Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: An Angel for Emily (sixth book in 'The Descent of the Angels Reading Challenge')

I have finished reading my sixth angel book for
"The Descent of the Angels Reading Challenge",
which is hosted by Momo at Books Over Boys.

So, without further ado, I hereby present
my review for the month of June.

An Angel for Emily
Author: Jude Deveraux
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published by Doubleday, January 1, 1998
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Angel fiction is suddenly very much in demand, and there's plenty of it, in adult as well as young adult fiction.  This book was written by the well-known romance novelist Jude Deveraux, who has produced many books in the genre.  Since I'm not that familiar with her work, I don't know if she's written other paranormal romances.  I think she's penned quite a few historicals, however.

The story revolves around a mission, of course.  Angels are usually on a mission, since the word "angel" means "messenger" in the Greek language. 

Michael (not the famous Biblical archangel) is permitted to take bodily form for the sole purpose of protecting Emily Jane Todd, a small-town librarian who lives in Greenbriar, North Carolina.  He is her guardian angel, after all, and has been for several centuries, through all of her incarnations.  (I wonder if this is where the authors of Fallen and Angelfire got their inspiration...)  Now, however, it is vitally important that he be physically present in order to find and destroy the evil surrounding her -- someone wants her dead...

Michael meets his 'client' in a very unusual manner -- she hits him with her car while speeding down a country road at night, angry at having been stood up again by her boyfriend.  Distraught, she gets out of her car and runs over to see if he's all right.  She then finds herself caught in the unlikely situation of having to 'help' him.  This is a ruse, however.  Michael has been counting on her good nature.  Emily has a reputation for doing good deeds, such as delivering free books to poor children in the Appalachian Mountains, something she's been doing for several years.

Emily is engaged to Donald Stewart, known as "Mr. News" because of his hard-hitting news stories and excellent reporting skills.  Later on in the novel, we find out that his 'expertise' is mostly due to Emily's excellent researching skills.  Furthermore, Michael also discovers that Donald is somehow the source of the evil surrounding Emily.

So far, this sounds like a wonderful, get-lost-in-a-great-romance type of book, except that it isn't.  The plot falls flat due to numerous inconsistencies and events that are too predictable, while the characters couldn't be more one-dimensional.  Even Michael, who is somewhat adorable at times, does tend to get on one's nerves with some of his silly remarks.  At least he got on my nerves as I was reading!  For instance, he doesn't seem to know a lot of common words in standard English, and constantly uses the wrong word in typical American idioms.  It seems funny at first, but gets tiresome after a while.  This is supposedly caused by the fact that he's an angel, and, therefore, unfamiliar with earthly customs.  How is it, then, that he's been around Emily throughout her long existence, and doesn't fully know or understand the everyday speech of those around her, including her own?  That simply doesn't make sense!

Michael also does certain things that one wouldn't think an angel would do -- clearly unethical things.  One of them is that he actually has an intimate relationship with Emily while she's still engaged to Donald.  How uplifting!  An angel of God entices an engaged woman to betray her betrothed!  How very convenient it is then, when Emily finds out, soon thereafter, that Donald has never been faithful to her to begin with.  The perfect rationalization!   

Emily herself is the stereotypical 'boring' small-town librarian, who is a very naive, very kindhearted person.  She has been taken advantage of by Donald for years.  His sole reason for asking her to marry him is that she would be the perfect, compliant wife, giving him no trouble at all.  Predictably -- since he, too, is one-dimensional -- he no longer wants Emily when he discovers her new-found sense of adventure, which she owes entirely to Michael.  Another convenient little detail! 

I should have known, from the circumstances of Michael's arrival on Earth, that this novel would not be the enjoyable, suspend-your-disbelief experience I was expecting... Michael is given the body of a notorious criminal who has been shot, and left to die.  The angel enters the criminal's body just after the man's spirit has left.  Thus, Michael is able to escape, bullet wounds quickly healed.  Yet, several hours after meeting Emily, he asks her to get a pair of pliers and remove a bullet from his head!  He then proceeds to Emily's home town, where he is eagerly accepted by the womenfolk, in spite of the fact that his face -- that of the deceased criminal -- has been all over the news, and the FBI is after him!

This novel is full of totally unconvincing details and events, and all of them fall into place much too easily, too conveniently.  The writing style is not bad, but the plotting certainly leaves a lot to be desired. 

This book seems at first glance to be an enchanting story, and it does, of course, have a happy ending, as all romance novels must.  What gets the main characters to this ending, however, is only partially enjoyable, for the reasons I have stated above.  The premise has potential, so it really could have been done better.

I have read several Amazon reviews of this novel, and most of them concur that this is not one of Deveraux's better works, adding that she has written far more satisfying books.  I agree, even though this is my first Deveraux novel.  She must have others that are much better!

It's really too bad this particular edition has such a beautiful cover...which is the reason I picked it!  (Besides, I prefer hardcovers, anyway.)



  1. +JMJ+

    I've never been impressed by Jude Deveraux. =( Her Historicals are all right, but when she gets all metaphysical (usually with time travel and/or reincarnation), I fight her every step of the way. It's just not believable.

    I remember trying to read an An Angel for Emily back in high school. It was a DNF for me because I couldn't believe an Angel would act like that at all. And now your review is making me happy I didn't bother to read until the end because that twist with the criminal's face would have made me burn the book!!!!

  2. Hi, Enbrethiliel!

    I'm so glad you feel happy you didn't read the whole book! I did, because I just wanted to see what the whole deal was with someone wanting to kill Emily. I really should have stopped! But then, I also had a review to write, as part of this challenge, and I don't think one should write a review of a book one nasn't read the whole way through...

    Anyway, yes, I couldn't believe how bad this was! I originally gave it only one star, then changed my mind because I thought the whole idea had potential. It simply could have been done better!

    I will visit your blog just as soon as I can!

    Thanks for the commentf!! : )


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