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When Emily's guardian angel comes to earth in human form to save her from something evil she can't imagine what that evil could be. A small town librarian who is pretty close to angelic herself doesn't attract many enemies. In fact with her perfect fiance and a job she loves Emily thinks her life is pretty perfect. Michael, her guardian angel changes everything. Soon Emily realises that her life is not as it seems. Worse than this she's falling in love with an angel who she can never be with.
I think it's fair to say that this novel was pretty awful. The plot, the characters, the writing...it was all bad.
Let's start with the plot. This is a romance novel and therefore a plot is optional. In romance novels where there is a plot it doesn't, in my opinion, need to be a terribly plausible or well written plot. Really, it is there to push the romantic side of the story along so I don't tend to let the plot side of a romance novel dictate how highly I rate it. If a plot is good then that's a bonus, it's the other things that really count (for this genre). So the fact that the plot was so awful in this book doesn't really make much difference to how I've rated it. Yes, the plot was unrealistic (an angel coming to earth and falling in love with a mortal who he has looked after through many lives) but I quite like to suspend reality when I read these kinds of books. It did raise all kinds of theological questions for me and did contradict my own religious beliefs surrounding angels but then this isn't a theology book, it's a work of fiction and not in any way relevant to my faith. However, I do understand that for some people this could be a real issue. If you belong to a religion that has a certain opinion on angels and you would be offended by that view of angels being challenged then you may want to stay away from this novel.
For the most part the plot was very predictable, although I was surprised by one twist in the plot (I'm not going to even give you a clue about what it relates to, I don't want to spoil the only surprise in the entire book). Predictability isn't so bad though, particularly in a genre where you're guaranteed a happily ever after.
For me the characters are the most important thing in a romance novel and unfortunately the characters weren't particularly well written. All of the characters were very two dimensional. This wasn't so much of a problem for the bad characters because they were such a minor part of the book but both Emily and Michael were really poorly developed. Emily was little more than a stereotype of a wholesome but naive woman and I felt that she had very little depth. Worse than this though she was extremely dull. I can't think of how she could possibly have been more boring. Michael was a slight improvement, at least he was an angel but he wasn't exactly romantic hero material. She gave him the right looks and body but failed to give him the personality to match. I just can't imagine him lustfully sweeping any woman off of her feet.
One good thing about the romantic side of this novel is that you can totally see Michael and Emily living happily ever after together. I can imagine them living a boring life, in a small boring town with two boring kids and a hamster. There's nothing wrong with that of course, I just don't particularly want to read about it. The romance lacked excitement and I didn't really feel any passion between the two of them.
However, I have to admit that at points I did really enjoy this novel. There were some parts that made me smile, particularly when Michael keeps mixing up human sayings. I did lose all interest in this book halfway through and found it a struggle to finish it (even though it is really easy reading) but for at least half of the book I was entertained.
**Anything I earn from this review is being donated to http://www.marysmeals.org/**
Jude Deveraux is an American writer who rocketed to stardom with the publication of her paranormal romance, A Knight in Shining Armour (a book I highly recommend). An Angel for Emily is another paranormal romance from this author, though not quite in the same league.
Synopsis (Source: Amazon.com): Emily Jane Todd has justbeen stood up by her fiancé when she ran into her guardian angel with her car, at least "Michael" insists that's what he is. Emily just hopes he hasn't been brain damaged in the accident. Strangely, Michael knows the most astounding things about her, and declares that he's been sent to save her. But save her from what? Emily thought her life was on course for happiness with her fiancé, so what help could she possibly need from this sexy stranger?
Jude Deveraux has written some very good romances since A Knight in Shining Armour but I'm afraid, for me, this just wasn't one of them.
The character of Emily is just too good to be true. She's sweet and gentle and a bit downtrodden and is, quite frankly, all the things I'm not, so identifying with the heroine was a bit too much of a stretch. Likewise, Michael, is an angel, and a guardian angel at that. Again, not being particularly religious - oh, alright, not being at all religious - I couldn't really buy into an angel in any shape or form, even though Christian theology is not discussed at all in the book.
The story began with some promise with Michael taking over the body of an escaped criminal and I liked the way the author emphasised Michael's 'non-human' status by his struggle to understand some English phrases or to get his human body to do what he wants it to do These incidences even raised the odd smile but, and it's a big but, the story doesn't have much believability, even discounting the angelic element and Jude Deveraux does seem to wander away from the main theme quite a bit. At once stage (bit of a spoiler), Michael tells Emily about her previous lives over which he has 'guarded' her. Now all her previous lives have ended up being pretty tragic, which left me wondering why he's only just shown up now to help her!
A Knight in Shining Armour was such a stonking good read, and even today is often listed as being in the top 10 paranormal romances ever written, which made An Angel for Emily all the more of a disappointing read.
This is a reprint, the original being published back in 1998. Storytelling has moved on since then and we now have a whole raft of writers giving us excellent paranormal romance and urban fantasy and, for me, this book just doesn't stack up very well against present day competition.
My measure of a good book is whether, after I've read the last page and closed the book, the story and characters remain with me for days or even weeks afterwards. When I closed this book, I just just kept thinking of how much better it could have been.
Product details (from Amazon)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books; US Ed edition (2 Feb 2009)