Almost An Angel
by Katherine Greyle, historical/paranormal (2003)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52548-8

Carolly Hanson is trapped in an unusual fix. She keeps hopping between different time periods to help people find true love. Sometimes she dies in a time period only to be reincarnated in another time period. She can hop from present to future and vice-versa. In fact, she was stoned to death in a medieval time period only to wake up in the care of James Oscar Henry Northam, the Earl of Traynern, in 1815. She assumes that she must help James find true love, even if it means matching James with a governess. James thinks she is crazy. James has a troubled niece whom he neglects. You can join the dots, I'm sure, to get the whole story.

For the most part, Almost An Angel is a very familiar supernanny Mary Poppins story with very little that is new or interesting. Of course Carolly is the perfect mother, she is the perfect shrink for James, she can do anything and everything when it comes to home, child-rearing, and more. Think of Carolly as a walking and talking Martha Stewart show. James is the Von Trapp guy, the kid is the same old silent and troubled kid - really, this book is in dire need of a boost of originality.

Still, it could be a pleasant book I can read if the heroine isn't also a perky la-la-la type. Carolly's speech pattern is a bizarre mix of Valley Girl Speak and Chick-Lit Attitude Lingo. Not only does her speech pattern clash discordantly with the time setting, I also end up wondering why she can't tamper down her anachronistic behavior and try to blend in. No wonder she got stoned to death previously, if you ask me. Carolly is walking a tightrope act between being girlishly perky and amazingly maternal.

The later parts of the book are pretty melodramatic in a good way though. Once James realizes that Carolly is indeed an angelic being and he can lose her any minute, he becomes a man so desperately in love that I can't help but to be touched. The relationship takes on an unabashedly overwrought "Why can't we be together, damn you Heaven!" overtones that provide the story with an urgency that it lacks previously. I know, I'm supposed to be cynical, but that part of me that goes boo-hoo-hoo when Rose tells Jack she'll never let go even if the ship sinks, when Sam takes fifteen seconds to gaze into Frodo's eyes before they say goodbye for the final time and the orchestra goes into full-swing crescendo, when the dying Mimi whispers "I should tell you..." to Roger (even if I really loathe the entire script of Rent) - well, that part of me goes boo-hoo-hoo here too.

So I guess this book is alright. It can't compare to, say, Heather Cullman's Stronger Than Magic, another book with a somewhat similar matchmaking guardian angel theme, but the final chapters have me hearing Violins of Overwrought Moments Of Despair And Gloom playing in my head and I go, "No - Frodo, don't go, Sam loves you! He'll come around and divorce that woman and be your one and only Fat Hobbit. I hate to see sad goodbyes so don't leave, Gandalf doesn't love you like Sam - DON'T LEAVE, NOOOOOOO!" - er, wait, wrong story. Anyway, what I am saying is that the book does provide some decent tugs at the heartstrings despite its familiar premise and annoying heroine. Readers that don't mind an overly perky Mary Poppins heroine will probably enjoy this one better than me.

Rating: 75

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