Two angels are assigned to a case involving two humans--and trouble ensues when their styles of guardianship conflict. Clancy is the only daughter of a cartoonishly mean-spirited alcoholic woman who makes her first 18 years a living hell and then dies, leaving Clancy jaded and fiercely independent. Matthew is a coddled British boy, a student at Eton, who moves to Los Angeles to live with his eccentric great-aunt when his parents are killed suddenly in a car accident. According to ``The Celestial Council,'' the body of angels who feature prominently here, the two had been destined to meet at age 18 but hadn't, throwing the world off- kilter. Two angels--Carlita, a former prostitute (in her Earth life) and an angel-in-waiting, and Gabriella, a superior angel--are assigned to the case. Carlita, in particular, can't resist causing ``time ripples,'' alternate realities in which Clancy and Matthew do meet when they're supposed to, altering their destinies for the few moments Carlita watches the scene. Gabriella, wiser and more experienced, warns her not to get too involved, and to avoid fantasizing about her charges. A parallel story involves Carlita's inexplicable attraction to a young boy named Erik Kents. Ultimately, it's Carlita's attachment to Mira, Erik's mother, that provides the key to this odd emotional bond and forces Carlita to realize what being an angel truly entails. Secondary characters- -including Matthew's wacky Aunt Nora and his lesbian friend Lisa- -provide much needed levity. But when Clancy and Matthew do finally meet, the reader has long since become too exasperated by the melodrama to care. Conn's (Passion's Shadow, 1995, etc.) angels are neither charming nor whimsical; their presence makes this otherwise unremarkable love story all the more convoluted.