I know, I know. But before you go jumping to conclusions, let me explain. For those of you who have been following my reviews, this book seems so out of place with the horror novels and urban fantasies I usually read, and in some of my reviews, I believe I have stated how I feel about romance. So why take the time to read a romance novel? Well, because I made a promise. And I keep my promises. It took me awhile to get around to reading it after I downloaded it to my Kindle because I had to prepare myself. Kind of like some people need to prepare themselves before going to see a horror film or picking up a horror novel. To me, romance is my horror. I cringe at the scenarios because they are usually so far-fetched, and the sex scenes are either badly written or so over the top with the heaving bosoms and the throbbing manhoods that I sit there rolling my eyes or, more often than not, tossing it aside. But a promise is a promise, so, taking a deep breath, I dove into Linda Boulanger's Arms of an Angel. . . and I couldn't put the damned thing down.
Claire Orion has it all: the money, the lifestyle most of us would envy, and, from the sounds of it, a string of men that would make a prostitute blush. But thanks to a misdiagnosis of cancer when she was younger and a verbally abusive father who constantly berated her for being less than a woman (because the surgery to remove the non-existent cancer left her unable to have children) that no man would ever want to marry, Claire feels her life is empty, which is why, when we meet her for the first time, she is planning her last hurrah before putting an end to her miserable life.
Dressed to the nines, Claire sets out for what is supposed to be her last supper, but thanks the ineptness of the restaurant's host, she has the good fortune (or misfortune) of meeting Garrett O'Bryan, a handsome man who is immediately taken with Claire. They end up spending the evening dining together and enjoying each other's company (Not in that way, so get your minds out of the gutter!). At the end of the evening, Claire does intend on inviting him up, but he declines. It seems Garrett has other plans. He makes Claire promise to meet him for Sunday Brunch. Reluctantly, she agrees, and being a woman of her word, there go her plans for the rest of the evening.
Each time she meets with Garrett, she tries to get him into bed, and each time he declines, which frustrates her to no end. It actually seems as if Garrett is interested in her, but she can't seem to wrap her head around that. After all, years of being told she's only half a woman no man would want have left her scarred.
So, does she finally get frustrated with trying unsuccessfully to get Garrett into bed that she goes ahead and kills herself? Is Garrett able to make her realize that there are men who can see past the fact that she can't have children and see her the person she once was, the person she buried all those years ago? You'll just have to read and find out.
With Arms of an Angel, Linda Boulanger has created a moving tale of a woman's journey through the darkness of her own soul. Right away you are moved by Claire, and you want to know what happened to this young woman, a woman who seems to have everything life could offer, that would drive her to want to take her own life. Once you find out what she has endured at such a young age, you want somebody to come along and show her that life is worth living and that she has so much to offer the world. Is Garrett that man, or do the scars run too deep for Claire to be saved?
For those who might be put off at the prospects of reading romance, don't be, not when it comes to Boulanger's tale. For one thing, it is short, so you won't have to suffer through it for long (which was my initial reaction when I first started it), BUT once you have started reading it, you forget all about the fact that it has been classified as a romance. At least that's the way it was for me. The romance came off as secondary. The focus of the novella was a woman's rediscovery of herself and overcoming the stigma her father had ingrained in her, that women are only good for reproduction and little else. It's about rediscovering life.
My only complaint with Arms of an Angel, and it's the same complaint I have with most well-written novellas, is that it was too short. It comes to a satisfying conclusion, but I found I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened after, which is the sign of a good writer.
I have to give kudos to Linda for opening my eyes that not all romance is insipid saccharine to be taken in small doses or eye-rolling bodice rippers. Part of me knew that already, but having to weed through them is the hard part. Should you pick up Arms of an Angel? Definitely. It's one of those novels that leave you with that "feel good" feeling at the end.