Necromancer Calian has walked the earth for more than eighteen millennia. Despite having had his share of lovers, no one has ever sparked a desire to bond…until he meets college students Gage Hawkins and Flynn Hamilton. Both young men are competitive members of the wrestling team at a college in downtown New York and either one can give exactly the kind of sexual energy that Calian requires as he fulfills his duties as necromancer: meting out justice to mortals cursed for being wickedly selfish. Calian just never imagined he’d fall so fast or hard for both Gage and Flynn.
Flynn comes from a wealthy family and has the posh penthouse apartment to prove it. But with the money comes an obligation to get a top-notch education that will make him a useful future employee to the family accounting business that he is set to inherit. Even with a gruelling course load, Flynn makes time to be captain of the wrestling team. In fact, it is his incredible size and muscles that make him the perfect fit for the role. Those muscles also draw the attention of his teammate Gage. The sheer masculinity Flynn represents pings Gage’s bisexual side like few men ever have. After a chance meeting away from the wrestling mat leads to the two spending time together, Gage and Flynn discover the other is queer—and very interested. Unfortunately, they quickly learn both of them are strictly tops. Which is why it is an incredible stroke of luck that they meet the blindingly attractive Calian who is, luckily enough, a strict bottom. Neither Flynn nor Gage can turn down the offer of a night of passion, but when they learn the truth about who and what Calian is, the threesome will have some tough questions to tackle if they hope to have more than a single night of fun between the sheets.
The Necromancer and the Men who Love Him is a contemporary paranormal story set in downtown New York. The book’s title, the blurb, and even the way Gage and Flynn independently encounter Calian make it abundantly clear that these three will wind up in a polyamorous type of relationship. Even though the romance side of things kicks off with Flynn and Gage, it moves as smoothly as it does swiftly into a menage. Personally, I thought one of the strongest elements of this whole story was the attention paid to how these three interact. Graham balances twosome and threesome interactions between the lovers well enough that I never felt like anyone was a third wheel at any point in the relationship.
The only imbalance I perceived in the intercharacter relationships was in how Gage and Flynn seemed cut out from the darker aspects of Calian’s life as a necromancer. I felt like there was a pretty significant disconnect between Calian’s necromancer duties, which basically have him going around killing people who somehow got cursed, and his intense relationship with the wrestlers. Specifically, there are multiple scenes of Calian alone administering his necromancer justice to “balance the universe,” but at no point do Gage or Flynn ever seem to become privy to this aspect of Calian’s work. This side of Calian was further frustrating because I never really understood how or why he was the judge of who deserves to die. In one case, Calian goes to kill a person who was cursed by his own mother—but the mother didn’t just curse her murderous son, she cursed his children and grandchildren. Calian points all this out and acknowledges that it’s unfair for the kids and grandkids to be cursed and subsequently be killed by Calian along with their dad, but he nevertheless does it because… justice? This whole aspect of Calian and his job seems largely kept absent from Calian’s interactions with Gage and Flynn. The two college kids only really seem to know/learn that Calian also sometimes expels restless spirits, though it seems like a minor part of what Calian is capable of.
The romance between the three characters unfolds in stages. Gage and Flynn are both introduced separately. During these individual introductions, we learn that Gage is bisexual, though he tends to prefer sex with women, and that Flynn is gay. Both seem to harbor a secret attraction to the other, though it never amounted to anything despite spending like three years wrestling together at school. Once they finally meet up on page in the book, it’s a breakneck race to getting them into the sack, but that aspect of their relationship was glossed over on page; readers only get a recap after the fact. This same sort of “broad strokes” writing seems to permeate all the scenes between the lovers. It feels rather at odds given that there is a pedantic level of detail written about inconsequential story elements, like how many drops of a potion are needed to make a murder work. I also thought this “and they talked all night” quality to the writing was a huge disservice to the one plot element—Calian’s magic not being at his beck and call when he needs it—that had the potential to build some delicious angst and/or hurt/comfort between the threesome.
Overall, I got the impression that this story is trying to be more than just a bit of erotica between a necromancer and a couple of humans. However, it suffers from the paranormal equivalent of “glue some gears on it and call it steampunk.” The hyperfocus on inconsequential details that never seem to directly affect the characters or their action seemed to leave less space to actually enjoy the characters grappling with any of these qualities about the world they are inhabiting. If you like mostly fluffy get togethers and anything paranormal, I think you’ll still enjoy this story. There’s more text to bite into than a simple short story, but not quite enough to make for a super compelling read.