For four millennia, Shepherd, Angel of Repentance, and Jefischa, Angel of the Fourth Hour of Dark, have worked as a team to provide heavenly assistance to those who call their names. Shepherd’s work has made him dark and dour, but he’s determined to protect Jefischa from all of the terrible pain the mortal world has to offer. Now an accident of divine politics has put Adrian, a twice-dead vampire, in heaven, and angels have been falling to Earth to engage in forbidden activities ever since. Shepherd doesn’t know how, and he doesn’t know why, but he’s heaven-bent on keeping the impressionable Jefischa out of Adrian’s clutches. But how is it that someone who was supposedly not human can teach two angels so much about the best of humanity? And how is it that—as long as he has Jefi by his side—no duty on earth or in heaven is as pleasurable as guarding the vampire’s ghost?
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Guarding is both a stand alone novella and another in the Little Goddess series. The story only deals with the m/m portion so that should appeal to that particular audience while giving enough scenes to Adrien and his lovers to please the followers of the ménage series. It mostly works on both levels but I’ve found this straddling the line to be less than satisfying personally. I wish the stories either didn’t include those characters or were solely about them. Including them as secondary characters feels unfinished and unsatisfying.
The story is about two angels, Shepard and Jefi, who are assigned to guard Adrien while in heaven. As the only vampire in history to be allowed admittance to the antechamber, the angels have no idea what to do with Adrien’s soul. His previous watcher angels have fallen from heaven to live as humans and now the next two are dubious about their assignment. As Shepard and Jefi discuss the possibility of falling themselves, Adrien is still haunted by his lovers’ grief over his death.
Told in third person from Shepard’s point of view, GtVG offers a nice look at how Adrien has coped with his death. That seems a bit redundant, he –is- dead but his soul is now in the waiting room to heaven. The exact time that’s passed is not clear since Adrien mentions being in heaven for 2 human years and later says it’s been a few months since his death. I’m not sure if this is a consistency error or meant to show time moves differently. The inclusion of Adrien however is a good nod to the Little Goddess series and fans will love the peek at Adrien’s anguish and continued love. There’s a hot sex scene between Adrien and Green that advances Shepard and Jefi’s relationship but also shows the depth of the former’s love for each other.
Those that are familiar with the characters will eat up this addition while I feel somewhat disconnected. Since I haven’t read the LG series, Adrien feels unfinished and disjointed. Obviously his character develops over the series and while this can be read as a stand alone, the continued characters feel incomplete. I unfortunately couldn’t appreciate the depths of his pain, sorrow, and love and instead wished the story hadn’t included any reference to the other series at all. Adrien’s storyline clearly is meant to progress the LG series as well so I’m not sure of the reasoning in adding the stand alone characters to the series.
On the other hand I really enjoyed Shepard and Jefi as angels who have worked together forever and are finally finding reasons to give up heaven and be human. Their connection is sweet and although the concept of not having bodies but only energies didn’t fully work (sometimes they had hands and other times it was just energy and back again), some of the images are very charming. I really like the idea of the two gradually appearing and becoming more human as their emotions become more real. The twist at the end with Peter is very sweet and romantic, especially the feathered wings.
Overall this is a decent offering from Lane. The writing is good even though it tries very hard in some spots and the opening sentence is a tongue twister. The characters are filled with life, charm, and bittersweet complexity. I like that nothing is easy and that the light comes with dark. For those fans of the LG series, this is a must read. For those that don’t mind the straddling of a series and stand alone, this could please.
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