Marc has low standards. Some of his best dates began in bathrooms, after all, but this one takes the cake. He’s been dreaming about meeting a prince charming, but what is he going to do when one suddenly appears in front of him in Sotheby’s bathroom? When angels interfere in mortal lives, everything takes a turn for the magical, when a red headed Christmas cupid decides to play matchmaker.
Marc is a curator for the British Museum and has been ordered to make a bid on a particular lot, only to be outdone when Prince Raphael-Alessandro Milland of Montaunoit decides he wants the lot for himself. But something in the young man caught the prince’s eye, and soon Marc finds himself with an invitation to serve as Chief Curator for the Royal House of Berneaux in the Kingdom of Montaunoit, where he will be serving side by side with Raphael.
A humble, unassuming journal turns out to be a clue regarding the mysterious illness that caused one of Montaunoit’s princes to renounce the throne hundreds of years ago. It seems that he had the same illness as Raphael. Fortunately for Marc and Raphael, there’s someone watching out for them. Both men start seeing the glimpse of red hair and hearing a strange, lovely voice urging them to follow their hearts and find love. Will they listen in time?
This story is part of the Christmas Angel collection, which involves standalone stories by various authors about people finding love with the help of a carven wooden angel. And, like most books involving Christmas, it must be taken with a generous pinch of sugar to get you in the holiday season.
Marc has had some tumultuous relationships in his past, but no one has affected him like Raphael does. It’s not just that Raphael is a prince, or gorgeous, or whisks him away to a magical kingdom where Marc’s love for history can be sated with centuries of journals and artifacts, where he can walk down the picturesque streets and through ancient castle walls. Raphael is also a kindred spirit. Both of them love history, and not just the dry parts of it. They’re both fascinated by the people who lived normal, mundane lives as well as by the great kings and queens who made history.
Raphael has lived all his life in a bubble. Everything he does or says is caught on camera; every action he takes reflects not just on himself, but on his family, and his people. He has no real friends except his bodyguard, and as much as he loves his family, it’s hard getting them all together in one place at one time because of duty, engagements, and diplomatic events. In Marc, Raphael finds a potential friend as well a potential lover, and he has no intention of letting this moment slip past him, not even if it means making up a position and bribing the young man to come halfway across the world and live with him.
This is a Christmas story and so should be read with two things in mind: It’s fluff. There is absolutely no substance to this story. It’s just a love story between two men with a happily ever after. There is no angst, drama, intricate world building, or detailed character driven stories. We read these stories because they’re fun, because they’re teeth-rottingly sweet, and sometimes we just want a cute fairy tale to curl up with.
However, for me, some details took me completely out of the story. The author states that the kingdom of Montaunoit is three quarters of a square mile. It has wineries, an ocean harbor, and pastureland for cows, as well as a population of seventeen thousand. Three quarters of a square mile is 120 acres. That’s roughly the size of a hobby vineyard, or a very small ranch. There is no way it supports that many people on that little land. It’s a small detail, but it’s one that I couldn’t ignore. The smallest kingdom in the real world is 1.9 square miles and has a population of 57. The kingdom of Monaco, on which Montaunoit is loosely based, is almost 500 acres, and while it boasts many wonders, pastureland and wineries aren’t among them. I just wish the author hadn’t put in the numbers. They weren’t needed, and for me, they ruined the immersion. It’s a small thing and it’s entirely persona, and it’s a nit-pick more than a complaint.
The writing is good, though the pacing does seem to dawdle a little as the author takes the time to give details about the kingdom of Montaunoit and its history, which leaves little time to develop the relationship between Marc and Raphael beyond the physical. While I believe in the instant attraction — Marc seems to push all of Rapahel’s buttons over and over — I’m not certain Marc would have entered into the relationship so quickly if it weren’t for the nudging of the angel.
Again, reality isn’t what this book is about. It’s about romance and two men coming together with the sweet, sappiness of true love. It’s a perfect Christmas book if you like sugar, spice, and everything nice.