to move on and she is waiting in a bar one wet and rainy night for a blind date. She approaches a guy who she thinks might be her date, only to be blown away by his rudeness. And he really is rude to her, a complete stranger. But despite it, when she notices he left his umbrella behind she tries to return it until she finds him heading into a funeral parlor and what with the recent loss of her fiance, her heart softens until another interaction and meeting and each time he’s just a cynical as ever. But Astaire is nothing if not an optimist and she refuses to believe he’s as mean as he comes across.

Turns out he’s both. Bennett is both cruel and soft. He was raised by a monster of a mother and an equally cruel and sadistic brother and he’s had to cover himself in layer after layer of coldness in order to protect himself.

But when a little girl is mysteriously thrust into his life, a little girl with close ties to Astaire, Bennet finally begins to let her in and she knows she’s been right all along, there is something special about him. Astaire is so good. She hasn’t let all the losses she’s experienced harden her heart at all and she has so much to offer Bennett. And though it takes a while, he sees how special she is. And while at the start Bennett isn’t the easiest hero to like, it isn’t long before we readers see beneath his icy exterior to the caring man he is underneath and who he could have been all along given the right circumstances.. This is another book I’m sure I’ll read again.

As I said, she is an autobuy author and one I would love to see more readers discover. I’ve read a number of her books now. There was one I read a few years ago that I HATED and declared that was it, I was finished with this author. But I’m ever so glad I didn’t listen to me because I was wrong. So try her, try this one. It’s good.
Profile Image for Ria.
148 reviews497 followers
January 23, 2020
Had so much potential to be a 5 star read but it just missed the mark.
Super disappointing.

Profile Image for Becca.
127 reviews4 followers
February 9, 2020

First of all the book started well then its just when to the left to the left and became so unrealistic and complicated. There were so many things happening at once, so many coincidental meeting, so many secret coming out at once. It was so easily predictable. No atom of suspense. The Hero is the greatest asshole I have ever come across while the Heroine no comments for her. The additional character lets just say they didn’t have any impact in the book. Also, the way the author was just throwing the misunderstandings between the H and h was just funny as if she is writing a telemundo series.

Yeah the Hero did undergo a heart surgery but what with this line
“There’s an ache in my chest, a deep void that wasn’t there an hour ago. And then it hits me—he didn’t have a heart, so he stole mine.” Seriously bruv
So what does he have ??? Stone

Then we have another person saying the opposite
“At the end of the day, he’s this rich, lonely guy with a heart of pure gold. Like … Batman.” WOW 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

A few moment later Heroine:
“And I’m kicking myself because from the very beginning, you showed me who you really were. Your heart of gold was in the details. In the little things. All along. And I hate that I doubted you for one minute.”.

From the h to the H... Jesus takes the wheel
“When people look at you, they either see Bruce Wayne … or they see Batman. I think you were her Batman.”

Thats it I give up
Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,681 reviews596 followers
October 24, 2020
4.5 Stars

Wow! I absolutely loved the banter between Astaire and Bennett. These two were so much fun and Astaire definitely stole the show while not backing down and going head to head with Bennett.

Yes, there were many OTT angsty situations, but for reason, to me, they just worked.
Profile Image for Bree.
155 reviews
February 4, 2020
*Sigh* not in a good way. The Cruelest Stranger has a lot going on. I don’t know why the author thought she needed to insert every single theme into one book that is humanly possible. I’ve read other books by her and this one really missed the mark for me. SMH I don’t usually do this, but let me give you a rundown... with spoilers. I feel like I need to show you the complete ridiculousness that is happening here.

Astaire is a teacher who was in the foster system as a child bouncing all around. Early on in her life the only person who loved her dies then the love of her life dies. A year later while on a blind date, she meets this other guy who is an uber rich, arrogant prick who is just misunderstood (eye roll) and is a good guy behind the prick exterior. His estranged druggie adapted sister just died (wow third death) This sister happens to have a love child that he didn’t know about with their other brother (yup). The super smart love child is in Astaires classroom who, by total chance, Astaire wants to adopt but financially cannot. The sister leaves the prick the love child. (Go figure) And then we find out he is a heart transplant recipient. The prick with no heart literally has somebody else’s heart. (Ok. I hear ya) Seriously tho, all this happens by 30%! It’s exhausting. It’s like small character explosions on every page. So, Astaire and Prick run into each other all over and eventually his ‘hardened walls’ break and BOOM instalove. Not without some serious details though. Like the heart he now has is her old fiancés (hmm), she has this sudden love of theatre but the building she frequents is falling down and ironically for sale (I bet you see where that part goes), the baby-daddy-brother and evil mother wanting to ‘rid’ of the little girl, and Prick gives Astaire sole custody of the little girl if something should happen to him (go figure... again). PS we’re at 66% now. *deep breath* Some of the above events are revisited in super specific detail. Others are touch and go. Never to be mentioned again. There are added threats and miscommunications ending in of course marriage and another baby. (Duh) BAM! DONE! So there ya got it. Lots of... stuff. Needless to say, The Cruelest Stranger was not my favorite. It’s kinda weird but with all these words, I felt zero connection to any of the characters. In all actuality that was my biggest disappointment.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Beneath The Covers Blog.
1,512 reviews486 followers
January 29, 2020
I went into this book blindly, intrigued by the title alone–a title that gave me the impression it was to be an enemies-to-lovers story. And in its own compelling and ambiguous way, it is. But between the complex layers of story line is woven a perception of opposites attract – a story of two damaged and flawed characters, but where one is bitter and pessimistic, the other is compassionate and sincere.

