Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publisher: Avon, February 1996
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Pretty, flighty Daisy Devreaux can either go to jail or marry the mystery man her father has chosen for her. Arranged marriages don't happen in the modern world, so how did the irrepressible Daisy find herself in this fix?
Alex Markov, as humorless as he is deadly handsome, has no intention of playing the loving bridegroom to a spoiled little feather-head with champagne tastes. He drags Daisy from her uptown life to a broken down traveling circus and sets out to tame her to his ways.
But this man without a soul has met his match in a woman who's nothing but heart. Before long, passion will send them flying sky high without a safety net... risking it all in search of a love that will last forever.
As a child, Daisy Devreaux lived in her glamorous, world-famous model mother’s shadow, traveled the world, and had an unorthodox education. After her mother passes away, Daisy falls into trouble and lands on her father’s doorstep, begging him for help. A man who is proud of his Russian heritage and disappointed in what he perceives as his daughter’s airheadedness, he marries her off to Alex Markov with a condition: if she can stay married to him for six months, he’ll get rid of the trouble following her and set up a trust fund.
Daisy, while sweet, kind, and maybe a bit too generous, is nobody’s airhead. She takes on Alex Markov, the scowling manager of Quest Brothers’ failing traveling circus, and finds her true worth. Kiss an Angel is one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read, and I expect nothing less from Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
I felt defensive of Daisy from the get-go. Even though she hadn’t dealt with her grief in the most mature way, the amount of condescension her father treats her with broke my heart. Her character begins to evolve from the moment the book begins: soon, she’s facing down her fears, speaking up for others, and eventually herself.
Alex was a harder nut to crack. He made his decision about Daisy (same as her dad) and is determined to stick with their six months, then wash his hands of the marriage. He tries to stick by his convictions, but the glimpses into his mind reveal he’s not as hard-hearted as he’d like to be.
With two personalities on the opposite ends of the spectrum, one could only hope for romantic fireworks, and boy, did Phillips deliver. The constant thrum of tension moves the story’s pace rapidly, forcing both characters into revealing parts of themselves they had not intention of sharing. I loved Alex’s slow confidence as he tells stories of his childhood and Daisy’s open-hearted…well, everything.
Their relationship’s evolution is detailed in the circus ring itself. At first, Daisy’s selling tickets. Then she’s a part of the opening spec/parade. After their relationship begins to heat up, Alex adds her to his act. The amount of trust both characters have in each other (whether or not they want to share it) is all there, in that one circus act. It’s amazing.
The climax? Well, let’s just say I sat down to read a few pages to fill fifteen minutes. Two hours later, I put the book down and felt like my heart would burst. Kiss an Angel is absolutely extraordinary and definitely recommended for any romance reader.