• Sahar Abdulaziz

ANGELS HANDS by Author Cait Reynolds

One word. Steamy.

Okay, maybe I need to use more than one word, but I think for integrity sake, I should first mention that I do not typically volunteer to read romance novels. Nothing against them, they are truly a literary art form, but just not my personal preference. With that said, I have read and enjoyed this author’s work in the past, and so I was open to the experience. However, Angel Hands by Cait Reynolds destroyed, -smashed, stomped on my ‘I never read romance’ and turned it into ‘I just read a fabulous, steamy romance novel that I would highly recommend!’

From page one I was hooked. The author opens with A Note from the Opera Ghost, a POV I enjoyed immensely, providing the reader a delicious glimpse into the mindset, personality, and diabolical workings of one of the main characters. With a delightful historical twist, dialog that entices and entertains, along with characters that your mind can envision easily, the stage was set. The curtains were drawn, and the Ballet de Amor commenced.

The story takes place in the Opera de Paris. Mireille Dubienne, a “pushy, sour-faced, and unfortunately educated spinster of twenty-seven” no longer wants a man in her life. Not after she had been so deeply hurt, discarded and replaced. Her heart became reduced to a block of ice while she steadfastly battled to stand firm against the world that casually devalues women who make it know they can and will think for themselves.

Left for spinsterhood, the overly competent Mireille repeatedly finds herself in the position of defending her rare –interdependence, granted by a generous father. Nevertheless, even he wishes his daughter would eventually acquiesce. Agree to be married off and although her bidders do little to entice the heart, they did offer a roof and a secure future. As appalling as that thought was, reality quickly set in when Mireille’s life took a sharp heart-wrenching turn. Forcing her to come to an unwelcomed decision, -and to secure a future from a pool of undesirable proposals, until…

Angel Hands, in my humble opinion, is more than just about romance, but an actual love story. Wedged powerfully between the hearts of two broken people a love and friendship bloomed. Initially, Mireille and her Ghost were sadly willing to settle for mere companionship, believing that neither was deserving of true commitment and a love that goes beyond the physical and nurtures the emotional ties, which endure.

But here’s why I think this book drew me in. Reynolds selected a period, the early 1900s when women were legally tethered to their husbands. Culturally objectified, bartered in and out of marriages, and considered mere appendages to be used as tools to satisfy male dominance. This author didn’t shy away from exposing this feature, but at the same time, made a clear distinction between callous misogynistic objectification and cruel male-dominated manipulation against sexual-romantic foreplay, and there is a distinction.

I’m glad the author also didn’t shy away from showing how her strong female character was still emotionally vulnerable. Nursing a hurt that almost allowed her to define all future choices based on societies uncompromising attitudes towards women’s roles. Even when Mireille made her final choice, the kindness, and generosity bestowed by her selected suitor was granted as a gift, -as opposed to her right as a human being. This too is a distinction and one that is unfortunately played out until today.

Grab a hot beverage of your choice, nestle yourself under the covers, and allow yourself to be momentarily transported back in time, to the richness and sophistication of the Opera House de Paris, where the Phantom lurks, waiting to steal many a reader’s hearts.

Cait Reynolds lives in Boston area with her husband and 4-legged fur child. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking delicious meals, running around the city, rock climbing like a boss, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes. Reynolds is able to pull from real life experiences such as her kidney transplant, and her writing reflects her passion for life from having to face the darkest places and find the will to laugh.

Angel Hands Sometimes, it is best to begin at the end. Angel Hands, by Cait Reynolds, begins at the end of The Phantom of the Opera, revealing, for the first time, the true story behind Leroux’s fantastical tale and the real fate of the Phantom himself. When the Opera de Paris is purchased and renovated, years after a mysterious fire nearly destroyed it, the Phantom finds himself unexpectedly resurrected - in the form of a young boy hired by the manager’s daughter to play pranks on the cast, crew, and audience. After all, the return of the infamous “Opera Ghost” can only be good for ticket sales, and Mireille Dubienne is determined to see her father’s investment become profitable. Plain, shrewd, and proud, Mireille pours the rage of her disappointed hopes and looming spinsterhood into helping her father manage the Opera de Paris and making it a success. What she doesn’t count on is the real “Opera Ghost” deciding he no longer wishes to be an understudy in his own domain, the theater that Mireille believes is hers. The Phantom and Mireille push each other to the limits of their cunning to control and manipulate each other, with no game too low to play. With each passing day, the stakes get higher, until surrender is no longer an option for the Phantom or Mireille. Every trick and betrayal drives them toward a startling truth that will change more than one life forever: you can’t love what you hate…but you can desire it.

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