In this second installment of the Mercy Hollings series, the subject matter starts becoming very serious. Mercy dealt with drugs and drug dealers in her first adventure, but not the real the people affected by the dealers, more directly with the bad guys themselves. In Angel of Mercy, she learns by accident that one of her hypnotherapy clients is being abused, and this leads our heroine to Rosalee Jackson, the director for a battered women’s shelter. Rose eventually asks Mercy to volunteer free therapy sessions at the shelter, and Mercy first sees this as a great opportunity to help people.
Things begin to get out of hand, though, when Mercy starts dabbling with a very damaged mother and daughter. The daughter’s terrible secret leads Mercy down a road she might be better off staying away from, and the consequences of Mercy’s use of her mysterious psychic power, the press, are life changing. While dealing with all her emotions about the women she meets at the shelter, Mercy must also deal with her friend’s investigation into Mercy’s biological origins, and her deteriorating relationship with Sam Falls.
The subject material that Andrews chooses to write about is an area that most paranormal romance writers would never dare venture, but Andrews manages it with style and tact. The idea of someone using her superpowers to help battered and abused women and children is unique and interesting, as well as captivating. Mercy comes from the foster care system herself, and can relate to some of the feelings and doubts these women have. Again, the romantic relationship is not the focus of the book. Rather, the personal relationships of all the characters are looked at and discussed, and friendships are just as, if not more important than Mercy’s main squeeze.
Another point in her favor is the absolute fallibility of her characters. They make mistakes, sometimes big ones, just like normal people. But they also continue to learn from them. Mercy has been denying, hiding, or randomly using her strange mind control talent her whole life, and even though it sounds like a great ability, it is rarely the perfect solution to all her problems. The choices she makes regarding “the press” aren’t always the best ones, and I liked that the other characters, especially Rose, don’t give her a pass just because she’s “special” or the main character. Rose genuinely becomes angry with Mercy, and it takes work and time to earn her forgiveness, something Mercy acknowledges and is contrite about.
The focus of this book leaned more towards female relationships and building the confidence of Mercy’s friends and herself, something I feel is very worthwhile and not often seen in romance. They’re learning self-worth through their own abilities and strengths, rather than being paired up with a romantic partner who supposedly saves and/or completes them. Those who do end up in relationships do so with open eyes and a clear head, and they talk about the up and down sides of their relationships or past experiences in a candid and believable manner. My favorite addition to this book is definitely Rose Jackson, though.
Rosalee is a strong black woman in charge of her own life, as well as committed to helping those in tough situations or those trying to break cycles of abuse and violence. She’s smart and stands up for herself, and she’s not afraid to tell Mercy or anyone else when they’re wrong. She can do forgiveness, too, something that comes into play quite a few times during the story. Rose also has a chance to let down her hair a little and be found attractive, but it’s done in a way that is respectful and amusing, rather than objectifying. The gentleman that finds interest in her likes her as much, or more, for her mind than her looks. They also don’t immediately fall in love, a device I’ve seen all too often in romance of any kind. I love the inclusion of a black woman in the story, and I truly hope we see more of Rose.
The other characters didn’t get as much face time this book, which I found a little disappointing. I hope as Andrews continues to write about Mercy, she gets the pages she needs to develop her stories more. An additional hundred pages or so wouldn’t have felt too long with this book. I can definitely see the improvement from Beg for Mercy, and I can’t wait to read Cry for Mercy, Toni Andrew’s newest release in the series. Stay tuned for that review tomorrow, and an interview with the author herself.