I predict Nobody’s Angel could join a list of books (if there is such a list) that includes titles that readers either loved or hated, with me tending toward the latter. Books like Sarah’s Child or authors like Dara Joy. However you feel about them, you feel it strongly. Patricia Rice’s latest will most likely fall into that category.
The strongest element is Adrian Quinn, a man wrongly convicted and sentenced to prison. After four years he has been paroled and is determined to find the wife of his business associate, Faith Hope, and make her admit that he was innocent (although he wasn’t totally). He hopes to prove his innocence in an embezzling scheme so that he can get reinstated to the Bar. A tip leads him to Knoxville, Tennessee where Faith has set up shop as a dealer in ceramics and pottery. As a sideline she sings for a country-western group in local bars, which is where Adrian first discovers her. Despite proclamations of innocence in her husband’s affairs, and despite all the evidence that makes it clear that she isn’t sitting on millions of dollars, Adrian remains determined to force her to help him clear his name.
Faith distrusts him from the start; how could she not? She was convinced that he was guilty of embezzling the funds and doesn’t want anything to do with him. From her point of view her surprising attraction to him only makes matters worse. She was badly burned by her lawyer husband (Tony) who had a mistress (who also had three children by him) throughout their marriage. Her pain was deepened by her inability to conceive. All she wanted was a husband, a settled home, and kids. She didn’t get any of those things and despite her growing attraction to Adrian, she knows he will never provide any of these things either.
From start to finish, Adrian’s personality drives this book. Yes, Faith is along for the ride, and though she gains some spirit by the end of the book, she didn’t make much of an impact on me. Adrian did. Here’s how my thinking went as I read Nobody’s Angel: “He’s a jerk, with reasons that’s true, but still a jerk, I hated him, oh he’s getting better maybe he’ll become more sympathetic, he’s back to being a jerk, maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s my mood…” You get the picture. He kidnaps Faith by tricking her into letting him drive her car and ends up driving back to Charlotte despite her protests. By this time two things have happened. She likes him enough not to want him re-arrested and sent back to jail and he’s pretty much accepted that she didn’t have anything to do with her husband’s actions. Does he listen to her when she worries about who will keep her store running? She has a life, and he ignores it because of his needs – not very heroic, is it? Because of his pigheadedness the bad guys destroy Faith’s car, break into her shop and apartment, threaten her friends and basically make it impossible to return home until Adrian’s problems are cleared up.
Even though he has reasons for acting as he does, he still comes across as a bully, and not in an interesting alpha way. At one point he’s brainstorming with Faith about what her husband was doing with the money and tells her:
“He didn’t gamble, and he didn’t drink. I would have left if he had. The commission alone would have been enough to support Sandra (the mistress) if he didn’t spend it on you.”
How’s that for logic? Mind you this is after he and Faith have made love. He would have left Tony’s employ if the man gambled or drank, but it was okay that the man had a woman on the side. There’s nothing unrealistic in the statement, some men might feel the same, but he’s saying it to Faith! And she didn’t win any points by not calling him on it.
Which brings me to my final comment about elements that evoked strong feelings. The first time they make love Adrian tells Faith that he’s a pirate captain and she must do everything he says. He tells her he knows that she wants the responsibility taken from her shoulders, and this will do it. Faith agrees with this. She feels hypocritical for having to play this game, but she knows that she needs this. Again, it’s not that this is unrealistic, it just made me very uncomfortable and didn’t appeal.
Even though my reactions weren’t favorable, they were strong. The author did what she was supposed to in that she wrote a book that sticks with the reader. It was well written, it had two well-developed central characters, and the mystery of the money was mostly tied up. It just didn’t work for me. Other readers may find more appeal than I did