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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Hello Stranger

Narrator: Patti Murin

Macmillan Audio

ISBN: 9781250283788

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: 07/11/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

"Patti Murin offers a fun, vivacious performance of this lively romance...with steady pacing and a believable narration, this romance will charm listeners."

— AudioFile Magazine

This program includes an author's note and supplementary materials read by the author.

The glorious new novel from the beloved author whose bright, hopelessly romantic New York Times bestsellers have been called “My perfect 10 of a book” (Emily Henry) and cheered for their “speedy pacing and sexual tension for miles” (People).

Love isn’t blind, it’s just a little blurry.

Sadie Montogmery has had good breaks and bad breaks in her life, but as a struggling artist, all she needs is one lucky break. Things seem to be going her way when she lands one of the coveted finalist spots in a portrait competition. It happens to coincide with a surgery she needs to have. Minor, they say. Less than a week in the hospital they say. Nothing about you will change, they say. Upon recovery, it begins to dawn on Sadie that she can see everything around her, but she can no longer see faces.

Temporary, they say. Lots of people deal with this, they say. As she struggles to cope—and hang onto her artistic dreams—she finds solace in her fourteen-year-old dog, Peanut. Thankfully, she can still see animal faces. When Peanut gets sick, she rushes him to the emergency vet nearby.

That’s when she meets veterinarian Dr. Addison. And she’s pleasantly surprised when he asks her on a date. But she doesn't want anyone to know about her face blindness. Least of all Joe, her obnoxious neighbor who always wears a bowling jacket and seems to know everyone in the building. He’s always there at the most embarrassing but convenient times, and soon, they develop a sort of friendship. But could it be something more?

As Sadie tries to save her career, confront her haunting past, and handle falling in love with two different guys she realizes that happiness can be found in the places—and people— you least expect.

My Review

Katherine Center, the queen of comfort reads, returns following The Body Guard with her latest gem, HELLO, STRANGER —a heartwarming story of an artist whose life takes on a significant change where nothing is as it appears.


Sadie Montgomery is a struggling artist who is broke and barely making ends meet in her little studio apartment.

Her estranged surgeon father was unhappy when Sadie chose not to continue her medical career and followed in her mom's footsteps instead. He refused to help her out in the future due to this decision or offer his support. Plus, her evil stepmother Lucinda is horrible (her father remarried) and an evil stepsister.

Sadie paints portraits and is so excited that she has earned one of the coveted finalist spots in the competition that could earn her money to catch up. It would be life-changing. It was the same competition her mom placed in years ago. She died when Sadie was fourteen.

Tragedy strikes before the competition. She has a seizure in the middle of the street. A Good Samaritan saves her from being hit by a car.

Her evil step-sister Parker is at the hospital, and she receives the bad news. A malformed blood vessel in the brain: called a cavernoma. A lesion and needs to have surgery. The timing could not be worse.

A cavernoma is a cluster of abnormal blood vessels, usually found in the brain and spinal cord. They're sometimes known as cavernous angiomas, cavernous haemangiomas, or cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM).

After the surgery, she realizes she cannot see people's faces. Everyone is a stranger to her. How can she draw a portrait when she can see their faces?

Sadie's family is no help with the situation. A wicked stepsister and a stepmother, and her father constantly siding against her. Fortunately, she has her best friend, Sue, and her family, who have informally adopted her and serve as a great support network.

How will she cope?

Then she finds herself in a love triangle of all things. Two men, one a helpful Joe, who lives in the same apartment, and the goodhearted veterinarian who saved her dog Peanut.

As Sadie tries to save her career, confront her haunting past, and handle falling in love with two different guys, she realizes that happiness can be found in the places—and people— you least expect.

An uplifting, witty, emotional, heartwarming bittersweet story tackling highly charged topics of neurovascular (cavernoma, prosopagnosia-face blindness), coping mechanisms, and survival, blended with some light-hearted fun romance. You will root for Sadie until the end.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Patti Murin for a highly entertaining and lively performance. I enjoyed the author's note.

Thanks to Macmillan Audio for an ALC and St. Martin's Press for an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. #SMPInfluencers

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: July 11, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars

July 2023 Must-Read Books


An Amazon Best Book of July 2023:Reading Hello Stranger feels like drinking a cool glass of lemonade on a warm day—renewing and refreshing. Sadie experiences a breakthrough in her career she has been waiting years for—she is a finalist in a competition that comes with recognition and much needed prize money. Though, as fate would have it, at the same time Sadie is preparing for the competition, she is diagnosed with a non-life-threatening hereditary condition that impends her ability to create the entry piece. Sadie’s situation wasn’t trivial—there is a certain lightness and excitement in watching Sadie reckon with the cards she’s been dealt. As anyone who has experienced a change to their everyday reality, Sadie goes through stages of grief for what she has lost—but as a reader it’s beautiful to watch her develop acceptance of her situation, and growth as a person. Sadie’s interactions with her family, friends, and foes is so real—imperfect, flawed. Amidst all of this is a low-steam, mistaken-identity story with a twist of romance that will make you giddy with anticipation. The author’s note at the end is pure magic, will make romance readers feel seen, and will give non-romance readers a perfect view into our world.

—Kami Tei, Amazon Editor Review

"The latest from the author of The Bodyguard (2022) is a winsome tale of a woman overcoming adversity and learning to lean on the people who care about her."


"This charming, heartfelt romantic comedy has a well-told, unique storyline, and Sadie’s prosopagnosia feels deftly explained, explored, and treated with respect. There’s chemistry between the protagonists with a slow-burn relationship, but there’s also a focus on Sadie’s mental and emotional growth, as well as her artistic frustrations and problem-solving methods. Readers who enjoy Jenny Colgan and Susan Mallery will love this engaging, well-written romance from Center (The Bodyguard)."

--Library Journal

"With a thoroughly modern millennial heroine at the helm, Center takes Sadie’s life seriously and her struggles with adulting resonate even before her face blindness sets in. Meanwhile, a dash of humor and an endearing love story make the pages fly. Readers will be hooked."

-- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“[A]uthor Katherine Center is back this summer with another voice-driven, funny, heartfelt and romantic escapist novel.”

--Good Morning America Online

“Laugh-and-cry specialist Katherine Center (The Bodyguard) returns with the love story of talented artist Sadie Montogmery.”


“In this romantic comedy with depth, a health emergency leaves a struggling portrait artist unmoored with a possibly temporary diagnosis of face blindness.”

--Lansing State Journal

About the Author

Photo Credit: Skylar Reeves

BookPage calls Katherine Center “the reigning queen of comfort reads.” She’s the New York Times bestselling author of over half a dozen books, including How to Walk Away, Things You Save in a Fire, and What You Wish For. Katherine writes laugh-and-cry books about how life knocks us down―and how we get back up. She’s been compared to both Jane Austen and Nora Ephron, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” Her books have made countless Best-Of lists, including RealSimple’s Best Books of 2020, Amazon's Top 100 Books of 2019, Goodreads' Best Books of the Year, and many more. Bestselling author Emily Henry calls her summer 2022 book, The Bodyguard, “a shot of pure joy.” The movie adaptation of Katherine’s novel The Lost Husband (starring Josh Duhamel) hit #1 on Netflix, and her novel Happiness for Beginners is in production now as a Netflix original starring Ellie Kemper. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her husband, two kids, and their fluffy-but-fierce dog. WEBSITE

Check out my

Q&A Interview with Katherine!

We go behind the scenes of the book and the author.



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