Alby Boyle is down on his luck. He’s returned to New York City to try and find the family he was forced to leave behind has a boy. But it’s winter, he’s out of a job, and the city is bringing back a lot of hard memories. During a low moment, Alby finds himself stopping outside a department store’s Christmas window that contains a beautiful angel, one that fortifies Alby during the days that follow. But at the same time, he meets Xeno Varnham-Summerfield, the son of the department store owner. Xeno is vibrant, charming, and wealthy. He seems to have everything that Alby does not, yet he cares for the down and out cowboy, despite the fact they are little more than strangers.
After meeting several times by accident, Alby and Xeno seem tied to together, but neither of them believe they have any chance at a future. Cowboys and wealthy men can’t have much in common and yet as difficult as things have been for Alby, for now he has Xeno and the angel and both offer him a strength he didn’t have before. Fate has brought them together, but Xeno and Alby will have to fight to keep what they have built.
I was wonderfully surprised by Summerfield’s Angel. It’s the second book in the Christmas Angel collection, and while each book is a stand alone, they are tied together by an angel theme. I don’t usually read books that are connected, even loosely, to a religious theme, because as an atheist those themes don’t resonate with me. But something about the blurb spoke to me and I’m glad it did. Alby is the standout here in terms of development. His loneliness and isolation are palpable and heartbreaking. He’s been to hell and back, but he hasn’t given up and he’s willing to see the goodness around him, even when it comes from the unlikeliest places. Xeno is an irrepressible light in the darkness. He’s sweet and loving and utterly engaging. Despite being seeming opposites, Xeno and Alby have a connection that feels genuine.
The angel theme runs throughout Summerfield’s Angel, but it never overpowers the connection between Xeno and Alby. There’s enough warmth to appeal to nearly every reader, without alienating those of us who don’t necessarily prescribe to the religious aspects of the holiday. The story is exceptionally well rounded and even though it was a shorter novel, I felt there was a believable and gratifying resolution. There’s plenty of history here as well and while I felt there were occasionally a bit too many references, it’s generally handled smoothly.
Summerfield’s Angel was enjoyable on nearly every level and its main characters are the heart and soul of what makes this story work. The holiday aspect is warm in all the right ways and I think it’s going to appeal to nearly every reader. Definitely consider this one recommended.