A blog dedicated to my opinion on books

Friday, July 19, 2013

“Goddess of Spring” by P.C. Cast

Title: "Goddess of Spring”
Author: P.C. Cast
Publisher: Berkley
Year: 2004
Genre(s): paranormal romance
Part of a Series: Yes, 2nd book

Prior books: “Goddess of the Sea”

Why I read it: Because the sample included in “Goddess of the Sea” looked good.

Synopsis: Carolina “Lina” Santoro owns her own bakery, her lifelong dream. But bad accounting has left her in debt to the IRS and she could lose her beloved business. So she tries to find some new recipes to try to boost business. One book requires a prayer to the goddess Demeter and Lina ends up meeting the goddess in person. Well, sort of. She finds out she has swapped bodies with Demeter’s beloved daughter Persephone. The young goddess will save Lina’s bakery while Demeter sends Lina-as-Persephone down to the Underworld, to Hades’ realm. Demeter explains that the dead need a goddess to boost morale. Lina goes down and soon finds herself falling for the god of the dead. Will their romance blossom or wither away?

Review: I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: The problems I had with “Goddess of the Sea” are fixed here but the things I liked about it are gone as well.

This book is more of a straight-up romance than its predecessor. The relationship between Lina and Hades propels the plot and is central to the story. And it isn’t like the relationship in “Goddess of the Sea,” where CC and Dylan have a few conversations before it’s just all sex all the time. This time, Cast builds the relationship between Lina and Hades. The reader is drawn in and gets invested in their story.

Hades is a great romantic leading man, with one quibble on my part. In many ways, he’s the typical leading man: tall, dark, handsome and brooding. Yet there is still something that draws the reader to him. He is a powerful god who commands his realm yet is a recluse who doesn’t socialize much with the other gods. They don’t understand him and he feels separate from them. Which leads me to my one quibble: P.C. Cast woobifies Hades in this aspect. He talks about feeling different from the gods and therefore doesn’t have affairs with the goddesses for this reason. But not because he finds them silly or incapable of having a serious relationship. No, because they made him feel like the awkward kid at a middle school dance. Otherwise, he is strong yet beloved by his subjects.

In this book, Cast does a better job of creating a setting than in the first book. Perhaps its because this one seems to be pure paranormal romance rather than a paranormal/historical hybrid and so Cast had to create the Underworld. She does a wonderful job describing a place of macabre beauty. Cast does not rely on blacks alone—she uses purples and whites and her descriptions are vivid enough to paint a picture in the reader’s mind.

Ms. Cast puts some new spins on Greek mythology, especially the one about Orpheus and Eurydice. The latter is one of the main secondary characters and is quite interesting. The same cannot be said for the secondary characters which surround Lina in Oklahoma. Perhaps because she didn’t spend too much time there, Cast did not wish to develop the characters past stereotypes?

There are a few reasons why this book doesn’t have the same rating as its predecessor. One is the lack of tension. I realized two-thirds into the book I was still waiting for the story to really begin. The romance was not enough on its own to push us through to the end, in my opinion. And the lack of tension also ties in with the second reason the rating is lower: our heroine, Lina. She…well…she has no character arc. Nor does she have something to overcome. She is just there to have a relationship with Hades.

And that in and of itself could’ve been a problem for her to overcome. We are told Lina is divorced and her marriage did not end well. And her love life was pretty much stalled. So her own cynicism toward romance could’ve been an obstacle. Or more of an obstacle. Cast tries to tell us Lina is cynical and has sworn off love rather than show it. In face, we see nothing of her love life. Only about her bakery, which plays no real part in the book. Lina doesn’t learn a lesson which will help her save the bakery. She doesn’t even save the bakery. Persephone does. Lina just has to continue doing what Persephone did.

In “Goddess of the Sea,” CC-as-Undine pretended to have amnesia to explain anything she might not know. In this book, Lina-as-Persephone has a deus-ex-machina in her head. If she needs to know something, a little voice tells her. So there is another obstacle removed. Nothing to raise suspicions in anyone’s mind. No one to butt heads with. She needed someone to struggle with, someone who was suspicious. Just something to raise the stakes and give the reader some reason to root for Lina. Just being the main character isn’t enough.

Left to my own devices, I could rant about Lina all day. How much of a Mary-Sue she is, how ridiculous her “special gift” with animals is, etc. But I did all of that in my Goodreads review.

Bottom Line: Good read for Hades, but the main character just won’t hold you.

Moonlight Musing

Have you ever read a story where you realized there was no tension, no stakes?

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