has also reviewed:

Cupid's Darts

Cupid's Mistake

The Reluctant Cavalier

The Vampire Viscount

Cupid's Kiss by Karen Harbaugh
(Signet, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-451-19535-3
Fans who have read the first two installments of Karen Harbaugh's trilogy about the loves of the Hathaway family in Regency England will want to pick up the Cupid's Kiss as soon as possible to find out exactly how the relationship between Psyche Hathaway and her childhood friend Harry D'Amant works out.

Those who are unfamiliar with Cupid's Mistake and Cupid's Darts should know that Harry is a most unusual friend. In reality, he is the god Eros, come to early 19th century England in search of his beloved wife, Psyche. The once mortal Psyche had left her husband because of his godly arrogance. Now, unless the two are united, the Olympian gods will fade away and the world will descend into chaos. Indeed, the unseasonably cold weather of the spring of 1816 suggests that the gods' power is already diminishing.

Eros first came across Psyche Hathaway when she was a child and was drawn to the lively and lovely young redhead. Indeed, his actions played a huge role in the romances of Psyche's sister and brother. Now Psyche is a young lady of almost twenty with two seasons behind her. She has had ten proposals but accepted none of the men who sought her hand. None could measure up to her dear friend "Harry" and Psyche will not marry where she does not love.

After a year's absence, Harry reenters Psyche's life. He has been informed that the Delphic oracle has warned that he has only one more year to find his missing wife. His senses tell him that she is in London, that she is near. And so he enlists Psyche Hathaway's aid to find the woman he has searched for a thousand years.

Now, you may ask, doesn't it occur to either Eros or Psyche H. that she might be the real Psyche, especially since Psyche H. is in love with her "Harry" and since "Harry" clearly loves her too? Actually, this question becomes the major factor driving the plot. Eros is convinced that his erstwhile wife will remember him; after all, she was made an immortal all those centuries ago. But Psyche Hathaway was clearly born two decades earlier and she has no memories of a past life. So, whatever the two may feel for each other, clearly they are duty-bound to find the real Psyche, thus saving both the gods and the human race.

When a book is part of a series, there is always the question of how well it stands alone. Frankly, since I read both previous books, it is impossible for me to judge whether Cupid's Kiss succeeds as a stand-alone book. I can say that my enjoyment of the book was clearly enhanced by the fact that I had read its two predecessors.

Karen Harbaugh is the most successful author of what I guess we must call "Paranormal Regencies." Her "Cupid" trilogy demonstrates her mastery of the sub-subgenre. Eros is a great creation; his mischievous nature remains on display, even while he is masquerading as a Regency gentleman. Psyche Hathaway is loving and lovable, as well as wise beyond her years. Her amusing parents continue to amuse and characters from the first two books make cameo appearances.

Harbaugh plays with the relationship between the immortals and the mortals still further by introducing a romance between Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, and Lord Eldon, an erstwhile suitor of our Psyche. Artemis has refused to love again after the tragic death of her lover Orion. Thanks to Cupid, she discovers both the joys and the pain of love.

If you like "Paranormal Regencies" or if you have read and enjoyed the first two installments in Harbaugh's "Cupid" trilogy, you will definitely want to read Cupid's Kiss. If you usually take your Regencies straight but are interested is expanding your horizons, Harbaugh's books are the place to start. Her plots are interesting, her characters are fully developed and likable, and in this case, her take on ancient Greek mythology is highly entertaining. Nobody does this kind of Regency better than Karen Harbaugh.

--Jean Mason

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