Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy return to Earth once again, this time with apprentice angel Will in tow. They've been tasked with training their charge on how to be a good Prayer Ambassador. It's New Year's Eve and the angels can't resist a little trip down to Times Square, where Will gets caught up in the festive atmosphere and decides to lend a little helping hand, nudging two strangers with his wings so that they collide into each other. As it turns out, they were supposed to meet and fall in love, but not for another year, which causes a little wrinkle in heaven's plan for them.
Lucie Ferrara and Aren Fairchild meet after accidentally--or so they think--bumping into each other during the New Year's Eve celebration. They impulsively share a kiss and then spend nearly the entire night getting to know each other at a nearby diner. Although she greatly enjoyed her time with Aren, Lucie, a chef, feels the timing isn't quite right given that she's working long days, trying to open her own restaurant. Aren urges her to think about it, and if she decides to continue their relationship to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building one week later. Unable to stop thinking about Aren, she decides to go, but a twist of fate prevents her from making the meeting. They both think it wasn't meant to be, but nearly a year later, Aren, who is a food critic, is given the job of reviewing the hot new restaurant, Heavenly Delights. Little does he know that Lucie is the owner, and he ends up giving her a scathing critique after being served food that's terrible thanks to the angels' well-meaning but botched meddling. Lucie fears that the review might destroy all of her and her mom's hard work until her customers come to the rescue. After receiving hundreds of negative comments on his review, Aren's editor demands that he give Heavenly Delights another chance. This time Aren loves the food and also discovers the owner's identity. He and Lucie reconnect and things are just as good between them as they were the year before. But will Lucie be able to forgive him when she finds out he's the anonymous food critic who nearly tanked her business?
Angels at the Table is a short novel that is the seventh and final story in Debbie Macomber's Angels Everywhere series that follows a group of three mischievous angels named Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy. As Prayer Ambassadors, they're supposed to answer people's prayers particularly at the holidays, but they can never seem to resist interfering in human affairs, which can get them into trouble with their boss, the archangel Gabriel. This time, they're joined by a new apprentice angel named Will, who they're training and who succumbs to their special brand of holiday hijinks.
It's New Year's Eve, and the angels take Will to Earth to see the humans celebrating in Times Square, where with a nudge of his wings, he causes two strangers, Aren and Lucie, to bump into one another. It's the stroke of midnight, when everyone around them is kissing, so Aren impulsively kisses Lucie, who enjoys it. Afterward, they spend nearly the entire night at a diner talking. Their connection is strong, but with the responsibility of opening a new restaurant in the next few months, Lucie feels the timing isn't right. Aren suggests that she take some time to think things over, and if Lucie chooses to pursue a relationship, he'll be waiting for her at the top of the Empire State Building one week later. Over the following week, Lucie can't get Aren off her mind, so she decides to meet him, but a last minute emergency involving her mom prevents her from going. They both think it wasn't meant to be, but nearly one year later, Aren, who works as a food critic for a New York newspaper, is assigned to review Lucie's new restaurant. He has no idea that she's the owner, but the food is so terrible (thanks to the meddling angels) that he has no choice but to pan it. Thankfully Lucie's loyal customers come to her rescue, commenting online about how wrong Aren was, which leads his boss to insist that he give it another go. On his second visit, Aren finally meets Lucie again, and this time, the food is fabulous, making him print a retraction, but Lucie is still holding a grudge against the anonymous reviewer. Just as she and Aren are starting to reconnect, she discovers his secret identity, which could ruin their newfound relationship.
Lucie made a lot of sacrifices to attend culinary school and she's proud of her work as a chef. She and her mom have plans to invest her mom's life savings into opening their own restaurant, Heavenly Delights, which is Lucie's dream. They've secured the storefront for it, just as she meets Aren for the first time, and she knows that the next few months are going to entail a lot of hard work that won't really leave time for romance. That's why, although she feels very connected to Aren after their New Year's Eve meeting, she's reluctant to keep things going. However, after not being able to get Aren out of her mind for the next week, she decides to meet him as planned until her mother's accident prevents her from going. Although she's thought of Aren often over the past year and frequently peruses the newspaper for his byline, she's never been able to find him and thinks it wasn't meant to be. Then one day, about a year later, she reads the scathing review the newspaper's food critic, Eaton Well, wrote about her restaurant. Lucie is livid about it and fears that she and her mom may lose the business because of it, until her loyal customers come to her rescue. A couple of weeks later, Aren shows up at Heavenly Delights, leaving Lucie stunned. With a little nudge from their family members, they reconnect and things are going very well between them. Although Eaton Well publishes a new glowing review, Lucie just can't forget how awful the first one was. She has no idea that Aren and Eaton are one and the same and when she finds out, it may spell disaster for their relationship. Lucie is a talented chef, a hard worker, and very determined to make Heavenly Delights a success. She has a strong relationship with her mother and wants a family. Aren is everything she's dreamed of in a man, but she'll have to learn forgiveness in order to make things work between them.
Aren has only just moved to New York when he and Lucie meet for the first time on New Year's Eve. He's recently divorced and although he wants a wife and kids, he's not really actively looking for a woman after getting his heart broken. However, the conversation with Lucie flows so easily, he just has to see her again, which is why he suggests that she take some time to think things over before nixing the possibility of them pursuing a relationship. When she doesn't show up, he's a little heartbroken, but decides it wasn't meant to be. Aren writes his reviews under the pseudonym, Eaton Well, and his contract with the newspaper forbids him from revealing his identity to anyone other than immediate family. He's assigned to review Heavenly Delights but thanks to the mischievous angels interference, he finds the food completely unpalatable and pans the restaurant. After the backlash from customers, his editor sends him back for another try, and this time, he discovers that Lucie is the co-owner and chef. Also, the food is delicious, so he prints a retraction to his original review. He and Lucie hit it off again and things are going well. He knows that he can't keep his secret identity from her forever, but he also can't reveal himself without breaking his contract. When Lucie finds out, she isn't so understanding. Aren is a really nice guy who was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Although he wrote a scathing review the first time around, he didn't really have much choice after all the crazy things the angels did to try to "spice up" Lucie's already superb cooking. Then he simply couldn't tell her who he was without legal ramifications. I think he did the best he could. He was also open-minded the second time around and was very apologetic that everything happened the way it did.
Angels at the Table was a classic Debbie Macomber holiday rom-com. Will was a nice addition to the original trio of angels. He's every bit as impish as the other three but very concerned when things go awry. All the angels are perhaps a bit childish at times, but their hearts are always in the right place. However, their antics always seem to get them into trouble, not only with Gabriel, but they also cause trouble for their charges as well. Will's misstep in Times Square leads to Aren and Lucie meeting sooner than they were supposed to, and all four of them very nearly ruin the couple's second chance by quite literally over-seasoning the sauce. But all's well that ends well. Lucie learns an important lesson in forgiveness and Aren learns to be a little kinder in his reviewing process. They fit well together as a couple and I enjoyed the little report from Gabriel about what the future holds for them that serves as something of an epilogue. Overall, Angels at the Table was a nice wrap-up to the Angels Everywhere series.
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