Strangers - Barbara Elsborg I've read many books with suicidal characters, but usually only one of the protagonists is depressed while the other one helps the former heal. Strangers is the first book I've read where both the main characters are suicidal and it proves that two self-destructive individuals can rarely, if ever, have a healthy and healing relationship.

Charlie's a mega-star with a drug, alcohol, and sex addiction whereas Kate's a waitress with low self-esteem, little to no self-respect (at least where Charlie's concerned), and no note-worthy people-reading skills even after everything she has been through. I was more than a little curious about how Elsborg would pull off a relationship between these two, but I'm actually very disappointed with the way things played out. If only Elsborg had taken a few chapters in the beginning to get the reader better acquainted with Charlie and Kate as independent adults before having them fall instantly in lust love, I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed the story a lot more.

My main concern is how abusive their relationship felt. Charlie physically hurt Kate twice in his anger which is the exact number of times he got that mad. The first time, he about raped the poor girl and the second time left a bruise as well. If Charlie had gotten angry a third time, I'm sure he would have harmed her then too.

There are also numerous scenes that went somewhat like this and further strengthened my belief that these two are not good for each other at all:

KATE: I'm so mad at him! I knew he was just using me for sex and now it's been two days and he hasn't even called! What was I thinking, believing The Great Charlie Storm could actually be interested in little old me?
CHARLIE: Hey, Kate! Sorry I didn't contact you; I lost my phone again. I didn't mean to ignore you. I'll make it up to you, promise.
KATE: *grumbling* If you say so...
CHARLIE: C'mon, Kate, don't be that way. I love you! I need you! You're the best thing that's ever happened to me!
KATE: Well, okay...
CHARLIE: So I'm forgiven? *smiles his mega-watt smile*
KATE: Of course! Let's fuck!

Kate and Charlie have undeniable chemistry, even during their most depressing moments, but that's pretty much all they have. That, and novelty.There's no trust, an unhealthy (at least for Kate) addiction disguised as love, and pure lust taken for genuine care. Kate and Charlie made the same mistakes over and over and Elsborg didn't manage to convince me at all about the likelihood of a superstar and waitress being a forever-and-ever type couple.

And if there weren't enough signs already, within a week of Kate and Charlie breaking up over the most ridiculous misunderstanding, Charlie nearly slept with another woman. He would have gone through with it as well, had he not been interrupted (his words, not mine). It wouldn't have been that huge of a deal had it happened when they were initially starting out, but after all the declarations of undying love have already been said, after they've even met each other's parents, within the last 5 chapters of the book, he goes and does something like that? It certainly proves exactly how much he's changed since the beginning. Which is, evidently, not very much at all.

That said, there were a couple of positive points too, like how the dialogue was completely natural and the writing style thoroughly absorbing. Charlie and Kate had some pretty sweet moments as well, I admit. If only the abusive and character development factors had been modified, this could have been a truly heart-warming story.

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