An Angel for Emily
by Jude Deveraux
(Pocket, $7.50, PG) ISBN 0-671-00359-3
***
Veteran author Jude Deveraux jumps on the angel bandwagon and the result is a cute confection that is about as heavy as an angel's wings.

Small town librarian Emily Jane Todd meets Michael, her guardian angel, by literally running into him - with her car. Guilt-stricken by her carelessness, she takes care of him despite the fact that she doesn't believe a word he says. Michael claims that Emily is one of his "charges." He has been watching over her from heaven for several lifetimes, but now he has been sent to earth in mortal form to save her from impending danger. Emily figures she must have hit him harder than she thought and that his brains are temporarily scrambled.

Then Donald, her big city newscaster fiancÚ, reports that a notorious hit man has amazingly eluded capture and is on the loose. His name is Michael Chamberlain and his physical description is exactly the same as Emily's alleged angel. So is she harboring an angel, a lunatic, or a psychopathic killer?

Emily's innate goodness prohibits her from considering the kind and gentle Michael a killer. After all, he seems to think she has a rare and beautiful soul and he certainly appreciates her more than the ungrateful Donald. But she can't believe he is an angel, either, even when he enchants everyone he meets and communicates with the ghosts who seem to inhabit every building in Emily's home town. As Emily and Michael try to figure out the source of the unknown danger, they come closer and closer to breaking a taboo against mortals and angels falling in love.

An Angel for Emily offers a few chuckles as Michael struggles with idiomatic English, copes with his awkward mortal body and befriends both friendly and aggressive ghosts. His offhand recounting of Emily's woes throughout all of her past lives is entertaining as well.

The plot, however, is somewhat confusing and meandering. At times I wasn't sure if Emily believed in Michael or not, and I was never really sure of the limits of his angelic powers. The eventual villains seem to come out of nowhere.

Deveraux writes cute scenes and quirky characters, but they never engaged my emotions or heart. They are not multidimensional enough to truly care about, so that the climactic scene of sacrificing all for love doesn't resonate with the reader. I finished the book with the feeling of, "okay, that was nice...next?"

Jude Deveraux has certainly made her name as one of modern romance's pioneers. As a teenager I read, and loved, the "Velvet" saga. But I have not read any of her books in recent years that stood out as keepers in my mind, and this one is no exception. An Angel for Emily breaks no new ground in the current angel-mania, but it is fun.

--Susan Scribner


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