Original Publication Year: 1996
Genre(s): Romance (Contemporary)
Format: Audio (downloaded from library)
Narrated by: Anna Fields
I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance. Heck I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction period, preferring historicals, mysteries, SFF etc…. So this really was a stretch out of my normal reading rut and is precisely why I am participating in the Eclectic Reader Challenge. For most of my life I hated beets and then one day 6 or so years ago a friend served me beets that were prepared just right and now they are one of my favorite foods. I don’t want to be so biased in my reading choices that I miss out on gems or judge a whole genre based on the literary equivalent of pickled beets…. or something.
I chose Kiss An Angel because it was near the top on a Goodreads list of Contemporary romance and had one of the highest average ratings. While, this book has not won me over to the contemporary romance genre, I do understand why it is beloved.
NOTE: There will be a few mild spoilers below, nothing huge but I can’t really talk about the book properly without revealing some of it and it is revealed in the first 20 pages.
The set-up is this: Daisy is a spoiled rich girl who has never had to work a day in her life and finds herself in deep financial troubles when her super model mother passes away. Her disapproving father (parents were never married), an American diplomat to Russia, insists that in order for him to bail her out of her troubles, she must marry a man of his choosing and stay married for 6 months. The man of his choosing is surly Alpha male Alex Markov who is, of all things, a manager of and performer in a second-rate traveling circus. As you might imagine things are rough in the beginning but guess what? Alex and Daisy find that they are a match made in heaven.
As you can probably guess, by the primary setting being a second-rate traveling circus, the characters and ambiance of the book is decidedly unique. Both of the protagonists have Baggage with a capital ‘B’ in the form of crappy parents and the main conflict revolves around them overcoming their emotional dysfunction. The second main conflict of the book is secrets – great big honking secrets that beyond just creating conflict, also provide a lot of forward momentum and drive to read. Phillips takes her time and doesn’t take the easy way out in getting these two together which I appreciate. She also does a good job of creating an extremely unlikely pair, even sans baggage, and illustrating why they are actually perfect for each other. So for the big things, mission accomplished.
I still didn’t love it though and it wasn’t all to do with the contemporary setting. I ended up liking Daisy all right but she is not the type of female character I really connect with and her transformation from spoiled rich girl to hard working, good-hearted animal whisperer frequently made me cringe. I also never really warmed up to Alex not being able to get over his level of cruelty at the beginning, his lack of humor and the fact that for the first quarter of the book he calls Daisy "angel face" (NOTE: Any guy calls me angel face he’ll have angels flying around his head after I punch him in his face). On a lighter note, this book is definitely a product of its age (pubbed in 1996) as Daisy has a fantasy about making out with a guy in a white limousine to the soothing sounds of Michael Bolton:0).
FINAL VERDICT: While Kiss An Angel was not enough to convince me that I have been missing out all these years not reading contemporary romance, it was good enough for me to not dismiss the genre in the future. If you are already a fan of this genre you will probably like this one if you haven't already read it.
Do you have any really fantastic and perhaps out of the mold contemporary romances to recommend?
Both the Read Harder and Eclectic Reader Challenges have romance categories. For the Eclectic Reader Challenge it's specifically Contemporary romance and for the Read Harder challenge it is just romance.