by Millie Criswell

April 2002
ISBN: 0-8041-1993-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Ballantine Books
Mass Market Paperback

Fans of romantic comedy such as Jennifer Crusie’s and Susan Andersen’s novels will have a new favorite author to add to their list! Millie Criswell’s The Trials of Angela is a funny, lighthearted read that is sure to leave you with a smile on your face.

Angela DeNero’s day – no, make that life – has not been going well. Her ex-fiancé dumped her for another woman, her overprotective parents are moving back to town and her law firm is barely holding its head above water. To top it off, her old high school crush, John Franco, is the opposing counsel of a custody trial she is representing. It definitely doesn’t help matters that he is even better looking than Russell Crowe and that he is showing a distinct interest in making up for the lost time he could have had with Angela back in high school. Angela doesn’t need any more complications in her already complicated life but John is hard to say no to and Angela isn’t sure she really wants to say no anyway.

John has his own set of problems. His family is not happy that he is on the wrong side of the courtroom, so to speak, in a trial against his very own cousin and besides making his life miserable and butting their nose in his love life, his aunt and grandmother have even threatened to put a curse on him! Furthermore, John cannot get Angela out of his mind even though he is definitely not interested in marriage after his own failed marriage with another lawyer. He likes to learn his lesson the first time around. Then there is the “conflict of interest” of his being involved with Angela while they are both working on the same custody hearing.

Despite both of their better judgments, Angela and John soon find themselves in a tangled romance that has all of Little Italy in an uproar.

Each chapter in The Trials of Angela cleverly begins with a lawyer joke that is sure to make you at least groan, if not smile. However, despite all the laughter and quirkiness of The Trials of Angela, there are plenty of serious moments also. The novel is not only a romance, but it also is about family and the exasperating but loving moments we all have with our relatives. It doesn’t matter that we may not be Italian or Catholic; the family members in The Trials of Angela are characters anyone can relate to.

In addition to the very likable main characters, there are also colorful secondary characters, including Angela’s cross-dressing father and John’s shoplifting grandmother. There is an abundance of cast that would have been less confusing to keep track of, I’m sure, if I had read the 2 previous books, The Trouble with Mary and What to do About Annie. I also really enjoyed the setting of Little Italy in Baltimore since it was a new and refreshing change of pace from the usual.

The Trials of Angela is so good that I plan to find Millie Criswell’s previous books (The Trouble with Mary and What to do About Annie) that focus on several of the secondary characters from The Trials of Angela. I only wish I would have read them in order! I will also be waiting impatiently to read Angela’s sister’s story, Mad About Mia, which will be coming out in March of 2003.

Reviewed in May 2002 by Nicole.

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