I have been reading for more years than I care to acknowledge and have never encountered a book that impacted me as much as 'Midnight Angel' by Lisa Marie Rice (Ellora's Cave Publishing).
Forgive me if I wax poetic, but this is, indeed, the perfect book. Words and phrases are honed to perfection, description and dialogue in perfect balance and harmony. The sex is graphic but without dark undertones. The suspense is intense but not over the top. The dialogue is believable, unstilted and without misstep.
Douglas Kowalski is a retired Navy SEAL working in his ex-commander John Huntington's private security company. He is a large man who bears the scars of war and life. He describes himself as 'ugly': a large raised scar on his face, a many-times broken nose, pock-marked skin and small eyes. At an exhibit of rare Russian jewels coordinated by Huntington's wife, Douglas is inexorably drawn to the woman providing the musical background for the evening. She is Irish beauty Allegra Ennis, harpist, vocalist and friend of Suzanne Huntington.
Douglas is well aware of how people look away from him and avoid eye contact because of his looks, but feels it on a deeper level when it appears that Allegra is doing the same when they are introduced. However, it is not long before he realizes she is blind and immediately appoints himself as her protector, getting her champagne and guiding her back up on stage when her break is over. What follows next grabs you by the throat and this book is off and running.
Other reviewers have likened this story to Beauty and the Beast but I take exception. Douglas is NOT a beast...he is a complex, complicated human being who hides a love of music (especially opera) under his rough exterior.Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Sexy Ugly ManFeb. 15 2007
Amazon thy name is credit card debt
- Published on Amazon.com
Now, don't think I'm being tacky: Douglas considers himself ugly and I'll let you, dear reader, decide from the description of his features if he is ugly or not. Personally, I believe beauty is only skin deep and six-pack abs cover a multitude of sins :) Following "Midnight Man" and "Midnight Run," this book builds on Ms. Rice's tough guy lovers and the lucky, lucky gals who bag 'em and tag 'em.
Douglas and Allegra set the sheets on fire, but there is a lot of depth to this relationship too. You just KNEW, when in one of the previous books Doug's voice was described as this beautiful bass that shocked those who heard it, he would wind up with the harpist/vocalist Allegra, who's friends with the first two ladies who got their guys. Douglas and Allegra are, so far, my favorite of these couples. I think because they share this love of music that's quite spiritual and they know what it feels like to be different. She's not always been blind, so she's still learning how to adapt to this challenge. Doug, in his unique SEAL-speak, helps her learn her surroundings. Comes in handy later in the book, but that's all the hint you'll get from me.
Another tough-guy is introduced in this book to guard Allegra when Douglas is elsewhere. Douglas comes into the house and finds this guy looking dazed and he thinks "Oh boy, he's been bored out of his skull by her music." Turns out this tattoo-bearing ruffian has been charmed by music that he never would have chosen on his own. I hope he gets his own story. "Midnight Massage/Tattoo Parlor" might not sound as lyrical as the previous three stories, so I'll leave it to the capable Ms. Rice to come up with the title as well as the story this man deserves.
I'm sure I join her other fans in saying: you keep writing and we'll keep reading.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.5 stars. Blind woman and ugly man fall in love. A psycho is scaring her and plans to kill her.March 22 2009
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STORY BRIEF: Allegra is a singer who reminds me of Enya. Her manager Corey is giving her bad advice. When Allegra breaks her contract with Corey, Corey kills her father and beats Allegra causing her blindness and amnesia. Corey is in a psychiatric prison. Corey arranges for someone to stalk, scare and try to kill Allegra.
Doug is a former Navy SEAL, naturally ugly plus scarred and disfigured by war. He is enchanted when he first hears Allegra sing. He loves music, and they have that in common. They meet and fall in love. He loves taking care of her needs due to blindness.
REVIEWER'S OPINION: This is the third book in the Midnight series. It was nice. I liked it, but I liked the first book (Midnight Man) the best. Midnight Angel can be read as a stand alone, but if you're thinking of reading all three, then they should be read in order. The male and female characters are similar in all of her books: strong, protective, needs-a-lot-of-sex alpha warrior with beautiful, delicate, talented, compassionate, good-person heroine. I loved the ending in Midnight Man. The ending in this book regarding the bad guy had a similarity but I was less comfortable with it. I don't want to give anything away so I won't say more. I loved the opening scene and events with the armed thieves. I enjoyed the way Doug guided Allegra around obstacles as they walked. I also enjoyed the way Doug taught Allegra military techniques for describing locations, for example Charlie Green 2 o'clock.
DATA: Story length: 272 pages. Swearing language: strong. Sexual language: strong but nothing kinky. Number of sex scenes: 5. Total number of sex scene pages: 44. Setting: Portland, Oregon. Copyright: 2005. Genre: erotic romantic suspense.
OTHER BOOKS: For a list of my reviews of other Lisa Marie Rice books, see my 4.5 star review of "Midnight Man" posted 3/17/09.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Beauty and the Beast....Sept. 24 2008
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Big, tough and ugly Douglas Kowalski never believed a beautiful angel like Allegra Ennis would give him the time of day. People can barely stand to look him in the eye, much less shake his hand but when Allegra Ennis hears his deep, rumbling voice she's enchanted. His voice is a wonderful, soothing instrument and she doesn't notice his hideous facial scars because she's blind. Several months ago she lost both her father and her sight during a vicious attack and just being near Douglas calms her inner fears and uncertainties. Forced to make her way through a dark and frightening world, Douglas' strength and guidance helps her to overcome her new handicap. He plays with her, loves her and most important of all, helps her to live life again. Douglas has never known a woman like Allegra and never has he cared to before. She has a voice that rivals the angels and a temper that shames the devil. Being with Douglas is one of the happiest moments of Allegra's life, but when she thinks she hears the voice of the man who brutally attacked her, her newfound peace is shattered and she begins to fear for her sanity. The man who attacked her is in a psychiatric prison and can't get to her or so everyone keeps telling her. Even though Douglas checks it out and comes back with reassurances that her attacker is still under guard, she feels him and hears him when no one is around. Certain that she's finally lost it, Allegra tries to send him away but Douglas has finally discovered the type of love that can bring a man to his knees so he's not going anywhere. Instead, he provides round the clock protection and endeavors to keep all her demons at bay, promising to always be there for her.