The Cruelest Stranger is an emotional love story of redemption and second chances, a romance that makes you believe that everything happens for a reason. Fate….destiny….how separate events in two characters’ lives lead them on a path to finding one another, where circumstances continuously force both of their worlds to collide. Their pasts may be heartbreaking, tragic, and dysfunctional at times, but it’s one woman’s determination to save a man from himself, to show him there’s more to life than just “existing”, that love and family is what truly matters at the end of the day.

The intricate yet complicated relationship between Bennett and Astaire, in correlation to the magnificent writing and narrative, was an emotional tidal wave of loneliness, animosity, and angst. Yet when you strip away the pain and cruelty, you are given a beautiful and romantic story of atonement, peace, and acceptance….that at the darkest of times, light can always be found.

*ARC provided for a voluntary honest review.* ~Kelly
Profile Image for Jamie Campbell.
514 reviews142 followers
October 24, 2020
what an emotional beautiful well-written story!
I was hooked on the first page. once I started reading I couldn't put it down and ended up finishing it at 3:23 in the morning.
I absolutely loved this book. this author is definitely one that will be on my to be reading in the future list.

If that sick bastard wants to raise Honor, he’ll have to pry her from my cold, dead hands.
he was so great for Honor

When I took it upon myself to approach your date to let him know with exactly whom he was dealing, I strolled up to him from behind—where it just so happened I was able to catch a glimpse of the dick pic he was in the process of sending to another woman.
It’s an image I would pay an ungodly amount of money to un-see, but seeing how we’re lightyears away from that kind of technology, I’ll have to hope and pray that one day the visual of his five-inch uncut ‘gem’ will be wiped clean from my memory. Perhaps someday, I’ll be able to eat button mushrooms again without that nauseating graphic flashing through my mind.
Profile Image for Thuy Taylor.
1,185 reviews10 followers
March 11, 2021
This is my favorite WR book. Bennett and Astaire had the worst accidental meet up. She thought there was a possibility that he was her blind date, but Bennett is angry, exasperating, infuriating, standoffish, a big ole meanie to her, just by her trying to ask a question. GAHHHHH, I felt my anger rise when that happened to her. This guy, really? But, when someone is that angry, there is a backstory there. Astaire is wanting to find out, she always looks on the bright side of things. There is something about Bennett where she just wants find out more. She's just intrigued, and there is something about her that he's curious about.

These two somewhat become friends as they slowly tread lightly on their new fragile friendship. Bennett grew up filthy rich, a family with mountains of baggage. He is going through some rough times internally, but a surprise hits him, and he's going to do anything and everything to make it work. I love seeing Bennett slowly break down his barriers to allow Astaire to help him and show him what real love is. I love seeing this guy fall completely in love with people who are important to him. This is definitely a book to be read. I could not put this one down. The writing was great, it flowed very seamlessly, and I really wanted more epilogues!!!!!! Love Love Love Bennett!!!!
Profile Image for Natalie Brooks.
1,044 reviews14 followers
February 29, 2020
2.5 stars. This was pretty painful. All of the characters were too extreme. The extremely evil mother and brother. The extremely naive, overstepping heroine. The extremely cruel-then-whiplash-not-cruel hero.

As I’ve found with other books by this author, the elements are there to make a good book, in terms of the plot. But the writing and character development do not do the plot justice. In the hands of a different writer...

I checked my read shelf and saw that I’ve had this same frustration with this author multiple times before. She sits on my disappointing authors shelf. I’ll try to remember not to read more books by her.
957 reviews6 followers
January 31, 2020
Ugh ... doormat of a woman obsessed with the alpha billionaire super important tall dark and handsome jerk that every girl wants by killing him with kindness after he repeatedly treats her like trash. 👏🏽 Awesome, yay, just what your female readers want to read. Yeah, NO! Lame! Skip! DNF 50%
Profile Image for ✨Lucy❣️.
93 reviews22 followers
March 10, 2020
4 golden hearts

It was a raining evening and Astaire was meeting a blind date at a local pub. A man only described with strong features. She notices the lonely hot guy sitting in the corner. Assuming that she hit the jackpot, she approaches the man only to be send with her tail between her legs straight back to her corner. Except Astaire isn’t “get the hint” kind of gal. She’s the kind to follow the mystery man straight out the door into the rain. He doesn’t know it yet, but he soon will want the meaningful little things, the quiet nights, the one to fill in the voids, and he will want it all...with her.

Schoenbach family live by one rule, entitlement. To have the right to behave like selfish righteous pricks, along with their good looks, wealth, no fucks given attitude. When Astaire meets the youngest Schoenbach, Bennett. She can’t escape his curt attitude, because beneath his tough exterior is his true colors. His cruel attitude is all a facade, underneath is a heart of pure gold.

Some of the best gifts in life are the ones you don’t expect. This is exactly what ‘The Cruelest Stranger’ was from beginning to end, a gift. Astaire was meant to meet Bennett that night, just like Bennett was meant to receive the heart of an angel. Together they will form the most perfect little family. Even though he is on borrowed time.

“Statistically, twenty-five percent of heart transplant patients don’t survive past five years,” he says. “Stop. We’re not going to focus on that. We’re going to focus on the seventy-five percent who do survive past five years …”

Winter Renshaw has the gift to entwine words perfectly. You will fill all through you, a complete rush. I was hooked on the Bennett and Astaire story, and all the possibilities of a wonderful future, because together they can weather any storm.

This book is a stand-alone with a HEA.
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