Angels Wings by Anne Stuart released on Mar 25, 2004 is available now for purchase.
|Product dimensions:||4.19(w) x 6.63(h) x 0.68(d)|
About the Author
Anne Stuart loves Japanese rock and roll, wearable art, Spike, her two kids, Clairefontaine paper, quilting, her delicious husband of thirty-four years, fellow writers, her three cats, telling stories and living in Vermont. She’s not too crazy about politics and diets and a winter that never ends, but then, life’s always a trade-off. Visit her at www.Anne-Stuart.com.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter OneAngela Hogan tipped back in her squeaky office chair, propped her open-toed spectator pumps on the littered desk and surveyed her options. She lit a cigarette, taking in a deep drag, and stared out past the open door to the cavernous airplane hangar beyond. Hogan's Air Freight Service looked efficient, prosperous, the planes shiny, well cared for as they waited their turn to soar out into the bright Illinois sky just outside of Chicago.
And that was the problem, Angela thought. They shouldn't be sitting idle on such a wonderful day. They should be out earning her a dubious living. It was Saturday, a perfect late-spring day in 1937, a day made for flying lessons if nothing else. Only Sparks had been out that day, testing the small Lockheed Vega, checking its paces, and he'd taken no paying customer with him. She didn't know where he was now, but it didn't matter. There were no cash customers on such a perfect flying day.
Her other pilot, Robert Bellamy, was probably sleeping off a hangover. And she was all gussied up to do what she hated most. To charm money from what was left of her mother's family, just enough to keep things in the black for another month.
If she had her choice, she'd be wearing trousers and a tailored shirt instead of her sister Constance's version of a Vionnet day dress. She'd be wearing lace-up brogues instead of these idiotic shoes. Her chestnut hair would be tied back from her angular face, instead of sweeping around it in a seductive pageboy. She'd look like what she was, a pilot, a girl who cared about nothing but flying, her business and her beautiful half sister, not necessarily in that order. Instead she looked like what she was born, a young woman from the heart of Chicago society, the product of a misalliance between one of 1909's top debutantes and her Irish chauffeur.
Angela's grandmother, the indomitable Harriette Lindsey Maynard, was powerful enough that young Julia's fall from grace was quickly glossed over, particularly since it was preceded by a hasty marriage and followed by Frank Hogan discovering airplanes and becoming scarce indeed. Divorce was out of the question for a Maynard, but frail Julia died young, leaving Frank free to follow his passion for flying, not to mention his passion for a certain blond waitress in Evanston. It didn't leave him free to take his young daughter with him, but by the time Angela was eighteen, her overwhelming grandmother had died, the crash had taken the bulk of the Maynard family fortune and everyone was too concerned with their own financial disaster to spare a thought for one young lady.
She'd had two splendid years away from designer dresses and white gloves and pearls. Away from debutante parties and speakeasies and pressure to make a good marriage. She spent those two years living in a rooming house in east Evanston with her father for the first time, learning to fly.
It hadn't taken her long to realize that was what she'd been born to do. From the moment she'd sat in the cockpit of her father's spiffy little Avro Avian, she felt as if she'd come home. She'd earned her pilot's license in record time, chafing at every delay, and from then on she'd spent every available moment in the sky.
When she wasn't obsessed with flying, she'd been devoted to her little half sister, Connie, and even managed to enjoy her stepmother Goldie's company. She'd been too absorbed in her own life to realize exactly what Frank was doing during his flights to Canada and back. Exactly what he was carrying and what he was skimming off the top.
His employers, however, had no such problem. They knew Frank was selling a goodly portion of the Canadian whiskey they brought in to a few customers of his own, and they had no qualms about making their displeasure known. Al Capone wasn't famed for his forbearance, and when Angela had just turned twenty-one years old, the rooming house exploded in a ball of fire, killing Frank and Goldie and old Mrs. McCarthy, their landlady.
Angela had been flying at the time; Connie had been in school. In the morning they'd been a happy, if somewhat motley family. By the afternoon they were two orphans with no home, no money, nothing but an old airplane hangar on a private airfield, two slightly battered planes and the uncertain fear that gangland recrimination might not end there.
Angela's tears had dried the moment she understood the situation. The police made it very clear - Frank Hogan's feckless ways had gotten them into this mess, endangering his children, killing his wife and another innocent woman. Therefore he wasn't worth mourning. What mattered now was for Angela to make some sort of life for herself and her teenage sister.
She'd managed to section off a part of the cavernous hangar and to beg and borrow enough furniture to provide a makeshift home for Connie while she waited to see whether mob honor had been satisfied or if one morning the entire airplane hangar was going to explode.
Her small, postcrash inheritance lasted them exactly fourteen months, long enough for Connie, now calling herself Constance, to graduate from high school, long enough for Angela to win a few air races, earn a little bit of money giving lessons, carrying freight.
