Almost an Angel
Although I can see that the author was trying for something fun and whimsical with this novel, ultimately all I felt reading it was frustration. Between the heroine’s too-stupid-to-live actions, an eight-year-old acting more like a fifteen-year-old, and numerous instances of coitus interruptus, it was too much for me and I heaved a sigh of relief when it was over.
Carolly Hansen hurts all over. This learning to be an angel thing is not all it’s cracked up to be. Carolly has gotten used to waking up in strange bodies; after all, this is her 10th incarnation. She has not had an easy time of it in her previous hosts and died horrible deaths each time. She’s not sure why she keeps jumping from body to body, but assumes she must be sent to help people find true love, and sooner or later, she’ll be done with all this dying and get her angel wings. In this incarnation, she realizes she’s been severely beaten and cannot move to seek help.
The year, as it turns out, is 1815. Fortunately, James Northram, Earl of Trayhern finds her and takes her back to his home to heal. Once there, it’s obvious to James that there is something seriously wrong with Carolly. She has no idea of proper etiquette or propriety, insists that she be called by her first name, and cannot recall her family name. When she spouts off an outlandish story about pre-angels, past lives, and her mission to help him find true love, James believes she has escaped from Bedlam. But rather than send her back to a mental institution, he hopes he can help her since he once failed a close friend who had mental problems.
Carolly has her work cut out for her with James and his family. His eight-year-old niece Margaret lives with him, but James understands nothing about children. His villagers are almost in revolt over changes he has instituted. He also refuses to consider marrying, and will let his cousin inherit his title and property.
Carolly is certainly an interesting heroine in unique circumstances, but she’s not a quick study. She admits to she should know better every time she makes a stupid mistake, and about this we agree; she’s had nine previous incarnations to figure out what not to do. But she continues to act like she lives in the year 2000, the date of her “real” death, and so it’s no wonder she’s had no luck in her previous lives.
James is a long-suffering hero who puts up with amazing behavior from Carolly for no good reason other than that the plot demands it. He plays a counselor role to Carolly in his efforts to help her, but doesn’t believe a word she says. His ward Margaret (“Mags”) is like no other eight-year-old I’ve ever met. What child of eight could or would lead servants through rubble after a mine caved in? None of her thoughts or actions were appropriate for her age, they were definitely those of a much older girl.
Carolly treads the TSTL line much too precariously. She makes irrational decisions and drags Mags along with her, forcing James to rescue them time after time. Each time he rescues Carolly, an intense love scene begins to develop, but something interrupts them every time. It soon became ridiculous and I began to wonder who or what would jump in next time they started to kiss and have lustful thoughts.
Add in a villain drawn of cardboard, and the cast of annoying characters was complete. The conclusion of the story was completely unsatisfactory for me and left more questions than answers, especially regarding Carolly’s personality and future in 1815.
Almost an Angel had some light-hearted moments and I enjoyed Mags’ character once I decided to ignore her stated age. Carolly was earnestly trying to make herself into a better person and help others in the best way she knew. James earned points for his ability to listen and learn from his own past mistakes. The premise was unique enough that the author earned props for that as well. But the light-hearted moments, good intentions, and creativity could not mitigate the book’s other problems.