How wonderful is it to find a book about soul-mates where the coupling is actually focused on two people loving the soul of another person, and not about two people being brought together by some sort of instant connection?
Before I go into what I really liked, two other things :
1. The amount of Batman references were horrible. And annoying. Repetitive gushing - STOP IT. Besides, when is cape wearing a "romance hero thing?"
2. While I did sigh heavily at mentions of the street cats organization, animal affinities with cat/horses, the Tulsa location, and the close-knit relationship between the female lead and her grandmother (all things repeatedly mentioned in other Cast books), outside of those few things, I would have never known this book came from the author of the HoN train wreck. Apparently, there are still some things in this world which can surprise me.
Now, I will commence with the good stuff :
This story is about a 40 something woman named Lina who is running a struggling bakery. She stumbles upon a recipe with a spell attached and (stupidly) does the spell in a plea for help.
Demeter answers the plea and offers a solution : switch bodies for 6 months with her daughter Persephone, Goddess of Spring. Basically - go to the underworld and hook up with Hades, so her daughter didn't have to.
Lina (again, stupidly) goes along with it, and in the process, inherits a youthful, nubile appearance which isn't her own true self.
Yes, stupidly. But this one time, I don't care as much about "stupidly" as I usually do because I loved the multiple messages of this story :
1. Friendship and bonds with other women are something to be celebrated.
2. Kindness can break down walls.
3. People are rarely what they seem on the outside (this went both ways for Persephone and Hades).
4. Real love is about more than physical attraction or outward beauty.
Outside of the first few awkward chapters (I thought I wasn't going to like the book before Lina got to the underworld), the story flowed from one scene to the next, pulling me along in wonder. From Lina bonding with Orion the dreadsteed, to Lina helping Hades make narcissus bloom, I had a happy little smile pasted on my face as I read.
This is the type of adult fairy tale that I love.
There was a little bit of everything. I appreciated the positive messages, I felt a little emotional over the scene with the soul-mate spirits at the river, I relished the steamy scenes, I laughed at a few light-hearted moments, and I even felt a couple of tears leak out as the story came to a close.
What would the Lord of the Dead do if he knew he had wooed, not the Goddess of Spring, but a middle-aged baker from the mortal world?
Rarely, do I even get excited over hot guy descriptions in romance anymore. Most of them are all the same and nothing new. But even I had a bit of a "hot damn" moment when it came to the scene with Hades working at the forge. My personal notes written in the book at that scene : FFS, I don't usually get worked up like this.
I wasn't sure if this would be a spoiler or not, but since it's not a huge plot point, I'll add it. I loved how Hades wanted to learn how best to please Persephone/Lina. It wasn't that he was inexperienced, but he knew that in order to be the right lover for her, he would need to learn her as she was, and not based on other experiences. It was a refreshing change from romance novel men who cockily think they know how to set every woman on fire. The intimate scenes between Hades and Persephone were tender and sincere, much more so than I've read in many books. Yet, he still had his "shake the ground with anger" type of wicked god moments, so it wasn't all about breaking every stereotype of his persona. The balance was lovely.
"Teach me how to set you afire, too."
I'm not sure if this will be the book for everyone, but if you've been reading a lot of the same types of romance novels over and over, you might consider giving Goddess of the Spring a try. This is one of those books which could appeal to all ages, but I think would be special to women over 30. It really celebrates being a woman and becoming your own unique form of beautiful, even if you're not young and perfect looking. Just speed through the first few weird chapters (and pretend Lina doesn't make 50 Batman fangirl references) and it will get better.
~Lina as Persephone~