Book Review – Shrewd Angel by Anyta Sunday

The Christmas Angel #6
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 227
Characters: Pax/Cliff
POV: 3rd
Genre: Contemporary (1990s) with a touch of magic

Pax Polo is the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.

Correction: Was the swashbuckling guitarist for Serenity Free.

Now he sports a black eye and his bros have kicked him out of their band—three weeks before Christmas. It’s an unfamiliar kick to his over-inflated ego, but . . . whatever.

No problem.

Thanks to some stellar eavesdropping, an unexpected angel ornament, and a bribe to open for his favorite band ever, Pax will weasel his way back into his mates’ good graces.

All he has to do is friend Clifford, the neighborhood man-shrew, for the summer. Distract him a bit so Clifford’s younger sister can sneak around.

It sounds like a piece of beginners Beethoven. Jolly good fun.


Because, Pax totally knows how to friend people. He has heaps of friends. This shrew’s no match for his shrewd ways. Or is he?

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I had to read a book set in Dunedin in the 1990s. I loved the New Zealand locations and Kiwi references in the story, along with the feel of the 1990s. An added bonus for me was the visit to Larnach Castle as it’s somewhere I’ve been. All of the locations, though, even the ones I hadn’t been to, were very easy to visualize and added to the ‘flavour’ of the story. The only thing that threw me out a couple of times was Cliff referring to his mother as ‘mom’ which is out of place in a story set in New Zealand.

Although the story is in part a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, it’s much more than that, and it’s not really the ‘shrew’ who changes, but Pax who realises a few home truths about himself.

I loved the music theme throughout the story, and Cliff—who I thought really wasn’t a shrew, and behaved the way he did for good reason—was my favourite character. I liked how he and Pax slowly grow their friendship despite Pax’s determination to see him as a shrew. I love the scene where they’re using ingredients for muffins to describe character traits – it was very nicely done.

The supporting cast were also fun, and I liked the sibling dynamic between Cliff and Bianca. The banter is great, yet it’s obvious they really care for each other. I thought her decision at the end of the story was a nice twist on the original tale.

The story itself is a feel good light read, and the characters are fun, although Pax isn’t as smart as he’d like to think he is. The angel adds a bit of magical realism, not intrusive, yet there to nudge things in the right direction, while Pax, of course, thinks it’s all his idea.

I’d recommend Shrewd Angel to readers who enjoy a feel good, slow burn Kiwi romance with fun characters against a musical backdrop. 5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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