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review 2014-03-27 03:05
Absolutely Unexpected
Goddess of Spring - P.C. Cast

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~

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review 2014-03-24 06:59
Underwear is Unavailable in the Underworld
The Surrender of Persephone - Selena Kitt

Adult review for erotic content. Trigger Warning : Dubious Consent.

"Aidon, are you trying to recapture your youth with nubile young virgins? What's next, a new red chariot?"

The first thing you should know : Surrender of Persephone is PwP (Porn Without Plot) erotica. Here's where I pull out my apples-to-apples genre rating comparison because I'm only rating this compared to other PwP, not other "stories" in general. Now, PwP doesn't necessarily mean that there is no plot at all; what it generally means is that there is a higher ratio of sex to plot than a normal romance or mainstream erotica. In the case of Surrender, I consider the book to be one long rolling sex scene with some cool mythology references thrown in. Even though the story itself is sparse, the author still brought her own unique spin on the Hades/Persephone tale. If you've read into the darker tones of the myth involving the kidnap and conquering of Persephone, then you might understand why the author chose to take her story down the BDSM path.

His eyes glowed in the dimness, and he had a small, satisfied smile on his face. "You like the struggle, don't you?"

Now, as far as PwP goes, it's no secret that if I'm in the mood for it, I'll generally pick up Selena Kitt. Why? Because I like the way she writes sex. This woman writes sex how it feels, smells, sounds, etc. taking the reader to a place where it's not hard to imagine being there in the story.

In true Kitt fashion, there's always going to be a scene or two that runs over-the-top. In this case, the story's very first sex scene starts with spoiled little Persephone frolicking and engaging in a very giggly threesome with Artemis and Athena, sure to please any man's barely legal lesbian fantasies. 

They roll, tumble, twist their bodies in every position imaginable as three young, nubile young ladies get each other off over...and over...and over...

Yeah. I smile with amusement because it's kind of hot, in spite of how the girl-on-girl scenes in Kitt's books tend to run toward "oops, did I spill something on my see-through shirt?" kind of a blatant hook.

So I read through the "come on in!" intro and waited for the main event to happen - the appearance of Hades (translated to Aidon here) and his kidnapping of Persephone. Because that's when everything is going to change from giggly play to dark and dirty deeds.

"I will be the instrument of your greatest pain and pleasure."

Yep. That's where we're going. And clothing isn't optional - it's completely forbidden. 


The sound of his palm biting her flesh made a resounding slap and she bit her lip, trying not to cry out. 

"I will be your sun...your moon...

Your day...your night..."

Persephone felt the impact vibrating through her. 

"Your heaven...your hell..."

Sure, there were cheesy sex terms aplenty. But I forgive some of it with Kitt's writing because I like the overall result. 

And for the glaring lack of plot, the mythology was surprisingly well-done. Each character's position and how they related to the Underworld was tied back to the actual mythology. The names weren't just thrown out there; each character was a fleshed-out representation of the god or being they were named after (well except for Athena and Artemis because they were just the barely-legal candy to get the party started). 

And I LOVED that Hephastus was put to good use making epic sex toys. This was never covered during my read of Percy Jackson (it was a joke, people - don't freak out). 

Do I have any Complaints? It's probably the usual one for books like these. I prefer my PwP to be shorter in length, if I'm going to read simply for titillation's (I can't even write this word without laughing) sake. It's always sort of strange to start a steamy read before bed, then find that you need to break and pick up the second half the next night. It's much more enjoyable if you can tackle the entire thing in one shot before drifting off to sleep and possibly some interesting dreams.

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