Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
It has been ten years since Elian was forced to leave his soulmate, mortal Ryan Nixon. Elian was a angel, a grigori who is a watcher angel who teaches human certain life lessons. They are not supposed to get involved with humans and Elian broke all their rules when he fell in love with Ryan and became his lover. Forced to separate from Ryan, Elian has now completed his punishment and returned to Earth to find Ryan.
But the man has greatly changed. The man Elian left was brash, intelligent and ambitious. The Ryan Elian found was homeless, gaunt, and on the verge of dying. Both men have now paid for their mistakes. Ryan has lost everything his ambition and greed initially won him. Elian lost ten years in isolation, banished from Earth to pay for breaking the rules. Now the angel has found his lover once more. Is it too late for their love to succeed? Or will their christmas wish make a miracle happen so they can find a way back to each other?
Shayne Carmichael and Mychael Black’s Romanorum stories are among my favorites so I was delighted to see this Torquere Holiday Sip that ventured back into that universe and brought back a major character, Cian, albeit in a minor role. The authors gifts of characterization and description bring the plight of Ryan Nixon powerfully to life. This is Elian’s first sighting of Ryan after ten years apart and it is a heartbreaking one:
Elian spotted a lone figure on a wooden bench, partially hidden by a tattered coat. Elian’s heart broke all over again. Ryan had indeed learned about the dangers of greed and avarice, and the lesson had taken everything — everything — away from him, leaving him a broken, destitute man.
Threadbare gloves barely covered the hands that held the coat closed against the bite of the winter wind. Though he was only thirty-two, time had etched lines in the once- youthful face, and a sprinkling of gray dusted the black hair.
Huddled on the bench, he appeared to pay no attention to the few who braved the cold on their own business. A half-eaten sandwich lay forgotten in its plastic wrapping as Ryan stared off in the distance at a grove of trees.
Elian crouched in front of him, meeting Ryan’s empty gaze. He reached out and smoothed a lock of dark hair back from green eyes that once held a spark of life. Now they just seemed… lost.
The man Elian is confronted with is someone who has lost all hope and seems ready to die, one of many found on any winter street in any city or town. An added layer to Ryan’s despair is the fact that he is to blame for his downfall, that his avarice and overwhelming ambition that made him rich also ruined him and Ryan has had ten years to realize that.
Carmichael and Black make Ryan believable in his self-loathing and despair. He has gone beyond bitterness into an emotional place of isolation and emptiness that gives this portrait of homelessness a feel of authenticity. Elian’s character, an angel who defied Heaven’s laws to be with his lover, is harder to grasp, probably because he is more of a two note persona, goodness and light, to feel entirely credible. And their love story and reconnection, while emotionally engaging, felt too rushed to be believable, especially after all that has occurred during their ten-year separation.
These authors have made their angel characters multidimensional in the past so I think the issue with Elian is that the story length doesn’t give the authors enough space to imbue Elian with the depth of character he needs to feel real. In fact, I think that shortness hurts this story in almost every way. For those readers unfamiliar with the Romanorum universe, the lack of backstory will leave many of them confused about the plot. Especially when Cian appears to offer his apologies to Elian. Most people will wonder exactly what and who Cian is referring to (or exactly who Cian is and why he is important) when offering his explanation for his actions. Unless you have read all the previous books or at least The Prince’s Angel, you will be lost during this section of the story.
I did really like this story but I had the background to do so. I absolutely recommend this series and would want any new reader to start at the beginning with The Prince’s Angel to get a better understanding of the universe and the huge cast of characters to be found there, including angels and vampires. Used as a part of the whole, then I can absolutely recommend Christmas Wish to all.
Cover artist is not listed as I suspect this is a blanket cover used for many of Torquere Holiday Sip stories.
Books in the Romanorum series:
The Prince’s Angel (Legends of the Romanorum, #1)
And the Two Shall Become One (Legends of the Romanorum, #2)
Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum, #3)
Christmas Wish (Legends of the Romanorum, #4)