Review: Christmas Wish (a Romanorum world story) by Shayne Carmichael & Mychael Black

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

All I Want Christmas WishIt 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)

Book Details:

ebook, 26 pages
Published December 4th 2013 by Torquere Press

Review of Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum #3) by Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Mael Black and his consort, Cian, are busy with their responsibilities and their plan to bring a son with their joined blood into their lives. The fact that Mael Black is the Vampire Prince of London and Cian, a vampire hunting angel, makes their combined duties that much more complicated.  The vampires under Mael’s rule are unhappy with his choice of consort as is his father, the powerful Lord Nigel.   And while Cian no longer hunts vampires, sometimes his very nature can cause misunderstandings in their relationship as Cian is still trying to figure out what it means to be human.

A messenger brings a summons from the court in Rome.  An ancient force is awake and coming to destroy the Romanorum and with it all that Mael and Cian hold dear. When their plans for a son is revealed to Nigel, he plots to separate his son from Cian by any means possible, including death.  With court intrigue, mysterious were deaths, and  unexpected betrayals to deal with as well as the new threat, it will take Mael, Cian, along with a contingent of gods, vampires, and angels to combat the ancient evil and save their world.

It’s been four years since the last book, And Two Shall Become One (Legends of the Romanorum #2) was published and I had forgotten how much I had loved Mael Black and Cian.  And now with Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum #3), their saga is finally over, although other couples in the series look to be getting their own books.  Here, the authors have given Mael and Cian a wonderful sendoff that left me happily satisfied and looking forward to more.

The premise of the series hooked me in from the very start.  You have a vampire Prince and a vampire killing Angel attracted to each other when by their very natures they should be deadly enemies. The first book covers their unconventional  romance from the beginning, where we see the emotional turmoil and mental anguish their feelings bring.  The second book in series sees their relationship continue to deepen as Mael announces to the court that Cian is now his consort and the consequences of that decision. Now they are an established couple but still discovering parts of each other previously unknown.  Cian is a 3,000 year old angel who is still trying to figure out what it means to be human and that includes jealousy.  Mael understands human nature but has not seen what a angry Angel can mean.  I love the fact that Black and Carmichael take the issues that might pop up as a couple navigates a new relationship and applies it to a new couple with diametrically opposed natures. And does a great job with it.  Yes, Mael and Cian are busy with their jobs that they forget to make time for each other.  Typical issue.  But Cian is Mael’s ghoul and needs to feed from him, not so typical. Mael needs to understand that Cian accepts his job as Prince and understand the pressures he is under. Typical.  That is job contains meeting with were rulers and messages from the devil, not so typical. And so on.  Typical relationship ramped up to nth degree.

The characterizations here are wonderful, full of beings is it easy to love.  In fact Cornelius, court sorcerer, and Brandon, a young vampire rescued off the streets almost stole the second book away from the two main characters, they were that special and endearing in every way.  For those of you who loved them as I did, both Cornelius and Brandon appear here as well.  Another couple starts a relationship here that I suspect will continue, along with Cornelius and Brandon, in other books.  In fact, I would say the problem here is that there is a surfeit of great characters and couples all striving for the readers attention.  Along with the couples already mentioned, back from previous books are Michael and Selena, Dio and Josh,  and so many others that it becomes hard to remember who is paired up and what their backstory is.  An abundance of wealth that could have been spread over additional pages or another story.  Then start throwing in Egyptian gods, Lucifer, werewolves, and the cast inflates almost more than the story can handle.

And that comes back to my final quibble.  If you have not read the first two books, you will be a little baffled once you start reading this book as the backstories and character development is contained in the previous stories . It is taken for granted that the reader is familiar with the convoluted plot lines and familial connections here.  This is a richly layered saga.  Coming in on it cold is definitely not recommended.  Start from the beginning.  Watch the relationship happen.  Weep and shout for joy during the second book. Come to love the characters as I did and then pick up this book.  You won’t be sorry. And now I will wait to see which couple gets the next book.  I hope it won’t be another four years before I find out.

Books in the series, in the order they were  written and should be read:

The Prince’s Angel (Legends of the Romanorum #1) Rating: 4 stars

And Two Shall Become One (Legends of the Romanorum #2) Rating: 4.5 stars

Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum #3) Rating: 4.25 stars

Cover:  Gorgeous cover by Alessia Brio