Falling Angel, by Anne Stuart

>> Friday, October 15, 2004

Anne Stuart can always be counted on for something different. You never know exactly what you're getting with one of her books, even with her categories, and that appeals to me. Falling Angel is one of her old Harlequin Americans, and it sounded interesting.

Bad boys weren't meant to be angels... until Gabriel Falconi returned to Earth!

With just one last chance to redeem his immortal soul, the man suddenly felt truly alive. He could really taste mulled cider, feel snow melting on his skin, appreciate Christmas festivities... and still revel in the devilishly delicious vision of Carrie Alexander.

Unfortunately, he was sent to help the woman, not make love to her. And yet Gabriel trembled to touch his newfound angel-in-the-flesh. He began to believe that one single, heavenly night in her arms would be worth a whole eternity of flames.
Falling Angel was very, very readable and it had an interesting hero, but it had way too many problems for me to really enjoy it. What was good was very good, but what was bad was really horrible. My grade: a C+.

I enjoyed the main plot about the hero having to go back to Earth to earn his passage into heaven by saving three people whose lives his actions had destroyed. It kept me turning the pages like crazy, even if it wasn't particularly hard to guess who these three people were and what Gabriel was going to have to do to help them.

And I found the hero a very interesting character, especially his earlier incarnation as superficial, cold bastard Emerson MacVey. The conflict between the man he had been on Earth and the man he was now, carpenter Gabriel Falconi, was fascinating to read, even if I did think that he became Gabriel too easily at first. It seemed to be almost too quickly, the way he started to see things as Gabriel would see them, not Emerson, but later on his Emerson instincts did show up a bit more.

However, too many things rubbed me wrong. First and foremost, I absolutely detested Carrie, the heroine. I've read too many martyr heroines since I've started to read romance, but Carrie is hard to beat. She blames herself for everything and is determined to sacrifice herself to make up for what she has built up in her mind as the most horrible sin anyone could have committed... something which was basically no more than her trusting the wrong person to do a good thing for her town. She's one of those heroines who "forget" to eat, for instance. She refuses to take any care of herself and to ask for help when she's over her head, so the result is that people have to end up rescuing her all the time. She doesn't eat so she gets sick, and of course, she doesn't phone her friends to ask for help, so by the time they find her, she's very, very ill, and what could have been easy to solve has become a sickness that takes days and days of bedside vigils to cure. Typical Carrie, this.

I also didn't appreciate the message that poor people are good and rich people superficial and mean, as if poorness in itself was a virtue. It was a very heavy handed message, and I just hate being preached to.

Oh, well, I can't say I hated the book, but I wish Carrie had been written differently. It would have been a much better read.


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