Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: An Unexpected Angel by Janet K. Halling

Sometimes finding peace means finding a difference perspective.

Ella Davies, is focused, independent, and driven. Her hard work is finally paying off and she is on the brink of great success. But what no one knows is that her frantic drive is born not from a desire to succeed, but from a need to forget – forget her past, forget her guilt, and mostly, forget the tragedy that changed her life forever.

Ella’s strategy seems to be working but on Christmas Eve she meets Cohen, a strange man with an even stranger purpose. Cohen catapults Ella back through time and forces her to confront not only her own pain, but the pain of those long since passed. In the process, Ella learns about courage and compassion and that in the darkest hour, no one is ever alone.

Oh, this is a must read Christmas season (or any season) read.  I'm so grateful to be a part of this blog tour for An Unexpected Angel.  It was the perfect read for this month and I loved it.

Ella is one bitter girl.  I can honestly say that in the beginning I didn't like her very much at all.  She is mean and puts everyone off.  Of course, as is usually the case, the more I understood Ella and her history, the more my dislike changed to empathy and compassion.  Even though I don't think people are entitled to be mean and rude to people because life has been hard, I was able to see how Ella reached the place she was at.  It is a journey of change for Ella as she allows her heart to thaw and she reaches out to others who teach her about courage and love.

Of course this story brings to mind a bit of the Scrooge tale, but honestly it brings more to the table than that.  There were real emotions and real events in history.  It was a touching read that will help you remember the things that are most important.  It will give you hope and perhaps change your ideas about angels.

This is a short book that won't take you too much time to read.  I hope you can find time this month to read this book and then share it.  It's a perfect gift for family and friends.

Enjoy this excerpt from An Unexpected Angel!

Somewhere there was a rhythmic humming—a kind of a swooshing sound that increased and decreased in volume at regular intervals. She couldn’t remember where she was. Her whole body ached, and her head felt as if it would explode.
                Ella groaned and opened her eyes. She was still in the gym, lying crumpled against the weight machine. The treadmill had stopped, and the rhythmic sound was coming from the man riding the spinning bike, which sat nearby.
                Her fingers trembled as she felt the goose egg on the side of her head. Her face was on fire, probably scraped on the belt, and her knees were bloody, also from the belt.
                Suddenly she stiffened. There was a man riding the bike! A man riding the bike. While she had been lying there unconscious. Had he just sauntered in and climbed on without seeing her at all or had he viewed her inert form without concern? That was cold, even for New York City. Gingerly, she turned her head to look at him.
                It was the clerk from the deli, and he didn’t stop pedaling as he glanced her way. “Oh good, you’re awake.”
                She stared up at him in mute astonishment.
                He reached for his water bottle and took a long drink. “I’m glad you woke up on your own,” he said pleasantly. “I was about ready to pour this in your face, so you can thank me for sparing you an unexpected shower.”
                Ella grasped the weight machine and pulled herself slowly to a sitting position. Her head was throbbing, and her stomach lurched. “I could sue you for failing to come to the aid of an injured person,” she snapped rather feebly.
                The man studied her contemplatively. “Hmmm, yes, you would think of that, wouldn’t you? But I’m not too worried, Ella. You’re not going to sue me and we both know it.”
                She opened her mouth to snarl a retort but stopped abruptly. “How do you know my name?” she demanded. “And what are you even doing here? You don’t live in this building.” She hesitated, realizing she wasn’t sure. “Do you?”
                He jumped off the bike and held out his hand. “You should get up. Want help?”
                She shrank away from him. “Don’t touch me! Who are you, and how do you know my name?”
                “Well, it’s simple really. My name is Cohen, and I’m your guardian angel.” He broke into a brief but rapid tap dance routine and finished with flair. And with jazz hands.       
                Ella stared at him in perplexed silence, unsure if he was a hallucination or just crazy. “Uh-huh. Right,” she finally said, groaning as she pulled herself to her feet. A wave of nausea hit her, and she stopped, doubling over and willing herself not to vomit. She for sure had a concussion.
She tried to think. Should she go to the hospital? Or maybe just go home and try to sleep? She didn’t know. She made a move toward the door, but Cohen tap-danced over to block her path.
                “Get out of my way,” she snapped at him with more bravado than she felt.
                He grinned. “Can’t do that. You and me, we have business tonight.”
                For the first time, she felt a small dart of fear. Cohen wasn’t exactly menacing, but he certainly was strange. If he attacked her, would she have the strength to fight him? If only her head would stop hurting!
                “What do you want?” she asked.
                “I already told you, I’m your guardian angel. Well, not technically an angel, but that word will serve as well as any other. Anyway, I’m here to help.”
                “Sure. Like you helped me when I was unconscious a minute ago? If that’s your kind of help, no thanks.”
                “No, not that kind of help, silly.”
                “Look, whatever you’re on, whatever you’re offering, I’m not interested. Just leave me alone, please? I’m sore and tired, and my head is killing me. I need to go lie down.”
                “Oh, right. That.” He made some sort of vague gesture and instantly her nausea subsided and the pain in her head vanished.
                Chills raced up and down her spine, and she stared at him, “Wait . . . what’s . . . what’s going on?”
                “Okay, no more joking around.” Cohen looked suddenly serious. “Here’s the deal. You need help and there’s a lot you need to learn. Only you’re far too stubborn to admit it. You might not even know how much help you need. But I know; so here I am.”
                The pieces were starting to fall into place. “Wait . . . Christmas Eve . . . guardian angel. This is some kind of a joke, right?” she said before adding sarcastically, “What’s the matter, Jacob Marley was busy? Clarence already got his wings? Or wasn’t he on duty tonight?”
                He grinned. “Both good men. But you got stuck with me. Although, all things considered, maybe it’s me who got stuck with you. You can be quite unpleasant, do you know that?”
                Ella snorted derisively. “So when does the Ghost of Christmas Past show up? Or is he waiting for me upstairs?”
                “Dickens took some liberties. It doesn’t exactly work like that. At least, this time it won’t.”
                 “You have exactly one second to get out of my way or I’m going to start screaming at the top of my lungs!”
                Cohen cocked his head to one side and gave her a brief shrug of resignation. “Okay then, you win. Can’t say I didn’t try.” He stepped smoothly to one side and swept his arm in a wide arc toward the door. “Be my guest.”
                Throwing him what she hoped was a withering glare, Ella marched past him, flung open the door—and stepped into a nightmare.

Janet Halling discovered her love of writing at the age of six when her story of a lonely duck won a first grade writing contest. She has a degree in Marketing Communications and lives with her family in northern Utah. She is currently working on her next novel.

TV interview (Recorded 11/27/12 for Good Things Utah ABC4)


  1. Thanks for the review. I know someone who loves those kind of Christmas-y reads and I hadn't heard of this book, so this might be a good gift to give her :) I also like that the main girl seems to be independent and strong!

    Thanks again

  2. Loved the excerpt! And the title of the book is beautiful. Adding it to my TBR.

  3. Great review. This book sounds great.

  4. This book sounds really interesting. I'd love to read this. Thanks for the review. It's a great review :)

  5. sounds a great book, thanks for the review

  6. I really enjoy books that makes you change your opinion about the protagonist halfway. Would really like to read this! :)


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