My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
3.5 stars... another good one from Scottie Barrett. I liked it quite a bit. ;)
Angel's Guardian had one of my favorite tropes; romance between a guardian and his ward. I don't mind at all, especially if the guardian is as hot as Major Nicholas Draxford. :D
When the story opened, it took me a while getting into it. There were quite a few characters and a lot going on altogether. It seemed Angeline, or Angel, our h just arrived in her guardian's estate on occasion of his long awaited arrival. The house was full of guests and she didn't wanna be there but she had to. Only she wished she could stop thinking about Nicholas Draxford, the handsome soldier who had stolen her heart even at that tender age when she'd last seen him.
One Mr. Stanbury, drunk as a skunk, pours bucketload on her daydreams, trying to grab her when she was returning from a walk from a rainy afternoon. Angeline though, as sassy as she was, puts him in his place but putting a foot down, literally, on his foot. ;) His proprietary behavior didn't sit well with me but apparently, he's all but set to offer for her, a fact Angel despised. But in her mind, her guardian has abandoned her to the mercy of these people. After all, it's been 9 long years since she'd seen him. Now she must marry and get herself off his hand...or so the Stanburys and the people he'd hired to look after her has told her. Angel would rather remain single forever than marry Hugh Stanbury, but who is listening to her? It seemed like no one. :/
Angeline was soon to have the surprise of her life! Trying to hide from Stanbury paws, she runs to an abandoned cottage somewhere in the estate. Upon arrival, to forget Stanbury, Angel felt like...um, take off the edge by, um........ well, she was doing what she did when she thought of Nicholas too much. :P Only she didn't know he was waiting in the dark, not specifically for her but he was pleased nonetheless to find a beautiful young woman not only pleasuring herself, but calling out his name too. He was watching.
Ooh who is that?! Nicholas raked his brain but couldn't remember meeting this alluring creature before. Flaxen hair, pale skin, curvy body among many of her charms. He just took shelter in here from the pouring rain, but this seemingly boring incident was turning out to be quite a pleasant surprise! When he comes out of the dark and introduces himself....... the girl squeaks and...... well, she was embarrassed. :|
Okay, Angel was embarrassed to have been caught by Nicholas but felt not an ounce of guilt. After all, he's the one who had dominated all of her feverish dreams. Now Nicholas has returned, taller than ever, bigger than over. He has gotten even more handsome and Angel can't even breathe. The only thing that brings her down to the earth was the fact that he hasn't seem to recognize her. At all. >.< What a bummer!!
When they finally return home, things start happening. Nicholas finds that abandoning Angel has wrought some incidents he would've liked to avoid. One was, finding his somewhat friend Hugh Stanbury as the prospective husband for Angel. More than eager actually. Nicholas knew Hugh for what he was-- a completely debauched rake, now a drunkard to boots. You can only imagine the husband he'd make Angel since he'd never be satisfied with one woman. But what surprises Nicholas the most was the fact that it wasn't the dowry he set for Angel, Hugh seems genuinely interested her! And that was one occurrence Nicholas would like to avoid at all cost. All he knew that any man, who is a man, would want his ward in their bed. Him included.
Soon Nicholas realized that not only Stanbury has made himself the future groom, he'd also, it seemed, taken over her grooming (no pun intended). His own cousin, a prim and proper creature (hence complete opposite of Hugh), Miss Stanbury, is now training Angel to be a proper lady for her to be launched in the society. She herself is hoping to marry Nicholas (they were once engaged if I remember correctly) upon his return, a fact that Angel couldn't stomach. At first, Nicholas gives them free reign, well at least to Miss Stanbury which soon proves to be a disaster. Angel hated the lessons but she was told this is what Nicholas wanted, so she'd go along. He'd call her "brat" and try everything to put a distant between them. She'd be hurt, then hurt him back in return. Nicholas wanted her bad and knew it was wrong, even when her marrying another guy didn't sit well with him. Angel just wanted him but had no idea how to fit this inside his thick skull. They weren't related by blood as far as I remember. There was nothing that should stop them, but he was determined to keep distance because...... well, the fact remained. He was her guardian.
So it went, melodrama one after another, from both, on and off. At times it seemed like 2 children bickering, then stomping off in anger. Nicholas could now see abandoning her for so long has been a mistake. It wasn't even the fact that she was a bit of a tomboy and liked roaming the estate on her own, sometimes not even caring for her own safety. That she had no training in ladylike behavior. Those were the things Nicholas actually liked despite everything. He didn't care one whit about the scandal marring her reputation, which was not even her fault but her late promiscuous mother's. But she needed to snag a husband, preferably one way better than Hugh, if this insane attraction was to cease. It didn't help at all knowing that the attraction wasn't one sided. Angel liked teasing Nicholas, telling him the craziest of things that a virgin shouldn't know. Things that'd set his imagination on fire. But it wasn't right! He was her guardian!! They shouldn't be thinking about those things.
Pah, if only...!
I was a bit exasperated because I wanted them to be together ASAP but there was always something that came up and put a barrier. There were teasing here and there, of them together... of Nicholas giving Angel a taste of how he was, what he liked despite all that he warned himself against. But for all that hot fondling, there wasn't enough sex scenes between them. :( And that disappointed me a lot.
I found Nicholas extremely hot. A bit hot-tempered, crazy about Angel. He never thought of another woman after seeing her. It felt to me that he saw the potential but cleared his head off that notion because she was so young. Which she wasn't any longer.... Nicholas was also extremely possessive, quite jealous and super protective of Angel. It took him some times to come to terms with his wants and desires but when he did, there was no stopping him. As for Angel, there was only one man. And I loved it! It was just the chemistry between them that you know these two must be together. She could be childish at times, quite impulsive but those were understandable. I liked her too.
There were some secondary characters I liked, who were introduced throughout the story. One has to be Hugh's younger brother, a war veteran, Benjamin. Poor guy had a really bad injury that made a mess out of half of his face. :( He was in love with a girl named Olivia and was engaged to be married but she promptly put a distance between them after seeing him with his injury. It totally broke my heart as the poor guy was quite heartbroken and yearning. His own brother, the callous POS, was no help and would always make derogatory remarks about him, calling Benjamin weak etc. Now, Benjamin and Olivia had a weird thing going on. She still loved him but I think it was really difficult for her to come to terms with what has happened to him. I could see why this would be a shocker for her. Benjamin was quite the good-looking guy before going off to war and now............ *sigh* But worry not, there is HEA for them too.
The last bit of surprise came from Hugh himself and the person he finally decides to elope with. Can you guess? :P Well, I will not reveal it but it wasn't Angel for sure. By then he knew not to compete with Nicholas for her hand. LOL I only wish those two had a book so I knew how things are going between them. I'm certain it would've been entertaining. ;)
HEA comes too late for our own Angel and Nicholas... they were still unsure of each-other's regards until they finally marry. Those two were nuts, seriously! I'm sure their relationship will always be that way. Never boring. They'd bicker, then made up with hot sex. Heeh. I only wish there were more sex scenes, just to give us a taste of the promises Nicholas made to Angeline. The things he imagined of doing to her. *sigh* Not enough, not enough!