Testament to Love - Ariel Tachna
2.5 Stars

An angel is bored. Hard to believe given they live to serve The One, yet for Emmanuel the truth remains: he cannot muster up the same joy he once had in the heavenly realms. When he is sent to earth to bring a soul back to grace, and back to the joy of serving The One, it is no surprise that his mission goes awry. Sent to search for the missing angel, two others stumble upon a broken man—the very one Emmanuel was sent to help. And the cause of his brokenness? The loss of a man he has grown to love, Emmanuel. Now, it comes to light that perhaps the greatest sin an angel can embrace has happened. Emmanuel has fallen in love…with a human.

In every story we read there is the need for a certain degree of willingness on the part of the reader to suspend their disbelief. After all, it is fact that we are indulging in fiction, romance, and sometimes realms that may not even exist. We do so willingly to be entertained, and the degree to which we agree to park our cynicism at the door and embark on the adventure varies with each novel we read. I was good with the idea that this story by Ariel Tachna would indeed be centered on the idea of a greater being and his angels. I was additionally willing to believe that angels could come among us and help us—lead us back to this place of grace where we could have renewed faith in something greater than ourselves. However, I felt the story was just a bit too sweet, too neatly resolved, and the idea that a human could so completely buy into the idea he had fallen in love with an angel, at least this rather bitter, cynical human? That is where the story fell apart for me.

Emmanuel was very convincing as a heavenly being torn by the idea that he would only ever be a shadow to the humans he was sent to help. I felt his story was well drawn and believable, that he could step away from the heavenly realms and feel the need to have something more in his life. However, the man he is sent to bring back to grace, Cameron Anderson, is another story. Here is a man who has lost everything. His wife has taken their two daughters far away and apparently in a sweeping settlement, not only took away nearly all his visitation rights but his money as well. So, this budding artist is bound to work soul-sucking jobs painting other’s homes, and loses his desire to paint from his heart. He is a bitter, broken man and when Emmanuel arrives under the guise of a homeless young man needing help, Cameron’s true nature comes forth and he takes this stranger in.

This part of the short story worked well, and I felt it was a solid premise. However, there were so many unanswered questions. When exactly did Cameron switch teams? Was he bisexual or a closeted gay man? What went wrong for such a severe edict to be handed down on this man’s life that prevented him from seeing his children? The questions seemed endless. And remained unanswered. Then there was the real fear that Emanuel would become part of the fallen—the other team that had been thrown out of heaven. After all, rather than bringing Cameron back into a worship and love of The One he had allowed Cameron to fall in love with him, and had fallen in return. This was grounds for expulsion. Yet, that is not exactly what happened in the end.

I felt Testament to Love had a nice premise and potential to be a sweet romance. While there were moments in it that rang true and were palatable, the overall feeling I came away with was rather so-so. I simply could not suspend enough of my disbelief to buy into the idea that angels abound and can be content with returning to an earthbound status so easily. I needed to see more turmoil and, forgive me, soul searching from both these characters.

description