Felix is overworked, conscientious, and a really decent guy. His job as a nursing home orderly suits him because he cares deeply about his patients. But it is hardly glamorous and neither is the tiny London flat he shares with his disabled (but refreshingly snarky) brother Patrick. Though he is well-liked, he sees himself as too boring to be attractive. Therefore, when he gets his arse pinched by a male hand while riding the late-night bus home from work, he is shocked – especially when he realizes no one is sitting close enough in the nearly empty bus to have touched him.
Imagine Felix’s surprise when his admirer turns out to be a disembodied gay male ghost named Bryn who overwhelms Felix with a flood of Welsh-accented conversation. Felix is the first person who has sensed Bryn in years, and Bryn is unwilling to lose his new friend despite Felix’s efforts to take a tone of firm dismissal with him. In the weeks that follow, Bryn becomes a semi-permanent occupant of Felix’s head as he gleefully begins to sort out Felix’s life, complete with lusty and blunt commentary.
First, according to Bryn, Felix overprotects his brother. Second, Felix is too insecure to accept the sincere interest of new boyfriend Mickey whom Felix has admired from afar since their schooldays when Mickey was captain of the football team. Instead, Felix holds Mickey at a distance as if waiting to get dumped. Well, what better way for Felix to solve his own problems than to look beyond them and try to help someone else? Driven by Bryn’s enthusiastic meddling, Felix tries to repair a family rift between a cranky codger at the nursing home whose harsh religious beliefs have driven away his granddaughter who hides a guilty secret. But first Felix must find the granddaughter who has joined countless other homeless young people who live in “squats” or unclaimed residences abandoned throughout London as a consequence of the failing economy.
No Angel showcases how good this author is with dialog. I can literally hear the accents as I read. It also features a lot of plot in its comparatively short length, and forces Felix to evolve in his relationships with the two most important men in his life. It is a treat to see Felix start to lean on Patrick (who has unexpected social contacts among the homeless community and can act as Felix’s guide) and to appreciate Mickey who lends a strong, protective presence. Of course locating the missing granddaughter would not be possible without Bryn’s help and encouragement. Eventually Bryn’s mysterious backstory is revealed in just enough detail to touch the reader’s heart but not be a distraction. Though this lively novella deals with serious subjects, it has a sense of fun. Felix and Patrick interact like real brothers with mingled exasperation and fondness. Love interest Mickey doesn’t get a viewpoint, but the story manages with skill and subtlety to reveal through Mickey’s actions how much he cares for Felix even when Felix is too blinded by insecurity to recognize what the reader can see. Ultimately this is an emotionally satisfying story of a good man learning to let love come into his life.
Type of Romance: LGBT (Gay) Romance
Title: No Angel
Author: Clare London
Publisher: Amber Quill Press imprint Amber Allure
Subgenre: Contemporary Romance with a supernatural element
Setting: London, UK
Sex scenes: mild to medium
Length: extended novella at 39,000 words
Viewpoint: one third person viewpoint (Felix)
Note: A free review copy of this novel was provided to me by the author in exchange for a honest review. I received no compensation for this review from author or publisher. Look on Amazon.com for No Angel