Angel in My Bed
I discovered Melody Thomas last fall when thoroughly enjoyed A Match Made in Scandal and eagerly volunteered to review her latest. Although Angel in My Bed contains the spy-suspense aspect I try to avoid, its romance did not disappoint in the least. This is how I like my romance served: an alpha hero who is not too overbearing, a courageous heroine who keeps her chin up, a former relationship between the leads, a heartrending romance, and a need for revenge.
David Donally served his country for years as an intelligence officer, but after a disastrous assignment in Calcutta ten years ago, he retired to Ireland and donned the robes of a priest, hoping to atone for his ruthless service to the Crown. Now as word reaches him that his dead wife is alive, David forces himself out of his self-imposed retirement intent on not only finding his wife, but bringing her to justice as well – even though it could mean life imprisonment or hanging for her. However, justice isn’t his only motivation since his heart yearns for answers to questions that have been buried for the past decade.
Meg Faraday assumed the identity of one Victoria Munro ten years ago and has since lived the quiet life of a widow in the countryside of England with her supposed father-in-law, her stepdaughter, and her cherished nine-year-old son. Meg shares a medical practice with her father-in-law and treasures her normal life and wants only to bury her past, love and be loved, and attempt to forget all those years that she spent lying, cheating, and stealing under her father’s supervision. When she sees a single ruby earring one evening, Meg realizes with dread that her dream life has finally come to an end – someone has found her.
When David discovers that Meg is living a lie as a country lady, albeit a poor one, it only serves to convince him further that she betrayed him ten years ago. Meg can only think that she must keep up her appearance as a widow to provide her own son with a heritage and good care once she is gone. She determines to never let David know he has a son since it would make his victory over her complete – taking from her once again everything she holds dear. Although David takes Meg as a prisoner of the Crown, he refuses to hand her over to officials, choosing to keep her close and use her as bait to lure her father from hiding.
Although the entire book is set in the 1870s, it is largely based on prior events (more so than most) and the repercussions of perceived betrayals by both the hero and heroine. David remembers Meg as a con artist, thief, and murderer, but her status as a widow now adds adulterer to her list of sins. He believes her guilty of helping her father steal a vast treasure and, since she shot him before escaping, he can only believe she meant to kill him. On the other hand, Meg hates David as she remembers the way she once loved him unconditionally all those years ago, while his love for her was a complete sham. He may still be the most attractive man she has ever known, but he callously used her before and will not hesitate to do so again. But despite the blame David and Meg heap on one another, both know her father used them brutally in Calcutta and that he remains a threat to their lives.
The suspense element is too complicated to summarize effectively, but David’s protective care of Meg, although reluctant at first, is one of the more moving aspects of the story. Their new relationship develops realistically as they slowly overcome their mutual distrust and, thankfully, this is accomplished without many disagreements and misunderstandings – these two attempt to communicate honestly despite the immense barriers of their past that separate them. The only Big Misunderstanding in this book is an incident long ago and a credible one at that. The whole issue of Meg’s motherhood and preparing for her son’s care once she was gone is heartrending at times. Meg is guilty of much that she stands accused of and there are no shortcuts to their HEA.
Melody Thomas certainly knows how to provide the reader with some exceptionally attractive images of David, whether it is the sweep of his cape, the fall of his coat, or the cheroot between his fingers. Although he has a harsh side, David is the angel in the title of the book and his character is more complex than your average hero. It was more difficult to see deeply into Meg’s personality but it makes her no less appealing.
Although this is fourth in a series Thomas began writing in 2004, Angel in My Bed performs well as a stand alone read. Lord Ravenspur from Must Have Been the Moonlight plays as a significant role during the latter portion of the book and I believe I saw a future hero and heroine lurking within as well.
Angel in My Bed also contains the Secret Baby scenario and for once I agreed with this overused plot line – it made sense and added depth to the overall story. The interaction between David and Meg, their need to work through what seemed to be impossible odds, and the rebirth of their love for one another worked together for an especially fine story. It was only the presence of British intelligence officers in action that kept this from reaching a DIK level. But, please bring on more heroes like David anytime.