by Judi McCoy, contemporary (2003)
Zebra, $6.50, ISBN 0-8217-7497-2
Judi McCoy's latest guardian angel romance novel, Heaven Sent, has a promising first chapter, but soon everything gets shot straight down to hell (pardon, guardian angel fans) by the Eerie Creepy Porcelein Doll Little Girl that is the hero's daughter. I swear I still have nightmares when I happen to hear the name "Phoebe" around me. Which is also why I have to temporarily stop watching Charmed on TV, although I can't say that's too much of a big loss.
Eloise is a guardian angel. However, she is a very cynical guardian angel. She doesn't like kids and she pretty much leaves her charges alone until they grow up and then she gets down to business. Usually by then, her charges have grown unruly and she gives them the pink slip. This earns her the disapproval of the powers above, and as a result, our angel is sent down to Earth to live as a mortal until she learns the meaning of love, faith, and all that rot.
So now she is Eloise Starr, a kindergarten teacher. It's probably too much to expect the powers above to be a little more 21st century and send Eloise down as a policewoman or something, I guess. To Eloise's shock, she realizes that one of her students, Phoebe, is the daughter of the late Janet Marie. Janet was Eloise's charge, and Eloise still feels that she has failed her duty when Janet turns out a complete flop as mother to Phoebe and wife to Nathan Baxter. Eloise also has secret feelings for Nathan that is far from pure, and now that she has a chance to act on these desires, dare she reach out and grab Nathan with both her hands?
I like the idea of cynical, trash-talking guardian angels, but Ms McCoy here doesn't slowly show Eloise the way as much as she takes the frying pan of righteousness and smacks me in the face. The preachy love conquers all message here isn't too bad for a Carebear story, but unfortunately, most of the more nauseating antics come from Phoebe. In the first chapter, Phoebe throws tantrums and acts like a confused and lonely five year old. But as soon as Eloise arrives into her life, Phoebe mutates into a stumpy midget with creepy, creepy eyes and unnerving sageness. When Eloise is down, Phoebe will sneak up to her and offer to make her happy. Phoebe draws angelic paintings of Daddy, Phoebe, and a New Mommy. Phoebe says "touching" and "wise" things that have no business coming from a confused five-year old.
That creepy child vampiress boss in Laurell K Hamilton's Circus Of The Damned is Miss Piggy compared to this Child Bride of Chuckie lil' girl that emanates Fragile Sadness and Precious Moments from her demonic frail frame. In short, Phoebe is not a little girl as much as she is an animated and no doubt possessed Precious Moments porcelein doll looking for love. And won't you love her too? Give me the biggest crucifix you can find and let me bludgeon her in the head with that crucifix because damn it, that Phoebe really gives me the creeps. And the worst thing is, she's everywhere in this book. There's just no escaping this monster.
On their own, Nate and Eloise make a decent couple (although the whole horny angels in love with mortals thing kinda creeps me out a little too - I mean, if a stout chubby cherub sports a baby erection as he spies on me bathe or something, I will scream). They aren't groundbreaking and the traditional home-and-hearth message the story preaches isn't anything new, but still, they are likable characters. But this story isn't fooling me, not one bit. This is no Touched By An Angel. With that Phoebe, this is The Omen Part XVI. The moment I finally reach the last page, I can't drop this book fast enough to run to the wine cabinet. Please, Ms McCoy, don't this to me ever again, I beg you.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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