Miss Emmaline and the Archangel
Rachel Lee has made Conard County, Wyoming her own little corner of the world. The cast of characters who live there – Nate Tate the sheriff, Maude at the diner, Reverend Fromberg at the Community Church, have become old and dear friends and I eagerly await each book so I can see them again.
I have read all of the books in the series and I find myself liking the older ones the best. Many reader’s favorite book in the Conard County miniseries is the third, Miss Emmaline and the Archangel, and I would have to agree with them. This is a very emotionally intense book featuring a wounded and tortured hero and heroine who share a love story of such passion and tenderness that it never fails to move me.
Gage Dalton works as a part-time deputy in Conard County. He is a former DEA agent whose wife and children were killed in a car bombing meant for him. The bombing left him with scars on his face and back, a limp and almost constant pain from damaged nerves in his back. Gage also has a raspy, rusty voice. When he realized his family was dead, he screamed so loud and long he permanantly damaged his vocal chords. Gage is a loner. He lives alone, he dresses all in black and spends his free time trying to walk off the pain that grips his back. Gage has built a wall of ice around his heart and soul and will not get close to anyone. He is known in the town as Hell’s own archangel.
Emmaline Conard is the town librarian – a lovely young woman with fiery red-gold hair. She does not date and is as much a loner as Gage. When Emma was in school she was abducted, tortured and left for dead. The attack left her in a coma for weeks and an infection that she developed left her unable to have children. Emma has repressed much of her memories of the attack, but enough memory remains to make her wary and frightened. She will not get in a car with a man, for instance.
Gage meets Emma when he walks her home after her car goes dead after work one night. She cooks him dinner and gives him a brandy for his pain and he discovers how good her old-fashioned rocker feels to his sore back. They come into contact again when strange things begin to happen to Emma. She gets threatening notes. Someone peers in her window. A decapitated rabbit is left on her doorstep. Then someone sends her a photograph of a dagger and this triggers a flashback to her abduction and torture. It seems that the person who hurt her years ago is back and stalking her.
Emma has a room for rent in her big old house and Gage moves in. He has wanted to move from his cramped and smelly apartment over a bar and Emma needs his protection. An attraction begins to build between Gage and Emma and the story heats up.
This is where Miss Emmaline and the Archangel shines. I have seldom read a book where sexual tension and passion are so intense. Gage and Emma are both so wounded, so needy and so afraid to trust another person that it is almost painful. When they do make love, the combination of physical and emotional closeness that they share is overpowering. I have seldom been so moved by love scenes. If only I could convey how intense the love scenes are in this book, I would be writing romance novels myself, but all I can say is read them – you will be impressed.
Gage and Emma left such an impression on me that they all but stole the show from the characters in Rachel Lee’s latest Conard County book Involuntary Daddy, where they played a supporting role. Lee can sometimes pile on the angst with a too-heavy hand, but she can also write some of the most powerful scenes in the romance field. In Miss Emmaline and the Archangel, she got everything right.