Kiss an Angel (#43 on our Top 100 Romances List)

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

An AAR Top 100 Romance

originally published on June 5, 2002

Kiss an Angel is one of my favorite comfort reads. I drag it out when I need to smile. It’s a wonderful story of personal growth, filled with humor, emotion, and some pretty sexy love scenes. This is Susan Elizabeth Phillips at her most enjoyable.

The death of her mother, a resultant spending spree, and a mountain of debt all conspire to place Daisy Devreaux at her father’s mercy. Rather than go to jail, she agrees to his scheme: she will marry the man of her father’s choice and stay married to him for six months. Then she can claim her trust fund and get on with her regularly scheduled life. This is all well and good until Daisy realizes, just moments after the vows are spoken, that her new husband cannot be controlled and he won’t bargain. She is completely at his mercy, and suddenly prison doesn’t seem like such a bad option.

Alex Markov agrees to this marriage of convenience for his own reasons, and he is determined to keep his promise to Daisy’s father. On his watch, Daisy will grow a backbone and some character. He hauls her from her posh surroundings in New York City to the rural South for a six-month traveling circus tour with the Quest Brothers Circus, a small, not amazingly successful outfit of performers. She will do what he tells her when he tells her to do it, or he will make her existence most unpleasant.

Neither of these two thinks much of the other when they meet. Daisy considers Alex an overbearing monster, and Alex thinks his new wife is a frivolous piece of fluff. Neither is looking for anything more than a six-month tour of duty for which they will receive eventual payment. But this inconvenient marriage of convenience quickly takes on a life of its own, and both Daisy and Alex must confront their strong attraction to each other.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t like this book because Alex is such a bastard to Daisy, especially in the beginning. That isn’t quite how I see it. Alex is very rough and intimidating, and he does give her all kinds of crap. He also blames her for a particularly unpleasant incident and refuses to believe she’s telling the truth. However, given the circumstances surrounding Daisy’s agreeing to the marriage, as well as her father’s assertions to Alex that she’s a flaky dingbat, this is understandable. Alex sees himself primarily as a boot camp instructor at Camp Character-Building, and, as such, he’s not obliged to treat Daisy with reverence or even anything more than cursory consideration. And he does lose his initial grumpiness eventually and becomes pretty romantic for an alpha guy. I found him extremely appealing.

Daisy goes through a different kind of transformation. In the beginning, she’s scared of Alex, but she still manages to stick up for herself. How she learns to fling his crap right back at him is what makes this book such a romp. As the story progresses, she grows more and more sure of herself and her abilities. Phillips takes her on a very nice character arc, growing her and growing her until the reader is questioning whether Alex is a match for her, instead of the other way around. Fans of Linda Howard’s Duncan’s Bride might find Daisy’s refusal to take a man’s garbage very familiar. She and Madelyn have a fair bit in common.

The secondary characters are interesting as well. In fact, of all of Phillips’ books, I think this one combines the multiple stories the most seamlessly and to the best effect. Alex’s former lover, Sheba Quest, is fairly nasty to Daisy and quite manipulative of the situation overall. It would have been easy for Phillips to have made her into the stereotypical slutty conniving witch we’ve all seen too much of. Instead, she goes out of her way to explain why Sheba feels the way she does and how she really isn’t a bad person, merely overly prideful. Heather, a teenage circus worker who causes trouble for Daisy, is also fleshed out. Even the circus animals have their own personalities, and they manage to be funny and endearing without being too cutesy.

The book stumbles into melodrama and sentiment in the last fifty pages, however, and this minor lapse is the only thing that keeps it from achieving DIK status. Up until that point, everything sparkles. The dialogue, the characterizations, the interesting setting, all these things combine to make a darn fine read. But the decisions Daisy makes in the last little bit of the story seem largely unnecessary and slightly out of character.

This is not a plot-driven romance, although Phillips does a fine job structuring the book. It is, instead, a wonderful character piece, and therein lies its charm. Both Daisy and Alex are likable and admirable, and their scenes together are sexy and fun. Their relationship has a sweet, caring quality to it that is very touching. If you like marriages of convenience, spunky heroines, alpha males, or visits to the circus, Kiss an Angel is just the book for you.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      Rachel Potter

Grade :     B+

Sensuality :      Hot

Book Type :     

Review Tags :      |

Recent Comments


  1. Dabney Grinnan
    Dabney Grinnan December 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    I 100% agree with this review although I’d come down harder on the last 50 pages. And I actually dislike the last scene big time. (That may have something to do with a case Dr. FeelGood did years ago–many operations were required to rebuild the head and face of a 3 yo kid whose moronic dad though having a tiger as a pet was a good plan. )

  2. Peggy P December 10, 2017 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    I too love this book and revisit often but it is the audio version for me.. The wonderful Anna Fields gives all that great dialogue a snap to it. If you’ve read this before try the audio version for a change – it is still a great story.

  3. Blackjack
    Blackjack December 10, 2017 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    This has always been my favorite of SEP’s books and for a long time one of my very favorite romances. It’s been a while since I read it, and it is a rather odd little book. In all honestly I have never been able to reread the first third because Alex, the hero, is too cruel to Daisy, and his humiliation of her is painful reading in places. Daisy is a great heroine for many reasons, but I loved her interactions with animals especially. Yes, she really is a kind of an angel. Not only is she a female Dr. Doolittle, but she is all that is patient and loving with everyone she meets, including a tortured hero, who falls hard for her despite every effort not to do so. The end of the book is a tearjerker, which ultimately worked for me. Not without its problems but I do still have a great fondness for this one.

  4. CarolineAAR December 11, 2017 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    I think this review needs a link to our Alex Markov: Dreamboat or Douchebag? column:

    • Dabney Grinnan
      Dabney Grinnan December 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      That was fun to read. We need to get back to these!

      Now I’m trying to think if SEP has any heroes who are as awful as Alex. I can’t think of any.

  5. Nikki H December 11, 2017 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    This was my favorite SEP novel for many years, but has been replaced by Match Me If You Can. I always snort/laugh at the “awful wedded husband”. There is a bit of a mystical touch to it–the communing with the animals–but I just loved that part of it. Yes, Alex was absolutely horrible, Daisy was a such an unusual, quirky, endearing character. I’m not sure how this book stands up to the test of time, but I reread it about once a year, and enjoy it every single time.

  6. Lisa Fernandes
    Lisa Fernandes December 18, 2017 at 7:16 am - Reply

    Sadly, my least-favorite SEP. the hero’s just way too abusive for my taste.

  7. bungluna December 19, 2017 at 8:31 am - Reply

    I remember this as being the first SEP book that I disliked intensely. After this one, I stopped auto-buying her and waited for reviews. I don’t read her anymore because of her penchant for humiliating her heroines.

    • Blackjack
      Blackjack December 19, 2017 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      I can understand that. I don’t think in today’s culture that SEP holds up very well for exactly the reason you stated.

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