I’m definitely a Catherine Anderson fan, so I was really amazed the first couple of chapters of this book fell flat for me. Guess I shouldn’t say that about angels, but they’re a bit too dry for me and I felt myself losing interest in the story. But I kept reading, and am I ever so glad I did. Ms. Anderson eventually brought me to tears, a complete turnaround from the beginning.
Gabe Valance is a gunslinger, moving from place to place to avoid over-confident youngsters trying to make a name for themselves in bringing him down. In Random, Colorado that happens on Christmas morning when Gabe is cut down, the last thing he sees a beautiful angel’s face in a candlelit window above where he lies as he takes his last breath. But the next thing he knows he’s facing God’s angels who give him options to save his soul for the hereafter. Not really believing this is happening, Gabe chooses Nan Hoffman, a local seamstress who needs help in finding herself again. He might as well have some fun over the next month with a beauty like her, especially considering all the restrictions the angels throw at him.
Having run from the collusion of her father and fiance, Nan and her sister traveled from the East Coast to Random, where opportunity gave them just what they needed to start over, keeping their secrets and living low to avoid detection. Just as she’s beginning to feel safe and she lets her guard down a bit, a man bursts into her life, demanding she marry him or he’ll spill all of her secrets to the sheriff. Not like being blackmailed one bit by this gunslinger, Nan really has no choice. She marries Gabe, all the while planning how she and Laney can run again if and when the time comes.
I absolutely love Gabe. Though his calling is not what he’d ever dreamed in his life, he deals with it as optimistically as possible. He lives life the same way, smiling and laughing as often as possible. That hasn’t kept him from sinning, though, through the years, so now’s his chance to do some good. While he starts out doing whatever necessary to get Nan to comply with his dictates, as he gets to know this strong, independent woman, he hates he’s had to lie to her, blackmail her, among other things to get what he wants as fast as he can. Nan learns to laugh once she begins to trust Gabe, a man of his word so far – something she’s never experienced. Gabe receives so many firsts of his life with Nan, including his first Thanksgiving, all things he never had as a child of a prostitute.
When they decide to make their marriage real, it’s Gabe who puts a stop to it all – he can’t go forward with lies between them. Ranting at the angels who have now abandoned him, Gabe makes the momentous decision to tell Nan all and hope she believes him. There’s only a few days left before history repeats itself, leaving Nan on her own once again. He wants those days to be perfect for them both. And these days just before Christmas are perfect, especially after he breaks a few rules which relieves his guilt that plagued him as a bystander in his own life. As D-day approaches, despite anything done to change fate, Nan is faced with losing Gabe just as he told her it would happen. But, of course, there are plenty of twists because you know our hero can’t die. I enjoyed all these scenes at the end, which is where I ended up misty eyed with all the emotion between these characters who now know exactly what it is to love wholeheartedly and unconditionally.
So I’m very, very glad I hung in there with this book, despite the shaky start for me. Ms. Anderson writes a wonderful western with characters who are honorable and take life’s lessons to heart.
Random, Colorado, is just another stop on the road for solitary gunslinger Gabriel Valance. Known for his drinking, gambling, and womanizing, he prefers to remain a stranger to anyone who crosses his path. But when an upstart gunslinger catches Gabe off guard and shoots him down, he regrets his empty, lonely life with his dying breath….
Golden-haired beauty Nancy Hoffman settled in Random after fleeing an abusive past. Caring for her younger sister and working in a hat shop help her to forge ahead, though she remains fearful and mistrustful of men—and marriage….
Their paths will cross when Gabe gets a second chance at life and a divine mission: to sweep Nancy off her feet, gain her trust, and convince her to believe in his love. And in doing so, the once-hardened cowboy may save himself….
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