My Fallen Angel
by Pamela Britton, historical/guardian angel (2000)
Harper, $5.99, ISBN 0-06-101431-1


Garrick Asquith-Wolf is a cocksure, arrogant pirate. One day, while gloating over his fallen opponent ("I am invincible!"), he is struck by lightning - literally! The end. So much for invincibility. Since God has a sense of humor, He lets Garrick have a stab at playing the harp in Heaven. That is, if Garrick can help hellion and hoyden Lucy Hartford prove to the world that a little boy Tom is actually the overlooked Earl of Selbourne, a fact that the current Earl isn't too pleased about.

Oh, and Garrick has to take a vow of celibacy while he's at it. Too bad, really, for the Fourth Of July fireworks really exploded in his pants the moment he sees our Lucy.

I really want to love this story. For one, the writing simply sparkles with the author's irreverent sense of humor. My most vivid impression upon finishing My Fallen Angel is the fact that this book has joie de vivre stamped all over it. Clearly the author is having a great time telling the story, and it is hard not to succumb to such good-natured storytelling.

But this is her first novel, and it shows - glaringly. For one, Lucy is the typical klutz who is not only clumsy, but worse - she seems to have left her common sense at home. Not that she doesn't do anything that makes me grit my teeth in irritation (unlike one other book of similar vein which has the heroine berating the hero for saving her from rape - now that's irritating!), but she is always in need of rescuing. Case in point? In the opening chapter where I meet Lucy, she trips, burns herself with her lantern, almost burns down the house she is breaking into, and almost falls to her death from a windowsill.

And the unrelenting Misadventures of Lucy Hartford continues unremittingly and relentlessly through the entire story. Needless to say, the relationship suffers from so much vigorous activities.

Bad enough it is just page 40 when Lucy realizes she's in love with him (so what's left of the story but more adventures?). Soon steam runs out faster than one can say Deflated choo choo. When the author plugs in more kooky, klutzy misadventures that result in our heroine shrieking Save me! to make up for the lack of romantic conflict, things can really irritating somewhat.

But then again, Garrick and Lucy are perfect for each other. Both are unapologetically impetuous, reckless, and live for the high and wild side of life. They don't drown me with unnecessary I'm misunderstood psychological baggage. And it is to the author's credit that she makes Garrick less of a babysitter than a fellow partner-in-crime for our intrepid heroine's misadventures.

Hence, there is grand comedy in My Fallen Angel. Unfortunately, this isn't enough to hide the fact that the relationship between Lucy and Garrick is severely underdeveloped. I'm sure with time and experience, the promise Ms Britton shows in her debut would shine, but until then, I must - reluctantly, mind you, for the cheekiness and good humor of this story is irresistible - give My Fallen Angel a rating of 61.


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