Title: Once Upon an Angel
Author: Nancy Fraser
Genre: Inspirational Fantasy Romance
Two heroines, two heroes, and a meddling archangel. What could possibly go wrong?
Ariel’s an angel-in-training who has only one task she must complete to earn her wings—help the man she left behind find true love. She’s tried twice before, and failed. Or, did she?
Mark is a newly arrived soul in Heaven, one who was taken far too soon. He’ll need Ariel’s help to acclimate to his new, and totally surprising, surroundings.
Rick misses Ariel, yet is determined to move on with his life. Can this new barista at his favorite coffee shop be the woman he’s waited for?
Sabrina’s totally head over heels for the handsome Vice Principal, Rick. Yet, she comes with some hefty baggage. Can they make it work?
And, what has the archangel Gabriel done to hasten this double romance along?
Trigger warning: this story also contains two scenes that reference traumatic events surrounding children and schools. Please be advised that if this is something that may cause discomfort, you may wish to skip this book.
Ariel Pearce stood at the front of the assembled group, doing her best to covertly study the six newbies there for orientation. They sat still as statues in their seats, the only indication they were even awake shown in the way their gazes darted around the open space, taking it all in. Their expressions were a mixture of confusion and wonder. Glancing down at her notes, she prepared herself for the slew of questions she often had to field. Whether she wanted to or not.
She was about to begin her standard welcome speech when the door opened and Gabe—her direct supervisor—came through.
Oh great. Another impromptu performance evaluation.
It wasn’t until he’d come forward that Ariel realized Gabe wasn’t alone. Another man followed closely behind, his focus moving right and left; a look of utter disbelief rearranging his otherwise pleasing features.
“Oh good,” Gabe said, his deep voice filled with calm. “You’ve not started yet. I have a late arrival for orientation.”
Gabe motioned the young man to a nearby seat. Rather than turn and leave, Gabe settled into the chair at his side.
Drawing a breath for strength, Ariel launched into her presentation. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to your first day. My name is Ariel, and I’ll be leading orientation. Today we’ll cover the rules, our expectations, and I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability.”
Whispers flitted through the room like a buzzing of bumblebees.
What? They weren’t expecting “rules”?
“Before I begin,” Ariel continued, “how about we go around the room and everyone tell us a bit about yourselves. Perhaps you can talk about your family, or a previous occupation. Whatever you’d like to share.”
When she motioned to the front row, a kindly looking, gray haired woman rose slowly to her feet.
“My name is Harriett. I’m a grandmother of five. I love to bake and used to work as an auditor for an insurance company. However, I’ve been retired for seven years.”
Once Harriet sat down, the young man next to her stood.
“My name’s Jeremy. I just graduated high school and was hoping to start trade school next spring. I enjoy playing video games and hanging with my buddies.”
One by one, they went around the room until they finally reached the man to Gabe’s left.
“And, you are?” Ariel prompted.
He raised his head and met her gaze. Yet, unlike the others, he remained seated. “My name is Mark. I am... was... a schoolteacher before...” His words drifted off.
Ariel knew better than to press for more.
“Thank you all for sharing. Once we’re done here, everyone will be assigned a mentor who will give them a more personalized tour. The overall expectations and rules are simple. We expect you to complete any assignments you’re given. We expect that you’ll attend to your personal space and keep it neat and clean. More importantly, we expect everyone will follow the golden rule of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.”
“That’s it?” Harriet asked. “Surely there’s more.”
Ariel offered the anxious woman a smile. “That’s all there is to it, Harriet.” Ariel paused a moment before asking, “Does anyone else have a question?”
When no one raised their hand, Ariel breathed a sigh of relief. She hated the questions. Sometimes there were just no acceptable answers. “Well then, we’ll adjourn to the reception room next door where you will be introduced to your mentor.”
She raised her head and looked out across the room one last time, and let the importance of her next words sink into her very soul.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Heaven.”
One-by-one, the newly deceased filtered into the adjoining room, eager to meet their assigned guide. Only Gabe and Mark remained behind. Hesitantly, Ariel approached.
“Wonderful job, as always, Ariel,” Gabe complimented as she drew close.
“I’ll need to find another mentor,” she said once she’d stopped at Gabe’s side. “I’d only planned for six arrivals.”
“That won’t be necessary, Ariel. I’ve decided to have you work with Mark.”
“Me?” Ariel squeaked. She hadn’t been on mentoring duty in at least two years.
“Yes. You,” Gabe responded, his voice wrapping firmly around the two simple words.
“Of course. I’d be happy to be Mark’s guide.” Nobody argued with or questioned Gabe. She wasn’t about to be the first one to try.
“Here’s his intake information,” Gabe said, handing her the single piece of paper, the gold calligraphy exquisite in its perfection. Rising to his feet, he told them, “I’ll leave the two of you to get acquainted.”
Once Gabe left, Ariel scanned the form quickly, her attention drawn to the final few lines. “You were a teacher in Baltimore,” she said, meeting Mark’s dark stare. “So was I. Elementary though, not high school. Ages ago.”
“How long was ‘ages ago’?” Mark asked.
“Five years as of next February.”
He grew quiet, pensive, as if he were mentally calculating events and dates. Subconsciously, she supposed, he ran a trembling hand across his chest and glanced down at his black shirt and sport jacket, before coming back to meet her gaze.
“Peterson Elementary?” Mark finally asked. When she nodded, he drew a breath and added, “It makes sense, now.”
“What makes sense?”
“Why your boss chose you to be my mentor. We obviously have something in common.”
“Yes, I guess we do,” she agreed. “Gabe’s good at matching newly arrived souls with the right guide.”
“Gabe, is it? He never told me his name.”
Ariel stifled her urge to laugh. “Yeah, he’s reluctant about introducing himself. He goes out of his way to avoid intimidating people.”
A look of confusion furrowed Mark’s brow. “Intimidating? How?”
“Most new arrivals get star struck and nervous when they realize they’ve come face-to-face with the Archangel Gabriel.”
“Arch... Jeez, Louise.”
This time Ariel did laugh. “Exactly.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
I’ve always been a fan of the genre of religious fantasy. Touched by an Angel and It’s a Wonderful Life were my favorites in both television shows and movies dealing with angels and the earthly people they help. Then, one day, my frazzled writer’s brain thought ... hey, I bet I could make a sweet romance out of this heavenly sub-genre. Once Upon and Angel is filled with my fantasy of what Heaven could be like, combined with an earthly sweet romance, and even an Arch Angel for good measure. It was a pleasure to write, even when it made me a shed a tear or two.
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Nancy Fraser a Top 100 best-selling and award-winning author.
She's also the granddaughter of a Methodist minister known for his fire-and-brimstone approach to his faith. Nancy has brought some of his spirit into her Christian romances. And, her own off-beat sense of humor to her clean & wholesome books.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.
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