|Who would ever believe that Love is lonely? That's the story P.C. Cast is telling in Goddess of Love, the latest in her Goddess Summoning novels.
In this fantasy universe, Venus is the goddess of love, beauty and erotic sex. Her marriage to Vulcan, the god of forges and fires, is platonic, and neither are very satisfied with it. After Persephone tells Venus that modern men (and in particular those in Tulsa, Oklahoma) will treat her as their equal, Venus decides to try them out for herself. In Tulsa she runs into Pea.
Pea has always been invisible where good-looking men are concerned. Take Griffin, the sexy fireman who lives down her block. After three introductions he still can't remember her name. When Venus realizes she is trapped on the Tulsa side of the earth-Mount Olympus portal, she decides to give Pea a make-over. She would be more eager to give her lessons in seduction if she weren't so hot for Griffin.
Fortunately for Venus, someone else has his eyes on Pea: Vulcan. He has followed his wife to earth and leaps on the lovers' merry-go-round. It takes self-examination, Olympian intervention, not to mention some hot bedroom action to sort out this tangled web of mismatched couples. I don't want to reveal exactly how everything is resolved, but I would mention that Cast pulls an authorial sleight-of-hand to ensure everyone is happy. It's a little hard to swallow, but not entirely out of keeping with the fantasy world.
All four lead characters are charming and delightful. With their perfect bodies and sexy looks, Griffin and Venus could easily have been quite superficial. Cast avoids this by giving him an overbearing if loving women-only family. Venus's loneliness and her search for someone who genuinely likes her provides her with credible and even moving vulnerabilities. Still, I was more touched by Vulcan and Pea, who as outsiders have understandable self-esteem problems. It was nice to see these kind-hearted but ignored souls find someone who genuinely appreciates them.
Cast must be the Goddess of Humor. It's been a while since I've enjoyed such a breezy style and come across so many laugh-out-loud moments. Venus's attempt to give Tulsa firemen a lesson in relaxation had me in stitches. Her creative curses are also a lot of fun.
So why not a stronger rating? Well, although the scenes work well individually, they have a slightly repetitive feel. I also have a quibble with a rather minor point. Cast takes some liberties with classical mythology. This is all in good fun, but I never got over the fact that Venus is presented here as the goddess of love. I've always heard it was her son Cupid (also known as Amor, Eros and/or Psyche). This discrepancy curtailed my complete identification with the characters.
In the end, however, the humor slapped down my inner schoolmistress. Goddess of Love may not get you through mythology 101, but this comic modern spin on a classical story is perfect summertime entertainment.