It doesn’t bode well for a book when I can start it on Monday and put it down without a second thought until Saturday. I’m not saying Jake’s Angel was a bad book, but it was lacked that certain spark that makes a body want to pick it up and read it.
The story opens with Texas Ranger Jake Coulter limping into a saloon in a small town in the New Mexico territory, hot on the trail of a mudering thief. Unfortunately, Jake’s luck has run out. Worn down and with a bullet in his leg, Jake is in desperate need of rest and healing. Enter Isabel Bradshaw, who is rumored by locals to be a witch.
Isabel is knowledgeable in the art of healing and herbs, or “weeds” as Jake calls them. Isabel is a young widow, responsible for her grandmother, her flighty half-sister, and two stepsons. She has a need to take care of things whether they are wounded animals or people. Called upon by one of the girls at the saloon, Isabel treats Jake’s wound and brings him into her home to recuperate.
The story starts out well enough. The dialogue is snappy and I especially enjoyed the first scene between Isabel and Jake, where she threatens to kill him if he doesn’t let her help him. Then suddenly the story just seems to go flat. Isabel doesn’t lose her spunk, but her tongue becomes sharp and her verbal jabs seem to come out of the blue. Jake, on other hand, never really seems to care; instead he just keeps up an internal monologue, mooning over Isabel without knowing why. Their shared mantra of “I will not fall in love again” gets old quickly, especially when we’re told their past relationships were not so hot to begin with.
None of the secondary characters were ever fully developed, which really detracted from the story. Most of them were no more than names with a line or two of dialogue. Even the villains of the piece, who only show up in the last 30 pages, never seemed very villainous or posed any real threat to our couple’s health and happiness. Isabel’s grandmother Esme, with her curses and snarky remarks about Jake, was a bigger threat. Of all the secondary characters, the only bright spots were Isabel’s stepsons, Matt and Nate. Both boys came across as realistic, both eager to please and misbehave at the same time.
As for the historical aspect, it was just color and background. There was nothing one wouldn’t find in the average John Wayne western or anything to really place it in a certain time accept they rode horses and the guns were six shooters. If historical flavor is really important to you, you might want to look elsewhere; this story could easily have been transferred to a contemporary setting.
Overall I found the story disjointed and uneven, which could be caused by the fact Nicole Foster is really two writers. Yet, the biggest problem with the story is it didn’t make me care. I never felt involved with Isabel or Jake. It might be an okay story for a rainy afternoon as long as you have nothing more pressing to do than dishes in the sink, but there are a lot of better books out there.