Review by Layla Abdullah-Poulos
By Cait Reynolds
$14.39, pp. 226. Paper
$ 3.99, pp. 191, Kindle
We all identify faults and flaws about ourselves that society uses to judge and label. We internalize them, and they affect our esteem and personalities. In ANGEL HANDS by Cait Reynolds, main characters Mireille and Erik have to navigate through life while resisting against the consequences of their physical flaws. Erik struggles with physical deformities he has had since birth and Mireille with the misfortune of being born a plain-looking female. Reynolds brilliantly throws these two flawed but deliciously strong protagonists together and writes a romance that enthralls the reader.
Despite being born in a “man’s world”, Mireille is a competent businessperson who tests the patience of any man daring to underestimate her acumen. Mireille is resolute to her plainness, and she uses it to her advantage. Reynolds constructs a heroine that does a feminist proud. Mireille efficiently runs the reconstruction of her father’s opera house and is confident that no male can best her. That is until she meets Erik, who begins to dismantle Mireille’s tough façade.
Erik is accustomed to living in the shadows. It is there that he learns the skills necessary to entice a woman. He sets his site on Mireille because she dared invade his opera house and make changes to his refuge from society. Drenched in darkness, Erik uses his role as “Opera Ghost” to rattle the nerves of everyone in the opera house. He only exposes himself to the light to seduce Mireille, which he finds is not that easy. Erik is determined to dominate Mireille, but he discovers that he is losing control of himself as well.Reynolds writes a phenomenal rendition of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. The author makes the characters her own and delivers a novel that diverges from the original as well as the traditional romance. Mireille and Erik are not physically perfect, but their passion for each other relegates their physical features to the consequential – where they belong. Reynolds builds sexual tension between the couple through a series of confrontations, where each gives as good as they get.
The sensual scenes in ANGEL HANDS tantalize and feed the burgeoning desire between Mirelle and Erik. Reynolds impressed me with the way she expertly designed the novel’s love scenes. The author does not bombard the reader with a series of explicit scenes; instead, she gives just enough for some vicarious reading. The author’s exploration of sensual bondage alone will have readers racing to buy some rope! ANGEL HANDS may also appeal to Muslim readers who seek to read romance novels with limited explicit sexual scenes, which is one of the reasons why I decided to review this book.
ANGEL HANDS is a fantastic debut romance. I was unable to put the novel down; the characters were engaging, and the book’s plot was absorbing. I am confident that publishers will scramble to get Cait Reynolds on their roster of romance writers.