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Stranger in the Mirror

Stranger in the Mirror by Laraine Anne Barker
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Still I heard those footsteps. I couldn't be imagining it. The sound was far more real than the echoes in the house. I took another look. And my heart did a double leap. For a black figure was running furiously down the side of the house. It burst into the sunshine--the very essence of what I had imagined crouching behind the kitchen door--my nightmare become reality.

As if it isn't enough to wake up in unfamiliar surroundings, being cared for by a man named Raoul who must be her husband but seems even more alien than the face staring at her from the mirror, the narrator of this fast-paced romantic suspense discovers there is something--and someone--in her past too terrifying to remember.

Awe-Struck Publishing; October 2005
109 pages; ISBN 9781587495175
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Title: Stranger in the Mirror
Author: Laraine Anne Barker
I opened my eyes to blankness.

It had to be the biggest shock of my life, worse than the moment of my birth, because that trauma--a purely physical one--was surely far less terrifying than waking to a mental void.

Where was I? What had happened? I turned my head. The movement hurt, but I ignored the pain. I received an impression of a drab room that was also dim despite the apparent brightness of the day beyond its tall, dirty windows. I was sure I'd never seen my surroundings before. Then I became aware of how weak I felt and realized I must be ill. But this couldn't be a hospital. Weren't hospitals clean and bright--and full of bustle?

Before I could think further, a head blotted out everything and I found myself looking into a man's face. Even in my bewildered state I couldn't help admiring his extreme good looks, the thick long lashes framing dark, anxious eyes whose lustrous depths were like a clear but bottomless pool, although their owner looked as though he hadn't slept for some nights. His light olive complexion was topped by a head of black hair that was so unruly its owner might just have climbed out of bed. Oddly this--and even the shadow that indicated he hadn't shaved for a while--only added to his attractiveness. But it was a stranger's face. Then I must be in hospital. And he must be a doctor.

"You're awake. Thank God!" he said, letting out his breath in a sigh. His voice was rich and deep, but hoarse with anxiety. "How are you feeling?"

He moved back a pace and I saw he couldn't be a doctor. Doctors didn't dress in shabby jeans and tee-shirts--at least not while on duty. And of course this room couldn't be a hospital room. For a start, hospitals didn't use beds as huge as the one in which I lay. It was clearly meant for a married couple...

"Where am I? What's happened?" The words came out in the raspy whisper of a voice that hadn't been used for a while.

He frowned, studying me thoughtfully. He spoke slowly, almost as though he thought I would have trouble understanding: "You have been in a car accident."

I tried to recall the accident, but there was nothing but blankness. My mind could conjure up no images whatsoever. I couldn't even imagine myself behind the wheel of a car. And when I struggled to picture myself in familiar surroundings--somewhere more comforting than where I was--I couldn't do that. But the worst thing was that I seemed to have no identity: I couldn't remember my own name. Perhaps if I could see my face...

"Do you have a mirror?" My request came out in a choked whisper.

From the dressing-table he picked up a hand mirror. To my surprise it was heavy, silver-backed and as bright as the room was dim. My hand could barely hold it as I lifted it to my face.

"See, your beauty is unmarked," he said with a fervor that, coming from a stranger, sounded odd.

I stared into the mirror.

I didn't know what to expect. But his words hadn't been just a euphemism to tell me my face was unscarred. The stranger studying me from the mirror would have been classed as beautiful by most people. Enormous, wide-spaced eyes of aqua-gray stared at me with my own bewilderment and inquiry. In spite of illness the oval face, although thin and pale, had flawless skin framed by curtains of silvery-blonde hair that would shine once the dirt had been washed away. The generous mouth--too sensitive, I thought in dismay--was quivering on the verge of tears. Only the exotic, catlike slant of the eyes gave the face enough character to stop it having the insipid sameness of looks paraded in beauty contests.

But the stranger in the mirror had no help or comfort to offer me.

I let the mirror drop to the counterpane and sank back on the pillows, tears squeezing themselves from under my closed eyelids, though I strove to check them. "Who am I? And who are you? I guess you must be my husband, but I've no idea what your name is, never mind my own."

Review: "To find out what happened to the girl, you need to read the book Stranger in the Mirror. Laraine Anne Barker deserves five stars for this suspenseful romance. I didn't want to put it down. Even after I read it, the book left an impact on me."

Reviewed by Wanda Maynard of Simegen Reviews, 5 STARS

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