cover image Once an Angel

Once an Angel

Teresa Medeiros. Bantam, $7.5 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-553-29409-5

Orphaned at 11 in 1865 when her father dies on an island off New Zealand where he has gone to search for gold, Emily Claire Scarborough is, at 18, bent on revenge. She has survived the last seven years at the Foxworth Seminary for Young Ladies in London, learning to fend for herself without benefit of a steady allowance from her absentee guardian. Bitterness and longing mingle in Em's heart, and sustain her until she is summarily sent packing by the school's surly mistress to New Zealand, in search of the man responsible for her miserable existence all those years. Washing up on the beach like so much driftwood, Em soon finds that serendipity has dumped her practically into the lap of her errant guardian, a dark, swarthy Robinson Crusoe-type who has spurned London society. What ensues is an idyllic interlude in a beautiful, untamed paradise, shattered when both heroine and hero are rudely awakened by the arrival of reality and the outside world. Though laced with evocative descriptions of the exotic wilderness, this romance ultimately sours, beleaguered with a plot whose logic is as farflung as New Zealand is from London. Medeiros wrote Heather and Velvet. (Apr.)