A month before Christmas, artist Anne Fletcher prays that her bitter, career-obsessed son, Roy, will find a special woman he can genuinely love. Her prayer request reaches the angel, Gabriel, who decides to assign the case to Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy, who are thrilled to be returning to Earth to engage in a little matchmaking over the holiday season. Although they disagree at first over who would make the best partner for Roy, their mischievous machinations eventually lead to a romantic pairing and true love.
Roy was once engaged only to have his fiancée dump him for his own father, a betrayal of both him and his mother that cut deep. Ever since, he's poured his energy into running a successful computer security software business and has no time or inclination for dating. Then one day, he witnesses a young woman being thrown from her bicycle on his property - an incident that unbeknownst to him was engineered by the angel trio - but Julie Wilcoff, who turns out to be the daughter of Roy's new head of security, accuses him of hitting her with his car, something that he adamantly denies. Even though he accepts no responsibility for the accident, his history with women makes him all but certain she'll probably try to sue him, so to head it off at the pass, he offers her a generous settlement. Julie storms into his office, incensed that he would think so little of her and refuses to accept the money. Slowly Roy comes to believe that perhaps he's misjudged her and extends an olive branch, which leads to them growing closer and eventually falling in love. But when Julie turns down Roy's offer to move in with him before Christmas, his cynicism rears it's ugly head again, leaving their relationship seemingly doomed and the angels in a race against time to repair the damage before Christmas Day when they must return to heaven.
Those Christmas Angels is the fifth book of Debbie Macomber's Angels Everywhere holiday-themed series, which returns to its mostly romantic roots. In this one we have Roy Fletcher, a businessman who is deeply cynical about love and relationships following a devastating betrayal that affected both him and his mother, Anne. But Anne has come to terms with it and prays that her son will, too, so that he'll be able find someone he can truly love and trust. Her prayer request lands on the desk of the archangel, Gabriel, who assigns Shirley, Goodness and Mercy to the case. They're thrilled to be matchmaking again, but initially disagree over who would be the best match for Roy. Then along comes Julie Wilcoff, the daughter of Roy's newly hired chief of security. Their first meeting is anything but cordial. In spite of that, though, Mercy thinks they'd be a perfect fit, so the angels engineer a little accident, which only ratchets up the tension between Roy and Julie. But eventually they find their way to a more romantic place that looks like it's going to lead to an HEA if only Roy can overcome his distrust of women.
Roy is a successful businessman who several years ago had a serious relationship with a woman named Aimee. They were on the path to getting married until Aimee met Roy's father, Burton, and from there, things went downhill. Burton and Aimee had an affair that turned into devastation and broken hearts for Roy and his mother, Anne, when both their relationships crumbled, and Anne was cheated out of a fair divorce settlement. Since then, Anne has picked up the pieces of her life and has reinvented herself as an artist, making a modest living, but Roy has languished in bitterness and cynicism. Anne's Christmas wish is for Roy to find a woman who can love him for himself and who he can trust and love in return. After hiring a new head of security, Roy has a chance meeting with the man's daughter, Julie, in which he's pretty rude about her presence on his property. From there, the angel trio creates an accident in which Julie is thrown from her bike and it appears that Roy may have hit her with his car. The two argue incessantly over who was at fault, and although he admits no wrongdoing, Roy decides to head off an expected lawsuit by paying Julie off. Incensed that he would be so distrustful, she refuses his money, and gradually Roy starts to open his heart to her, thinking that she really is different. Romance begins to blossom, but when Julie refuses an offer to move in with Roy, his old tendency to distrust starts rearing its ugly head again, leading to a breakup in need of a Christmas miracle to get their relationship back on track. Although Roy has good reasons for being so cynical, I had a hard time really liking him because he takes it to a level that's pretty sexist, lumping all women into the lying, cheating category with his ex. He's emotionally closed off, and when in a pique of anger, can say some rather mean things. The only thing that saved his character for me is that he has a few softer, more vulnerable moments, and he does eventually come to his senses. But I would have liked it even better if he'd groveled a bit more once he did.
Julie is a PE teacher and soccer coach who's been very athletic all her life. She's quite tall and larger-boned for a woman, so she's never had the male attention that her more petite, prettier sister did. She recently lost her mother and has been living with her dad ever since to help him out with the bills and to find comfort in their shared grief. Her father is finally ready to go back to work and gets hired by Roy to head up security at Fletcher Industries. Julie first meets Roy when she carpools part-way to work with her father, who drops her off in front of the building so she can bike the rest of the way. Roy rudely questions her presence there, leaving the impression that he's an ogre. Then later there's the bike accident. When Julie receives the settlement offer in the mail, she's incensed, marching right into Roy's office to give him a piece of her mind, which only gets her forcibly thrown out of the building. However, as time goes on, she and Roy start to come to an understanding, which leads to friendship and a little romance. But when Julie refuses his offer to move in with him, he thinks she's angling for more money. After trying to reason with him and getting nowhere, she's finally had enough, leaving the angels with their work cut out for them getting these two back together in time for Christmas. Julie is a tough cookie who's weathered through the death of her mother admirably. She's a bit of a spitfire who doesn't put up with Roy's shenanigans, but she also recognizes how hurt he was in the past and tries to help him overcome that by being a good person and proving she doesn't want his money. I'm not sure if I could have dealt with his cynical nature as long as she did, but I admire her for staying true to herself, which eventually was what turned Roy around.
Those Christmas Angels was a pretty good read. I felt like the romance between Roy and Julie could have been developed a little better by either making the book a bit longer or by paring down Anne's part in it. Roy's mom gets a decent amount of page time and POV scenes in her own little subplot. After Shirley allows Anne to see her, the woman paints an angel, which her friend, who's an art dealer, works on selling for her. I liked how Anne and Roy were able to find a bit of karma through that part of the story, but it did take away from Roy and Julie's time together. The story takes place over only a month's time, so their romance is a bit quick for two people who start out basically hating each other to come to a point of, not just falling in love, but being ready for marriage as well. However, the magic that the angels bring to the story and its generally heartwarming nature helped me to suspend disbelief to some extent. I just wish they'd had a few more scenes together to build both their characterizations and their romantic connection. Overall, I liked the story despite it's extremely prickly hero and I enjoyed having another visit with Shirley, Goodness and Mercy who, while still rather mischievous, seemed a little better behaved this time around.:-)
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