Guardian Angel (This DIK review was written by a reader)
1990, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Pocket, $7.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0671670069 Part of a series
If there was ever a time when a Regency James Bond (aka the Marquess of Cainewood) was put to shame by anyone (and a woman yet), it's in the delightful Julie Garwood comedy of Jade and Caine.
Sent by Caine's brother to protect him from murderers, Jade's mission is to become Caine's guardian angel for two weeks (without him knowing it of course). She intends to accomplish this with such an outrageous plan that it will just come to prove to you that there is no limit to a woman's deviousness nor Julie Garwood's fertile imagination. The rich and devastatingly handsome ex-government operative never saw it coming. Neither did I for that matter, and was surprised at how easily I was taken in.
She will play the part of the "damsel in distress" chased by murderers into a seedy part of town. She will ask Cain to put an end to her misery convincing him (and me) she is "daft", then add a few tears just secure his pity (and mine). . . Just when he's good and ready to "throttle" her, she will seduce him, always thinking herself in control, unconcerned for her reputation and hoping this will make for good memories when she will be forced to leave him. But Caine falls in love with her. . . because you see, as accomplished as Jade is in thieving, lying and in manipulating even the most dangerous of men, she is pure of heart and possesses that innocent quality that all Garwood heroines have, that trait which will lead even the most cynical of men to capitulate.
Though Jade may infuriate Caine, goad him into acting the shrew, prick his manly pride, and burn down his newly constructed stables (just so that she could save his father's life while he's busy saving the horses), she remains the simple and humble little girl devoid of any artifice whose pride in her "profession" hides the inherent insecurity of not being loved. Yet, she has the Marquess running in circles and eventually without his pants on right in his best friend's parlour, the Marquess of Lyonwood. . . (remember The Lion's Lady?).
But Caine loves her, and tells her and tells her, to the point of exasperation for she is convinced she does not deserve him. Afterall, she has deceived him so much, she is sure he will never recover when he finds out to what extent she has gone to to protect those she cares for.
Caine takes her in stride however, as he does her squinting-gold tooth-semi-retired pirate-of-an-uncle, whom he knows will walk away from his mansion with all his silver. "Keeping appearances" is how Black Harry explains it. The secondary characters in this book are in fact as engaging as the main ones; they are funny, witty and sad at the same time, but they bond in a way so rare in this 20th Century that we, New Age wordly people should take lessons from their honor and from the respect they have for one another.
Even Caine's butler Stern has a story of his own. He'll help himself to his master's dinner if he is late and becomes so enaptured by Jade that he helps him orchestrate a shot-gun wedding providing the pistol to aim at her back should she balk at reciting her vows.
Every time Jade attempts to leave after completing her mission, Caine "impresses" her and brings her back until she realizes that in reality she has fooled no one. Caine's love is true and all-encompassing. He loves her and respects her for what she is.
This book really has two plots: one directed at the Marquess of Cainewood and another directed at the readers. When you're laughing at Caine's plight, you don't realize she fooled you twice as much. Hats off to Ms. Garwood - you are a master at deception, and you adeptly prove it in this story.
Naturally, the multitude of characters blend so well that you're left wanting for more. It is therefore no surprise either that the love-making between Jade and Caine is lusty and engaging, especially when Jade who's doing the engaging. . . .
Skeptics beware: Guardian Angel is a story with a fairy-tale realism (anacronistic as this may sound) that will capture not only your attention but also your heart. The more you resist it, the worst it will be for you. So you might as well embrace this story and save yourself the trouble. Ask the Marquess of Cainewood. . . .
-- Liana LaRiccia
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