Johnnie (Siphon #1), Cardeno C
Publisher: The Romance Authors, LLC
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Shifters – Lions, Contemporary, Series, Interracial
Length: 56,233 Words
Reviewer: Kazza K
A Premier lion shifter, Hugh Landry dedicates his life to leading the Berk pride with strength and confidence. Hundreds of people depend on Hugh for safety, success, and happiness. And at over a century old, with more power than can be contained in one body, Hugh relies on a Siphon lion shifter to carry his excess force.
When the Siphon endangers himself and therefore the pride, Hugh must pay attention to the man who has been his silent shadow for a decade. What he learns surprises him, but what he feels astounds him even more.
Two lions, each born to serve, rely on one another to survive. After years by each other’s side, they’ll finally realize the depth of their potential, the joy in their passion, and a connection their kind has never known.
The Berk Pride has a Premier lion shifter as their leader, Hugh. He was born in 1912, making him pretty darn old, and he’s been the leader of the pride for approximately seventy years. Under his leadership they have grown – they are prosperous, large at around two thousand shifters in the pride, and they have incorporated at least one other pride into theirs a decade ago. It was at that time they took possession of a rare Siphon lion shifter, he was the weaker pride’s bargaining chip. The Siphon takes the extra energy that the Premier outputs, keeping him performing at his optimum and keeping him alive. A Premier having a Siphon is a high-octane booster and together they can be immortal. Not a whole lot is known about the dynamics of the Premier/Siphon relationship. What they do believe is that when a Siphon dies, so does the Premier. It’s not fully known what happens if they are separated by much distance. So it’s incredibly important that the Siphon be bubble wrapped, kept alive, and next to the Premier. Unfortunately, nobody talks to the Siphon or takes their needs into account, other than they are there for the Premier and, via that, the pride.
At the beginning of Johnnie, Hugh’s Siphon tries to hang himself. The inner sanctum are angry because this puts their Premier and, by the very nature of that act, the whole pride in peril. It also weakens the Premier’s credibility because if people know that his Siphon is suicidal, then all stability starts to break down. Other pride’s may challenge, people within may react badly. In other words, nobody in a happy and prosperous pride – which Berk is – wants that kind of knock-on effect. But no one knows the Siphon and what the reasons behind the attempted hanging are.
“Hanged himself?” Hugh repeated in surprise.
“Why would he do that?”
The blank stares around him indicated that nobody had considered the question let alone determined the answer.
Hugh is a fair leader if not totally oblivious to the person closest to him. He is busy running the affairs of the Berk Pride and the lion shifters to worry about much else, and that includes his Siphon. Plus these lion shifters have a lot of group sex. It’s natural to be naked, it’s natural to seek a release in other pride members – all genders. Hugh normally takes part because it is a release his body needs, but there is nobody he has a connection to. The lions don’t work along the lines of human love, it’s more about the mechanics and procreation. (If you are a monogamy only reader, there is no cheating in this book.)
Johnnie is a lonely, isolated and lost shifter/Siphon. He reads and is observant and knowledgeable because he does both of these things well. And Johnnie is incredibly guileless and loveable. When Hugh realises he needs to know a bit more about his Siphon, things change up. Watching Johnnie interact with Hugh and seeing him connect and bring walls down is just so darn nice. Maybe I’m easily pleased, but the fact that he purrs is adorable. It also has an interesting side effect which I would have liked explored more.
Once Hugh starts getting a clue, he discovers that the Siphon, his Siphon – Johnnie – is sweet, smart, caring, and virginal. You just want others to notice him and care in return. You want Hugh with him, caring, loving him. Let’s face it, it’s not terribly nice to be an irrelevancy, or simply an add-on to another person’s life. But you know things will change.
I liked that Hugh is a big black man, and a black lion when he shifts, and Johnnie isn’t – there is not enough interracial loving in gay romance, not that this is made a big deal of, but it’s nice to see. I would have liked the story set in Africa, somewhere where they have lions, but these lions celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving, so… that kind of played on my mind while reading. But at the end of the day it is a paranormal-shifter romance, so you jump in for the ride and escapism.
I liked Johnnie. It’s trademark Cardeno C – sweet, sexy, easy reading with one protagonist who starts off somewhat annoying, one who is very sweet and wins over the oblivious one. There is my must-have ‘mine’ used – I need mine in para-shifter romance…I look for it. There is some minor drama via antagonists which helps drive the story without detracting from the romance. Hugh wakes up and comes to the party in the loving stakes for Johnnie…and life is a happy and nice place, ahhh. I have to say this book was needed by me over the weekend and if you’re looking for something to pick you up too, Johnnie is just the novella to do that. 4 Stars!