ANGELS AND MINISTERS OF GRACE
Michelle O'Leary


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DLSIJ Press, Oct 2003
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Science Fiction Romance

Anya Vaedrin and her backup band are in full flight. They have been turned away by every planetary and space base they have tried, because they are being chased by a psychopathic assassin of the Telepath Guild, and no one wants to get involved. Anya is a tel-empath, meaning she doesn’t just read other people’s feelings, she can impress emotions on them. The Guild is determined that anyone with an ability as strong as Anya’s will either be under their control or dead.

Far Reach Station is Anya’s last resort. On the outer rim of human space, its commanding officers welcome alien residents as much as they do humans. In fact, Captain Marta Jamison greets Anya and her friends with suspicious eagerness. She and her second in command, Jason Salvatore, go to immense lengths to protect them. In spite of his dedication, however, the sizzlingly attractive Lt. Commander Salvatore seems anything but welcoming.

The Guild assassin is only the beginning of Anya’s challenges on Far Reach. Two different alien species are taking an unnerving interest in her. The Hive Queen of the Shrieks – so known for the normal human reaction to them – summons her for an audience, and the Dreamers of the mesmerizingly beautiful Thlassnians make cryptic pronouncements about her. Meanwhile Captain Jamison secretly readies her plans to take advantage of the lucky windfall of Anya’s arrival. Jason Salvatore grows haggard trying to avoid her.

Anya Vaedrin is another captivating heroine by author Michelle O’Leary. Nicknamed Earth Angel by her millions of fans, Anya is as nice as she is beautiful, with a sense of concern for others that more than makes up for the occasional snapped temper. Where Anya goes, fans follow, and no doubt readers would feel the same if they lived in this story. A sense of camaraderie with her fellow performers brings the spice of fun with it. The simmering passion between Anya and Jason will raise the temperature of your room.

One of the hallmarks of romance stories is that a lot of the plot is made possible by the characters hiding pointless secrets from each other. If Anya had been told what Far Reach was planning to do and how, it would have kept her from taking dangerous preemptive action on her own. The leaders of the plan surely knew her well enough to predict she would act independently. I found this part of the story the least believable.

Previously I reviewed Michelle O’Leary’s delightful debut novel THE HUNTRESS, also a sci fi romance. This is a gifted new writer who only needed to add a touch of restraint, and she has done this successfully in ANGELS AND MINISTERS OF GRACE. Her descriptions of the disconcertingly beautiful Thlassnians show exactly the right combination of appreciation and discomfort. She has also injected a message to give a little substance to ANGELS: Captain Jamison’s crusade has to do with tolerance toward those who are different from ourselves. ANGELS AND MINISTERS OF GRACE is an improvement by an author who already has more than her fair share of native talent. I will be on the watch to see what her Muse brings her next.

Michelle O’Leary’s website is at http://www.michelleoleary.com .

Oct 2003 Review

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