But Angela couldn't earn enough, not at first. People were reluctant to hire a woman, a young one at that. They were frightened enough of airplanes, not to mention the utter panic of entrusting their lives to a female not much past twenty-one. So Angela had made her first trip back into Chicago, to her Great-uncle Richard, who'd always had a fondness for her.
His gift had enabled her to become the first woman to fly nonstop from Chicago to Denver, not to mention pay their overdue bills and keep Constance in nail polish. The newspaper coverage, calling Angela the newest darling of the air, brought in more business, enough to keep them going awhile longer.
It had gone on like that, Angela thought, for far too long, each time finding another relative with an interest in air travel and a not completely decimated income. She'd hoped she'd been past all that. For a while it seemed as if a happy ending was hers when Hal Ramsey had flown into her life.
He'd been everything she'd ever wanted. One of the world's great pilots, he'd made her puny little records seem laughable. He'd forgotten more about flying than she would ever know, and he'd taken Hogan Air Freight in hand and brought in more business than they could handle. They'd bought two more planes, hired Thomas Crowley, better known as Sparks, as a third pilot, and become practically solvent. And Hal, dear man, had loved her, wanted to marry her and never pushed her further than she was ready to go.
She wished he had pushed her. Maybe now she'd have something to show for those years besides a mountain of debts, a mechanic who didn't know a twin-engine from a biplane, one pilot whose eyesight wasn't all that it should be and another who was an out and out drunk and a thief.
But she kept postponing things, and two weeks before the wedding Hal had died trying to break the record flight from Newfoundland to Havana, Cuba. And breaking her heart at the same time.
So she was back to begging money from her family. She had enough to make ends meet, particularly since she was about to fire both Bellamy and the half-baked mechanic he'd recommended. Constance had taken a job at the local Woolworths, though all her money seemed to be eaten up by the local movie house and her inexhaustible lust for cosmetics, but even with the planes idle far too much of the time, the money still managed to stretch far enough, at least for now.
Not, however, to pay the expenses of a record-breaking flight from Newfoundland to Havana. And that was exactly what Angela intended to do.
She knew just how to approach her Cousin Clement. He was a decent businessman - he had to be, in the dark days of the Depression, in order to keep any of his money. He was looking ahead toward the darkening clouds of warfare that hung over Europe and thinking of the future. And he knew as well as she did that the future of warfare, and the world, was in the air.
Excerpted from Angels Wings by Anne Stuart Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd. . Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Anne Stuart turns on the pixie dust again and dazzles our minds! There is, undoubtedly, no writer who has quite her special magic. I buy her books on her name alone, because I know simply she will provide me with a very special story - every time. I recall with Ritual Sins came out, I thought opps, the storyline won¿t work for me. Stuart likely smiled, knowing that is the reaction she would get from her loyal fans. She also knew she¿d take them down those dark, claustrophobic corridors, rife with emotions, that she would mesmerise us against our will. Ritual Sins proved Stuart could take a subject off-putting and dancing in the fire ¿ and demand of her readers that they do the same. She is not ¿safe¿ writer. She does not take the easy way or go with the flow of politically correct. She designs, crafts and uses her magic wand to weave tales that are brilliant. She is without doubt the resident genius of Romance! So when Angel Wings came in, I thought, opps¿.the story is set in 1937 and about flying. Not my cup of tea. And again Stuart likely smiled, because she has gone bifity-bofity and once again pulled her hat-trick. Angel Wings is pure Stuart witchcraft and grabs the reader and does not let them go. Be prepared for another Stuart bad boy that good girls cannot resist! Angela Hogan was engaged to a high-flying ace who died trying to set an aviation record in the style of Lucky Lindy. Now running her air freight cargo business, she is beset with all sorts of problems. A restless, younger sister who wants to be a movie star, an underhanded competitor who wants to run her out of business, three aeroplanes needing repairs, and she just fired her pilot and mechanic. So, when Jack Clancy swaggers into her office, he is both an answer to a prayer and her worst nightmare. Jack is international playboy, a love `em and leave `em guy who is splashes across the tabloids as often as he makes the news for his daring flying exploits. A man too bloody handsome for Angela¿s peace of mind. He and Angela instantly rub each other the wrong way, getting under each other¿s skins. Angela needs Jack to see her business does not go under, but the price of keeping him around is going to cost high! These characters leap off the pages, spellbinder you in the best Stuart magic. I just could not put it down. Stuart has a fine feel for the period, an eye to historical details. How things WERE, not as people think they were. She portrays the male ¿ female roles of the late 30¿s so well, not updating them the please the audience of today ¿ but giving the readers a time machine ride into the past. It¿s just does not get any better than this. All I can say to Stuart is ¿ don¿t ever stop!