Blue Clouds

Denim and Lace

Garden of Dreams

Impossible Dreams

The Marquess

Merely Married

Volcano

Wayward Angel

 
Nobody’s Angel by Patricia Rice
(Ivy, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-449-00602-6
****
Readers who have perused my reviews know that I am an instinctual rather than an analytical reviewer. If a book keeps me turning the pages, if I like the characters, if the romance works, I tend not to be too critical. Well, except for historical bloopers, which doesn’t apply in a contemporary romance. Since I read Pat Rice’s new romantic suspense novel in a single sitting, I know the book worked for me.

The plot hinges on events that took place three and four years before the story starts. Four years ago, Faith Nichols testified against her husband Tony’s law partner who was accused of embezzling from the firm’s trust account. One year later, Faith discovered that her husband had a mistress and three children living in the outskirts of Charlotte.

Faith got mad but she also got even. She emptied the bank accounts, cashed in the couples’ stock accounts, sold their home, put the contents she wanted to keep in storage, and even sold Tony’s Jaguar. She also sent some incriminating papers to a local reporter. Then she waltzed out of Tony’s life. Tony, embarrassed by the scandal, headed off to Brazil where he was killed in a plane accident. Faith moved to Knoxville and started over.

Adrian Quinn Raphael, Tony’s erstwhile partner, has come to Knoxville to find Faith, even though leaving the state of North Carolina violates his parole. He is convinced that Faith is living off Tony’s ill-gotten gains and that she has proof that her husband, not Adrian, was responsible for the scam. He is surprised to discover that Faith - who now is known by her maiden name Faith Hope - is not leading a life of luxury but rather is singing part-time in a local club and running a store that sells local pottery.

Adrian is finally convinced that Faith doesn’t have the money, but he needs her help to try to find out if Tony had any records that might clear his name. So he “induces” her to head to Charlotte with him, to search for the safe deposit box where such records might be. It soon becomes clear that someone else is after the records and that this someone is ruthless and dangerous. If Faith is in danger from a stranger, she feels likewise endangered by the growing sexual tension that escalates between her and Adrian.

I liked both Faith and Adrian. They are complex and believable people. Faith had been an impressionable and lonely eighteen year old when she married Tony. If she had once been his trophy wife, she is now her own person. Yet she is loathe to love again; she doesn’t quite trust her instincts. And she sure never planned on falling for an ex-con, ex-lawyer who is almost as domineering as her former husband. But she does realize that Adrian is very different from her self-centered, cheating en.

Adrian has good reason to be domineering. The oldest of seven children, he has been responsible for his family since his step-father died when Adrian was eighteen. He had put aside his love of creating porcelain and worked his way through college and law school. He had been ruthless in his pursuit of success, but he had worked to support his mother and siblings. His conviction and loss of his license had left his family in difficulties. He wants vindication so that he can once again become the mainstay of the Raphael family.

The suspense plot has all sorts of complicated twists and turns; clearly, there was more to Tony’s activities than anyone realized. The romance is sizzling. Adrian wants Faith and Faith wants Adrian. But he can’t imagine how they can ever be anything more than lovers. He doesn’t want any more responsibilities than he already has. How can he think of marriage when he is disbarred from practicing his profession? Adrian has a pretty traditional view of the male role that threatens the future that Faith hopes for. Adrian is a confirmed alpha male, but he's a nice alpha.

Nobody’s Angel has a large and varied cast of characters, all well drawn. It has a complex suspense plot. It has a steamy romance. And it has a happy ending. The book kept me turning the pages and when I don’t want to put a book down, my instincts tell me to recommend it.

--Jean Mason


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