Allegra and Douglas were very cute together. He's a hulking bruiser and she's a beautiful angel. Her handicap makes her vulnerable but Allegra isn't one to stand meekly by. True, her new blindness makes her uncomfortable and uncertain but once Douglas made her feel safe and secure again she opens up and is much more lively and stubborn. She's the most stubborn of the three Midnight ladies and has no problems with telling her big, tough SEAL exactly what to do. To hear her tell him "no" was priceless. Practically all of Douglas' life has been devoted to the military with it's carefully regimented hierarchy so when Allegra tells him "no" or flat out ignores his well thought out and practical advice, he's flabbergasted and ill prepared. While she's definitely not his equal in regards to muscle mass, her Irish temper is more than enough to deal with his autocratic streak and it's fun to watch the sparks fly.
The sex in Midnight Angel was sensuous and loving, but not very exciting nor very inventive but it's okay. Love is more than just inventive sex, sometimes all a woman needs is a lover who can just go on and on and on..... Poor Douglas has so much stamina that he wears Allegra out and is literally left high and dry. He's constantly walking around in a semi permanent state of arousal that I'm sure can't be healthy.
The plot involving Allegra's manager and his murderous puppet was interesting. His method of revenge was actually pretty inventive but I wish he wasn't so behind the scenes. His puppet was kind of one dimensional and his motivation for attempting to kill Allegra was silly, but again, who cares. I read this book for Douglas and Allegra's blossoming love affair and also to catch glimpses of Suzanne, John and Claire and Bud. I've always enjoyed reading about past couples' happily ever afters and Lisa Marie Rice delivers with little anecdotes from all our favorite couples. This was a good book filled with love and laughter plus awww inspiring tenderness and I for one loved it and hope for more in this loving, sensual series. Enjoy!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
All Tell And No ShowFeb. 7 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I want recap the story line bcuz it has been done in other post very well, I will state what I liked and disliked.
The Bad - It took 282 pages to describe a romance that happened in 4 to 5 days. I believ in love at first sight but geez they were thinking about marriage on the 3rd day, And what is this thing with condoms in LMR Seal books. I'm a Seal , I'm clean no need for a condom or I'm on the pill so I'm ok we don't need to practice safe sex. Why not build up to the moment over time to the point when the H/h make the decision to have unprotected sex. IMO that would be more erotic. LMR has a habit of telling you her Seals are dangerous and a lack of showing you how dangerous they are. Give me a break you have the biggest bad ass Seal in the bunch let his girlfriend take out the stalker with a lamp, the girlfriend is blind and all the Seal does is call out coordinants to alert her of the stalkers position. Where was the hand to hand combat since he was over come w/h panic and left his gun in his truck while rushing to the aid of his girlfriend, this guy was suppose to ba a martial arts expert. Oh wait I forgot he gave her one of those life alert necklaces to call him when she is in trouble...how clever. There was an earlier scene in the book involving gun play that was too tame..2 knives thrown guy went down, our hero rolls across floor grabs gun come up shooting guys go down. A Swat team was called in to help they arrive take out the bad guys but you don't experience them doing it you are told the look outs were taken care of...ok.
The Good - I loved the chemistry between the H/h, I liked everything about them. The beauty and the beast theme was done very well.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Another winning entry in the Midnight seriesFeb. 23 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
I'm a huge fan of Lisa Marie Rice and was looking forward to her last entry in the Midnight Series. She didn't disappoint me; this is as sweetly romantic and suspenseful as the other books, Midnight Man (Midnight Series, Book 1) and Midnight Run (Midnight Series, Book 2).
No, the author hasn't veered too far from her formula: big burly ex-military alpha male meets up with drop dead gorgeous female in distress. No new territory, but she's managed to distinguish the first two books with their own charm, and she does the same here.
Former SEAL Douglas has a heart of gold; unfortunately for him, he's battle scarred, too big, prone to flushing and sweating like the proverbial pig. He has the lowest self-esteem I've seen yet in this author's work. By contrast, Allegra is delicately beautiful in a sort of stereotypical Irish way. Blessed with porcelain skin, vibrant red hair and gorgeous green eyes, she plays the harp and sings like an angel; for Allegra, however, she's crippled by her blindness, the result of a vicious argument with her record producer.
Of course, the first time Douglas sees Allegra (she's playing her harp at the event that was near the end of Midnight Run), he falls head over heels for her. As for Allegra, she finds his presence comforting at first, then in a moment, blatantly sexual. Since she can't see him, Douglas is finally able to be with the kind of woman he's always admired from afar.
The suspense part of the story is pretty predictable, given the number of pages devoted to Allegra's former producer. The real meat here is in the hot, steamy sexual and loving relationship between the hero and heroine. The sex scenes would probably garner it an R rating if this was a movie. There's lots of sex and while not as graphic as a Lora Leigh, it's still pretty descriptive.
The one teeny tiny itsy bitsy (can you tell it was small) gripe I had with this book was how Douglas continually beat himself up because of the way he looks. He'd flash hot and cold, knowing Allegra loved him for whom he was, but at times, paralyzed because he couldn't get over how ugly he was compared to Allegra's delicate beauty.