When The Halo Falls
by Kathleen Kane, historical/paranormal (2002)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-97842-1


When The Halo Falls is about an amnesiac guardian angel falling in love with her charge. Don't expect overtly Christian overtures in this book, though - the people here seems to practice a modern religion based on too many Deepak Chopra books about "faith" and "love." I find that puzzling, because isn't angel a distinctly Christian entity?

And like the angels in too many romance novels, Patience Goodfellow seems to have undergone a pituitary gland lobotomy before stepping through the Pearly Gates. Sweet, clueless, and naive, she trips her way happily down the street for so long, I can't help but to sigh. If she's a guardian angel, no wonder the world is so messed up today.

Patience is in love with her charge, Brady Shaw. Since they meet, she feels a bond in their souls (Patience became an angel after she died and gone to heaven). The trouble with this premise is, Brady is 12 when they first met. I'd think Ms Kane will handle this premise with triple asbestos gloves, considering the current mess the Church is embroiled in. Anyone with common sense will know better than to put a 12-year boy and love in the same sentence, but not Ms Kane, oh no.

Still, this premise will have Patience dangle after Brady long after Brady's ass behavior has long outlived its welcome.

One day, while imagining herself marrying Brady or some nonsense, Patience removes her halo, falls down, and wakes up with amnesia! Oh no - now she believes that she is Brady's fiancée. She walks up to Brady and throws him off-guard with her knowing everything about him. Is this a mad woman? But she seems to know a lot about him, even private emotional stuff he keeps locked away. And the rest of the town don't know what to make of this psycho-perky woman either.

Patience's love for Brady is one for the grannies. Sweet, pretty much all about marriage, bridal veils, and kisses but rarely anything carnal, the love Patience harbors for Brady is one for Sunday mass. Actually, come to think of it, a mass may just well spark more sexual tension than Brady and Patience's wedding night - that's how electrifying this romance is.

But there are some scenes here that ooze genuine sincerity, such as Patience's bonding with a sad, sad prostitute working upstairs in Brady's saloon (yes, he's a saloon owner with a notorious reputation). But for too often the author is too eager on portraying Patience as cute that she falters. For example, why would an angel fall for a womanizer/gambler/saloon owner with little redeeming features? Isn't Patience supposed to be a paragon or something? Shouldn't she fall for, well, a preacher? That makes more sense, doesn't it? You don't have sweet, cuddly cakes feelings for a bad boy, you want to have wild and dirty sex with a bad boy, right?

Most annoying is Brady's insistence on not wanting a woman in his life, long, long, long after it is obvious that he wants her to stick around. He plays that stupid "She's too good for me" foghorn tune so long that his treatment of ditsy, perky Patience is outright emotional abuse at times. It's not pleasant, because for all her cluelessness, Patience is a loyal and good-natured woman/angel. Actually, if you ask me, no woman deserves to be stringed along with hopes only to be smacked down with a few well-aimed barbs when the man isn't in the mood to play. No doubt Ms Kane wants to create a conflict, but this conflict isn't just trite and boring, it gets ugly at places.

Patience has better chemistry with a young orphan. She should have waited for him to grow up and then get amnesia so that she can snog him. Or something. I tell you, angels in this author's world has a really strange way of guiding the lost stray sheep back to the pen.

I really like Patience, because she's, at the end of the day, a nice bubblegum lady. Hence, I feel bad for her that she is stuck in this story when she has to smile and remain cheerful until her lips ache just to win the affections of an unappreciative man. What's the point, really? Let that bastard roast and move on to greener pastures, lady. Sometimes a man just isn't worth all that heartache.

Rating: 57


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