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Angel Falls, March 2013
by Connie Mann

Abingdon Press
320 pages
ISBN: 1426756860
EAN: 9781426756863
Kindle: B00BFGOONM
Paperback / e-Book
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"A perfect blend of fast-paced thriller, inspiration and romance."

Fresh Fiction Review

Angel Falls
Connie Mann

Reviewed by Viki Ferrell
Posted February 14, 2013

Thriller

Regina da Silva is Co-Director of the House of Angels' Orphanage in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The other Co-Director, Irene, is leaving for Orlando, Florida, to start a new life with her three-month-old baby, Eduardo. When they stop so Regina can run into the market with Eduardo to get him some juice, an explosion occurs outside. Irene's car burns in the parking lot with Irene in it. Regina promised Irene she would care for Eduardo if anything ever happened to Irene. She never thought she'd have to make good on that promise.

A few days after Irene's funeral, Brooks Anderson arrives at the orphanage. Sent by his mother, Co-Founder of the orphanage with her husband, Brooks is here to take Eduardo back to Orlando for adoption. Regina is reluctant to let Eduardo go without her. Before they can get out of the house, someone fires a shot outside and kills the orphanage guard. This sends Regina into action, getting the children out of the house to a safe place and getting herself, the baby and Brooks out too.

Regina and Brooks have a strong battle of wills as they journey across Brazil trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuer. It would help to know who this pursuer is and why he is after them. Added to their battle of determination to each have things their way is a blossoming physical attraction. Neither one wants to admit they have room in their lives for romance.

Connie Mann's inspirational thriller moves a mile-a- minute through the jungles of Brazil with a frantic car chase. Her characters are well-developed and believable, but you're never quite sure which ones are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys. The suspense builds to a climax at several different points, just to have another event occur that changes the playing field. ANGEL FALLS is about revenge, learning to forgive and having a strong faith in God to see you through the tough times. This book is a real winner, so add it to your reading list.

Learn more about Angel Falls

SUMMARY

When her best friend is killed in an explosion, leaving Regina da Silva with her friend's young child, she doesn't realize that the child was as much as target as her friend. Brooks Anderson has been sent to find the child and bring it to the US. When circumstances bring them together in Brazil, they find themselves being pursued by a killer as they protect an orphaned baby. As the danger heightens around them, so does the attraction between Regina and Brooks, despite their differences. Regina and Brooks have both been broken by their violent pasts, but while Regina relies on her faith to deal with her past, Brooks has turned away from God. Will their pasts stop them from realizing their true feelings for each other when their pursuer strives to keep them apart forever?

Excerpt

Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil, Present Day

Regina da Silva tied the laces on her cracked leather boots and yanked the hand–knitted wool stockings Olga made her last Christmas up past her knees. Outside, an icy wind fought to get in through the wooden shutters guarding House of Angels' orphanage. She straightened the layers of skirts swirling around her ankles, knowing she'd give away all but one before the night ended.

She didn't want to go out tonight, and that made her feel small and selfish. And guilty. So she hefted the wicker basket filled with meat pastries and opened the door—before she changed her mind. On nights like tonight, she didn't know which she hated most—the cold, or the memories.

"You are still going out tonight, Regina?" Irene demanded quietly from behind her, voice heavy with accusation. And disappointment.

"Just this one night, Regina, stay home. We'll talk. Laugh, maybe even shed a few tears. Minha amiga, even Jesus took time off for his friends."

Regina swallowed hard and glanced over her shoulder at the sagging sofa, where Irene sat with her feet curled under her, cuddling her three–month–old son. The pleading tone almost demolished the fence guarding Regina's mouth.

A gust of wind snatched the door from her grasp and slammed it against the wall, the crash a call to arms. "If I don't go, who will?" Regina asked. She didn't add, "since you aren't anymore," but it echoed in the room nonetheless. Regina tried to keep the hurt out of her voice. She still couldn't believe Irene and little Eduardo were moving to the United States in the morning and leaving her behind. She was thrilled for Irene. She was furious, too, and mad at herself for feeling that way. But she couldn't find words for any of it. So she simply pointed to the basket and said, "Olga has the meat pastries ready and Jorge packed extra blankets." Regina pulled on a pair of handmade mittens, carefully pulling together the hole in one thumb.

