Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Book Series: A Hired Gunslinger #1; The Cowboy and the Lady #4
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Blue Falcon
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of the western historical romance Angel Heart by Victoria Thompson. It is also known as Texas Angel, book #1 in the “A Hired Gunslinger” series. Originally this was released as a Zebra Lovegram.
Part 1 of Angel Heart
As Angel Heart, or Texas Angel, begins, the hero of the book, Christian “Kid” Collins–who was a supporting character in Texas Triumph–is engaged in a gun battle at the home of his sister and brother-in-law, Rose and Pete Hastings, with gunslicks hired by Harlan Snyder, a ruthless rancher.
Sadly, Rose, Pete, and their unborn child have been killed. Christian is seriously wounded when he tries to escape. He is found by Comanche Indians and taken to the Diamond R ranch, home to Angelica Ross and her younger brother, Robbie. The Comanche brought him here partially due to their respect for Angelica and Robbie’s late father, Cameron.
While nursing him back to health, Angelica and Christian discover they have a mutual foe in Snyder, and Angelica asks for Christian’s help to fight him. He agrees to do so.
However, they will also have to fight their attraction for each other. They don’t, and Angelica and Christian become lovers. After which, he proposes to her, but she refuses. Despite this, Christian agrees to stay on to help Angelica with Snyder as well as help the Diamond R fulfill an Army contract to provide beef to Indian reservations.
Part 2 of Angel Heart
To that end, Christian calls in some help from his friends from the Circle M ranch in Texas Triumph. These are not ordinary ranch hands. The men are some of the most notorious gunslingers in Texas.
In concluding a successful cattle roundup, Angelica and Christian’s relationship deepens. However, he is now reluctant to marry her. This is not due to Angelica’s earlier rejection; it has more to do with Christian’s shame over his family and his concerns about what his future will be. And whether or not he has one, given his history as a gunman.
He and Angelica also gain a new enemy, a prostitute named Sunny Day. The backstory: Sunny was being sexually and physically abused by Snyder when Christian intervened to stop it. He and Sunny slept together–as in, they slept in the same bed but did not have sex.
Afterward, Sunny interpreted these acts as Christian being in love with her and wanting to protect her from Snyder’s wrath. Christian, obviously, viewed things differently. Hurt and angry that her dream isn’t going to happen, Sunny hooks up with Snyder’s newest hired gun, Tom Rivers, who was brought in specifically to kill Christian.
Part 3 of Angel Heart
Rivers makes this attempt at a party, where he tries to goad Christian into a gunfight. Christian refuses, and Rivers tries to shoot him in the back. In a surprising turn of events, Rivers is shot and killed by Miles Blackmon, a friend of Christian’s.
After a legal inquiry, the shooting is ruled justifiable. This angers Snyder, who makes his final move, kidnapping Angelica and Robbie. Christian saves Angelica, killing Snyder in the process (Robbie was taken to another location and released)
In the end, Christian shares his fears with Angelica, who helps him get beyond them, and “Kid” Collins “dies.” That’s the story the townspeople of Marsden’s Corners, Texas, tell two gun-slicks who come to town to kill Christian. They both leave without violence.
Angelica and Christian have two children, with another third on the way–and celebrate their Happily Ever After.
Angel Heart is a rare book where the hero is more emotional than the heroine. Emotional heroes are something of a trademark of Ms. Thompson’s historical romances. Angelica and Christian are a well-matched couple: two people who believe that they are too flawed to be loved by anyone.
When they find each other, they discover that this is not the case.
There isn’t a huge amount of character development or depth here. The supporting characters are pretty one-dimensional. It’s never really explained–other than the fact that he’s a greedy evil bastard–why Snyder wanted to court Angelica or why he wanted to kill Christian so badly.
The love scenes between Angelica and Christian are very mild and not very exciting.
There is assault, battery, shootings, and a fire. The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line on Angel Heart (aka Texas Angel)
There are some areas that could use improvement, but the romance novel, Angel Heart, later reissued as Texas Angel, is a solid western historical by Victoria Thompson.
|Rating Report Card|
Ever since Angelica’s father died, Harlan Snyder had been angling to get his hands on her ranch, the Diamond R. And now, just when she had an important government contract to fulfill, she couldn’t find a single cowhand to hire on–all because of Snyder’s threats. It was only a matter of time before she lost the ranch…. That is, until the legendary gunfighter Kid Collins turned up on her doorstep, badly wounded. Angelica assessed his firmly muscled physique and stared into his startling blue eyes. Beneath all that blood and dirt he was the handsomest man she had ever seen, and the one person who could help her beat Snyder at his own game–if the price were not too high…
DEVILISH DESIRESAngel Heart (aka Texas Angel) by Victoria Thompson
Before Kid Collins knew what hit him, he had somehow agreed to act as a hired gunfighter–and for a lady. Or at least she looked like a lady, with her carefully pinned red hair and proud green eyes. But no lady would be trying to run a ranch on her own, let alone take on the likes of Harlan Snyder. She needed Kid Collins’ help, all right, but his help came with a price attached.