Angel and the Enemy
By Marnie L. Pehrson
Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: C.E.S Business Consultants (November 17, 2006)
Having never read a piece of work specifically categorised as ‘clean-romance’ I was curious about this novel. I must admit that there was a part of me that thought that ‘clean-romance’ translated into ‘boring’. Truth could not be further from reality. I was pleasantly surprised by how this story was not only deeply entertaining, it contained all of the ingredients for a great story which are suspense, drama and action.
Briefly, the story begins sometime during the Civil War between the States in America. Angelina Stone’s world is falling apart. Her beloved father lies rotting in a Union prison when her Georgia home is invaded by Yankee soldiers. She is traumatised by a particular experience and her saviour is one Elijah Willoughby. It is a long time before Angelina comes to terms with what happened. After the War ends and when her father returns, he convinces her to take up a teaching position in another town. There, she comes face to face with none other than Elijah. Their romance begins but it is not a journey without many obstacles; it reaches a satisfactory conclusion, nevertheless.
Certainly, I was hooked from the first page and I wanted to know more. Classified as a romance, it was easy to follow the plot and I could hazard a guess as to what would happen next. This by no means indicates that the story is without suspense for there were times when I was stunned by revelations made; for instance, I enjoyed discovering just who the man who stumbled along on one leg really was.
Living in the Far East and not having a clue how the land Ms. Pehrson wrote about looks like, I was still able to picture in my mind’s eye the scenes she painted with her words. The landscape came alive and the various scenes were splendidly depicted. I can all but picture the homes of Angelina, Bonnie, Elijah, the school room and other locations mentioned therein. The conversation is dramatic and rather quaint. Care has clearly been taken to picture each and every portion of this book and an example of this is the way in which the ‘ladies of the night’ speak when Elijah happens to visit a place of ill repute. Their manner of speech and description of the place is apt and precise. A scene that requires special mention is the one where Angelina does some shopping in the General Store – the description of the items for sale added to the element of authenticity of the time period in question.
The main characters are developed and easily recognisable. The fear Angelina feels after her traumatic experience comes across as very real and palpable. Her strength of character and yet, that secret desire to have a knight in shining armour come rescue her is certainly something a lot of women would identify with. Certainly, I feel for her and I found myself genuinely wanting the two main characters to fall for each other. Elijah Willoughby is depicted with all of the normal human anxieties and clumsiness of a man in love; the sensitivity with which he handles the situations before him and his acts of kindness all but strengthens the reader’s perception of him.
If there is to be criticism of the book, then I would say that Angelina’s younger siblings somewhat fade into the background soon after the introduction and seem superfluous. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend Angel and the Enemy to anyone who has a soft spot for romance and wishes to pass a few hours in a most pleasurable manner. It will leave a reader feeling all warm and happy with the knowledge that there is still some chivalry left in this world.