By Renee Carlino
Release Day: January 9, 2017
“My guardian angel is a drunk.”
Evelyn Casey's life is at a standstill. She's in her mid-twenties, struggling with the dating scene in San Francisco. Nothing seems to be working out, and she’s starting to think that she’ll live out her days in her crummy apartment with her overbearing roommate, Brooklyn. It's absurd, but sometimes Evey longs for a guardian angel to show up and save the day.
And then he does. Seriously. His name is Lucian and he's a guardian angel, been on the job for two thousand years. His sudden presence in her life is both good—he's brilliant, witty, and warm—and bad—he's brilliant, witty, warm, and hot as ----. But as perfect as Lucian seems, he’s got problems of his own. He’s taken up drinking and he’s brazenly inserted himself into Evey’s life, going against the greatest cosmic law ever created.
For Evey, the rules are simple: You are not allowed to hook up with your guardian angel. But sometimes fulfilling your destiny requires a leap of faith, a confrontation with God.
Yes, God as in God.
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Do you believe in guardian angels? How would you feel if you met a hot drunk guy at a bar, and he told you he was yours? I would probably think he was joking or insane, and that is pretty much what Evey thinks when she first meets Lucian. Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those stories where the angel spends the entire book trying to convince the heroine that he really is an angel. He does something shocking right away that doesn’t leave any doubt that he is who he says he is. Lucian Devine is instead a tale of forbidden love between a woman and her angel.
This standalone paranormal romance was my introduction to Renee Carlino’s writing. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and I have no bias based on being a fan of her previous work. I realize the paranormal genre is new to this author, so I went into this with an open mind and high hopes. Now that I have completed the novel, I am having trouble rating and reviewing it. This is mostly due to the fact that I had conflicting emotions while reading it, and because of the way it ended. In the beginning, I thought this was going to be a 5 star read for me. Hell, even the prologue was perfect. Before long, I was smiling from ear to ear. I may have read a couple of lines out loud to my husband and had a little laugh. All of a sudden, things began to happen that had me scratching my head in confusion.
What made me enjoy it so much in the beginning? I absolutely loved the introductions to the main characters and the rest of the angels. Their interactions were interesting and entertaining. I loved the banter between Lucian and Evey. I loved the comical way Lucian’s friend tried to warn him away from her. Lucian more than any other character charmed me right away. He was an angel fond of whiskey that was deeply in love with the heroine to the point of breaking rules in place for thousands of years to be with her. What’s not to love?
“Evelyn, I’ve existed for more than two millennia. In two thousand years, I have watched over so many lives. At times, more than five souls were my responsibility alone. I’ve watched all of them die. I’ve held many of them while they were dying. It’s in my nature to do that, to give peace to my souls, to look out for them when I can, to sway the good ones to do the right thing, and to protect man and life here on Earth. I’ve watched over stunningly beautiful and brilliant women, but I have never felt love for any human the way I feel it for you. You are literally the air in my lungs.”
Where did things begin to go wrong? Well, remember when I said that Lucian is in love with Evey? Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden he is having sex with someone random angel. I want to be clear that he and Evey were not in a relationship yet, but they were headed that way. I am not a person that is normally bothered by the hero having sex with another women even if it happens after they meet the heroine. It just needs to serve some purpose or make sense for the character at the time, and I’m good. I may not like it, but I understand why the author included it in the story. That was not the case here, and it really upset me. What happened after with the heroine upset me further, and I will just let you guess what that was. It pulled me right out of the story.
I shook that off and decided to continue with the story. I won’t stop reading a book just because I dislike one thing that happens, especially since I was absolutely loving it up until that point. What followed was a story that was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I enjoyed it, and I was frustrated with it. I got the ending I wanted, but not the way I wanted it. I enjoyed it, and was slightly disappointed by it. See? Conflicting emotions.
The parts of the story I loved had to do with Lucian and Evey’s commitment to each other no matter the obstacles standing in their way. The sacrifices Lucian and Evey were willing to make to be together was touching. I wanted for them to be able to live a long happy life together so badly. I was invested in the characters, and obviously, I credit that to the author’s writing.
At the same time, the pacing was way off. It went from being perfectly paced to me feeling like I must have missed some pages. All of a sudden, they are saying I love you and going to meet Evey’s parents. Even with the paranormal aspect involved, it seemed like too much too fast. Then, the story starts progressing at break neck speed. Regardless of the reason behind that, it affected my connection to the characters. The story would have had an even greater impact on me if it gave me time to feel all of the emotions I was supposed to feel.
Not to mention, there is a point where the novel takes on a completely different feel altogether. The heartache Lucian and Evey experience changes a romantic, light-hearted book into a tragic and depressing one. Combine that with the change in pace, and it was almost like I was reading two different author’s writing instead of one. The couple begins to argue often. Evey starts to feel suffocated by Lucian. She keeps complaining about the need for more normality in their relationship. Acting like she has no idea why he might feel protective, she makes it known that she doesn’t like the way he always wants to watch over her now. Things between them are changing. When he is very ill, they are still fighting. Why did all of that happen? Who knows? Not me. It just made me feel really bad for Lucian, and that maybe he made the ultimate sacrifice for nothing. I thought maybe the author was trying to make them realize they were wrong for each other or that sometimes reality doesn’t live up to the fantasy, but I was wrong. Nothing ever comes from this fighting. I want to talk about this further, but I will spoil too much of the book, so I am going to leave it at that.
During the story, information given about the angels and God is extremely vague. They have never seen God. Lucian did, however, know Jesus. He, nor any other angel, ever asked Jesus any of the questions they had I guess. That makes no sense, but okay. The people over Lucian never have any definitive information about anything. They don’t know what’s happening to Lucian. Lucian and the other angels don’t even know if there is a heaven. Where do angels go when they “die?” How did they become angels in the first place? In the end, we don’t really find out the answer to any of those questions. We don’t even find out how the ending was allowed to happen or the details of what actually happened to make it possible! I was left with so many questions that will never get answers, and that frustrated the heck out of me!
“Evey, next time, in the next life we’ll be together—that’s how this will be corrected. This will be righted. This can’t be our forever fate. Next time we’ll live together, we’ll die together. We’ll experience every war together, inside ourselves and outside in the world. We won’t be out of reach, unavailable, unattainable, just love longing to be. Let’s keep moving fast in opposite directions. Keep praying we meet on the other side. I’ll see you there; I know I will. I have to believe that. Watch for me. I’ll be barreling toward you, arms wide open, and then we’ll crash into each other with the force of two spent lives yearning to be one.”
Overall, I enjoyed Lucian Devine, but I wanted more from it. The story grabbed me right away, and I read the whole book in one sitting. I was invested in the characters, and their relationship immediately. The story warmed my heart and broke it, then put it back together again. I wanted to rate this book four stars, but as I started writing this, I realized it is more like a three.
Would I recommend this book to others? If you like paranormal romance or are a fan of Renee Carlino’s work, I still think you should give this a try. You may find that you aren’t bothered by the same things that I am, and even if you are, that you enjoy it anyway. The majority of reviews I have seen rated this 4 or 5 stars.
“Isn’t love supposed to be easy? Isn’t love supposed to be fun? The moment you fall in love, you become acutely aware of all the different ways the person you love can die. It’s sickening. It’s morbid and painful and heart-wrenching, and it’s all totally worth it.”
Will I read more of the author’s work? Absolutely.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com