Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lasso the Stars

Lasso the Stars by L.L. Nielsen
Tate Publishing, 2/7/2012
Trade Paperback, 260 pages
ISBN-13: 9781613468548

Dina's life is nearing its end. But for Dina, the end is really just the beginning. For months, she's been fighting terminal cancer. She's finally resigned herself to preparing for the end. Her last few weeks are going to be with her sisters, sharing the happy memories of a life well spent.
Men are the last thing on her mind. That is, until an afternoon walk along a dusty, country road brings her face to face with an angel. Only this angel is nothing like Dina ever pictured angels would be. 'The man had an easy-going smile. A pair of aviator sunglasses rested on his nose. His dusty Levi's covered long legs that ended in well-worn cowboy boots...He stepped down off the gate and held his hand out. ''Gil.''
Preferring boots and spurs to harps and wings, Gil takes Dina horseback riding. She begins to feel new energy surge through her. And before she realizes it, Dina falls head over heels for Gil. Gil is falling for her too, but his secret identity may get in the way of his feelings.
Gil knows he can't hide who he is for much longer. But how can he tell her? Are angels even allowed to fall in love with humans? When Gil leaves to find answers, Dina is devastated. She confides in her sisters, but they think her cancer meds made her dream up the whole relationship. Even though Dina knows the truth, she's growing weaker every day, and the only one who can help her has disappeared.
Will tonight's sky be the last one she looks upon? Or will Gil Lasso the Stars for Dina?

My Thoughts:
In Lasso the Stars by L.L. Nielsen, Dina is dying. She has terminal cancer and is living out the end of her life at her family's old farmhouse in the country, cared for by her sister Rachel, and collecting good memories from her life. Dina knows all to well that "Dying wasn't easy, and cancer was a mean disease. (pg. 19)" While taking a walk one day, Dina meets a handsome stranger, who is apparently a cowboy, a hand at some nearby ranch. Soon, Dina learns that Gil is really her angel, sent there to help her reach a peaceful end, even while they are falling in love.
There are some very good, touching parts of Lasso the Stars by L.L. Nielsen. Her descriptions of Dina recalling her memories or describing the countryside soar with poetic ardor. And the fact that Dina has terminal cancer is handled with great compassion and empathy. Both of these facts make the book highly recommended... The dialog doesn't always come across as completely natural, however, it's certainly acceptable. But, sigh, then we come to Gil, the cowboy angel.
First, I want to make it clear that I believe in angels. I believe they are messengers from God sent to help us here on earth. I could fully believe an angel could be sent to help guide someone to reach the end of their life with dignity and grace.
There are two things about Gil the angel in Lasso the Stars that I had a hard time accepting.
First, his cowboy southern drawl was distracting. I have always imagined angels would have a good grasp of the spoken language of the person they were sent to assist - and Dina had no drawl.
But the second and biggest problem I have with Gil is the romance with Dina...
Spoiler, so don't read this next paragraph if you are planning to read the book:
Gil saying "...angels are love; they come from it, they live with it, and they offer it. I think I'll add in various forms (pg. 255)."  Okay, then... hmmmm. I could totally go with the Cowboy angel sent to help and assist Dina and love her with a brotherly love, full of compassion and tenderness, but once it became physical and Gil gave that little speech at the end explaining how it was all okay, it totally diminished all the positive parts of the story for me. If the angel's motives had been kept pure, sexless, compassionate, and uplifting, I'd like Lasso the Stars much, much more.
So, in the end if you think you would enjoy a book with a romance that includes an angel, go for it - you'll probably like it very much. But I can only go as far as So-So for this one, which I regret because the good parts were very good.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from TLC for review purposes. 

It was a delicate spring day just before the white blossoms would burst from the trees. Five-year-old Dina was sitting in the old apple grove with her friend.... Her friend had never had a name, yet they'd known each other forever. opening
I shook my head. Well, the man and horse didn't just vaporize out of moist air, and neither did the cat. I must have overdosed on pain meds that morning, so I was still foggy. Yet I felt fine; a bit tired from my walk and certainly dusty from the dirt road, but overall I was okay. As long as the man and his companions were there, I'd better say hello. pg. 11
I smiled happily. This memory made me laugh. I would fold it up and pack it away.
My thanks for this idea went to the young woman who had headed the therapy group for cancer patients. We were all encouraged to participate at the meeting, and then we divided into groups. After one session on "Preparing to Leave," I did just that. It seemed that we terminal patients had developed a strange sense of humor and referred to the sessions as "Exit Strategy," much to the chagrin of friends and family. Still, I didn't fault the woman in charge.... Her one good idea was the memory suitcase, which I carried with me when I left her group. pg. 16-17
"Life moves in a funny way, Dina." His look was confident. "So if y'all want to ride Mary here, she's ready."
"Look, Gil, I should tell you right up front I'm not exactly what you would call..." I paused....
"Well..." I hesitated as thoughts dashed around my head. "truth is, I have..." But the words didn't come out as I had planned. pg. 24
Gil shifted in the saddle. "As a child, I wanted to lasso the stars and pull 'em down from the heavens. Keep 'em in a box under my bed so that I could look at 'em, maybe give one or two away to my best buddies." pg. 35
He reached across his horse and gently touched my hand. "The journey is filled with joy, Dina." pg. 40


Jeanne said...

This one sounds very tame compared to all the Supernatural fanfics about love and sex with the angel Castiel! There are people who think about this ALL THE TIME, evidently!

Lori L said...

I really don't get this Jeanne - and not because I don't watch Supernatural. For me it almost represents someone with power taking advantage of that power over another person. Of course, the victim allows herself to be used.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

L. L. Nielsen said...

Thanks, Lori, for reading Lasso. After creating the character of Gil, I learned quickly that readers either really liked him or not. So far there has been no maybe's with the angel. I appreciated your comments. Thanks for the quotes.
L. L. Nielsen

Lori L said...

I am sorry I had such a negative reaction to Gil because, as I said, everything else was very, very good.