Irene sent her a piercing sad–eyed look. "You can't save them all, you know."

At the familiar argument, Regina met her gaze, eyes hot, and repeated what she always said in response. "Maybe not. But I can save some."

Irene sighed. "I'll pick you up in the morning, then. Be safe, my friend."

Regina kissed her friend on both cheeks, did the same for Eduardo, and then headed out before she caved in to Irene's pleading. The wind hacked through the slums, and Regina hunched farther into her threadbare coat, determined to ignore everything but the task at hand. Especially the memories.

She shifted her grasp on the heavy basket and kept her eyes fixed on the barrel of burning trash ahead. Automatically avoiding open sewers and billowing newspapers, she followed the dancing flames like a ship to a lighthouse. Odd that both lights warned of danger, yet promised safety.

Regina tightened her scarf and snorted. Here on the streets, safety was an illusion, a wish unfulfilled. How many nights had she and Irene spent just like these street children, huddled around a barrel, protecting their right to be there by clutching a switchblade in a shaking fist? They would probably be dead if not for Noah Anderson, who had done exactly what Regina would do tonight. What she and Irene had done together for years.

But everything had changed. Irene planned to take Eduardo to Florida and leave Regina to run the orphanage alone. Her throat tightened, so she stepped up her pace, shoving self–pity roughly away. She had a job to do tonight. The children were cold and hungry and she could help—at least a little. Keep them safe, God, please.

Regina knew the exact moment the children caught the scent of meat pastry, for suddenly a swarm of children surrounded her, shouting, "Senhorita Anjo, um pastel, um pastel."

Regina smiled warmly, though she still couldn't get used to being called Miss Angel, even after four years as co–director of House of Angels.

The crowd surged, pressing close, but Regina's willowy height worked to her advantage. "Hello, children. Fernando, Stephan, back up and let the little ones closer." Regina gently pulled the smaller children toward her, trying not to think about just how young they really were. Could Christiane be more than five? Already her beautiful brown eyes held dull acceptance, the understanding that life would never get any better than this—that hopes and dreams were for other, richer children.

Suddenly, the skin on the back of Regina's neck prickled, and she stopped dead on the cracked sidewalk. Someone was watching her. Again. She hugged one of the children as she scanned the street, but saw nothing out of place, no one who didn't belong. Yet there was someone there, someone with evil in mind. Every street child knew what that meant. If you were smart, you ran and hid.

Even fifteen years later, Regina's flight instincts screamed just that. But she wouldn't. Couldn't. The children needed her. She fingered her switchblade and looked back, relieved to see old Jorge in the beat–up orphanage van, lumbering slowly up the cobbled street behind her. The groundskeeper had packed an extra box of blankets, in case the thermometer dropped sharply tonight. And he carried his own knife—just in case. Jorge clambered down from the van and opened the back doors.

"Go get a blanket, children. Fernando, where is the one I gave you yesterday?"

The instant the words left her mouth, Regina wanted to call them back. The twelve–year–old hung his head in shame and shrugged, telling her without words that someone had taken it from him and he hadn't been able to stop them. "Go get another. It is all right," she said gently, trying to spare his pride.

"Thank you, Senhorita Angel," he said, but instead of heading toward the line forming behind the van, he disappeared into the shadows.

Regina tried to call him back, but snapped her attention to the basket when one of the newer boys tried to make off with two pastries. "One," she said firmly, holding his thin wrist until he let go.

Within moments, the meat pastries were gone, the blankets dispersed, and she'd sent at least ten children to the van for a ride to the orphanage. If she could have fit more pallets into the dining hall, Regina would have scooped up more children. And still, the crowd grew bigger than it had been before.

"Senhorita Angel," a voice shouted.

Whirling around, Regina saw Fernando running toward her. Panting, he skidded to a stop. "You must come, now. Please."

Regina didn't hesitate. Before she reached the van, Jorge had started the engine and handed her medical bag through the window. He motioned her forward and prepared to follow.

"Let's go," she said, and smiled when Fernando grabbed her bag before galloping off. She couldn't be sure if this was his attempt at gallantry, or a way to make sure she kept up with his punishing pace. As she ran down narrow alleys and grim little streets, Regina prepared to put the nurse's training she'd received in the US to instant use. She prayed it would be enough. Too often, though, what little she could offer came years too late.


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