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Thursday, August 18, 2011


Author:  Stephanie Julian
Plot Type: Erotic SMR
Ratings:  V5; S5; H2
Publisher and Titles:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
     What a Goddess Wants (2011)
     How to Worship a Goddess (12/2011)
     "Cat's First Kiss" (e-novella, 4/2012)
     Goddess in the Middle (7/2012)     

     This blog post was revised and updated on 10/23/12 to include a review of the third book in the series: Goddess in the Middle. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and reviews of books 1 and 2:

          BOOK 3:  Goddess in the Middle         
     The third book features a sexually athletic threesome: Amity (aka Munthukh, the Etruscan Goddess of Health) and her two lovers, Romulus (Rom) and Remus (Remy) Cangelosi, cousins who are lucani versipelli (aka Etruscan werewolves). As the story begins, Amity leaves work at the local hospital where she works as a medical aesthetician and heads for a local bar where she meets Rom and Remy. The meeting is no accident. Rom and Remy have been following Amity because they are hunting down a demon that happens to be tracking her. When the men meet Amity, though, they are so overcome with lust that thoughts of the demon are pushed temporarily to the back burner as the three get together for a night of passion. After that, they pretty much move in with her.

     The series plot remains the same as in the first two books: Charun still wants out of the Underworld, and he plans to drain Amity's powers to do just that. But another side plot is added here: It turns out that Rom and Remy are rare wolf-shifter stregone (witches) who play an important part in an Etruscan prophecy. As a result, the two men have all kinds of untapped power, which is a magnet for the Malandante (aka Mal, evil Etruscans), who are trying to capture and enslave the cousins in order to use their powers for their own nefarious deeds.

     The two plots merge late in the book, but only after pages and pages of erotic sex scenes between Amity and her men. The first one is 21 pages long, so...lots of graphic details. If you're reading the book for the story, don't try to follow the plot too closely or you'll find yourself tripping over the bumps and falling into the holes. For example, the entire story line involving a scarred young abuse victim (Perrin Winston) is stuck awkwardly into the plot for no apparent reason. I'm sure that we'll hear more about Perrin in a later book, but in this one, her presence is puzzling. If you're reading the book for the sex scenes, I think that you (like the three protagonists) will be well satisfied. 

     This is an erotic romance series that features a group of ancient Etruscan goddesses who lost their positions of power to the Roman pantheon centuries ago and have been living among mortals (aka eteri) ever since. They have formed an organization called Forgotten Goddesses of Etruria (FoGE), which allows them some minimal socialization as they look back to the good old days when they were revered by the people and their magic was still strong.

     Inexplicably, most of the surviving Estruscans—both mortal and supernatural—have settled in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding countryside. The goddesses are all living like average American mortals until Charun, God of the Underworld decides to drain a few of them or their powers to get the magical energy he needs to escape to the mortal world.

     This is boilerplate erotica, so if you're looking for a lightweight steamy romance with a mythological touch, you'll probably enjoy this series.

          BOOK 1:  What a Goddess Wants         
     In the first book, the leading lady is Thesan (aka Tessa), Goddess of the Dawn, Lady of the Golden Light. Tessa, a petite and beautiful blond, lost out to the Roman goddess of the Dawn, Aurora, and she's still bitter about that. Now that Tessa no longer controls the sunrise, she concentrates her remaining magic on her midwifery skills by assisting female supernaturals in the birth of their children.

     As the story begins, Tessa has been having nightmares about Charun, the Etruscan God of the Underworld, who escorts deceased souls to the afterlife. He has been stuck in in the Underworld for centuries, and he wants to increase his powers so that he can force his way out. If Charun can capture Tessa, he can drain her powers, thus increasing his own. Charun has already drained one of the FoGEs, and Tess doesn't want to be his second victim. Tessa's friend and ally, Salvatorus (a salbinelli, or Etruscan satyr), sends her to Caligo, a tall, dark and handsome Cimmerian warrior who hires out his warrior services. Caligo has just completed a job in which Venus hired him and then sold him out, so he's not too happy to find yet another beautiful goddess on his doorstep.

     The thin plot serves as a framework for one graphic sex scene after another, beginning moments after Tessa and Caligo meet and continuing on and on and on. No matter whether they are injured, drained of power, or under attack, there's always time for just one more. Each sex scene ratchets up the graphic action a notch, and by the time the problem with Charun is resolved, the two can barely let go of one another for an instant. Click HERE for a brief excerpt.

          BOOK 2:  How to Worship a Goddess
     In book 2Lusna (aka Lucy Aster), Goddess of the Moon, gets it on with her soul mate, Brandon ("Brand") Stevenson. Lucy is not only the moon goddess, she is also the creator of the lucani (aka werewolves), who still worship her. Lucy owns a bar just outside Reading, Pennsylvania and also provides the entertainment. She sings, while her adopted son, Caeles, accompanies her on guitar. Brandon is a professional  minor league hockey player for the Reading Railers. Lucy has been attending hockey games for years, and she and Brandon have been eyeing each other from afar, with neither following through on the mutually lustful thoughts. As the story opens, Brandon finally tracks Lucy down at her bar, and the sex begins. The sexual scenes take up about 1/4 of the book, with the first one being 14 pages long. Early on, Tessa and Caligo drop in on Lucy and Brandon to warn them that Charun is still trying to kidnap goddesses. Sure enough, one of Charun's demons shows up, but after a brief tangle with Brandon, the demon runs away. Hmmm. I wonder if Brandon might be a bit more than just a simple human. As the plot unfolds, we learn more information about the family histories of both Lucy and Brandon, and we learn just how human—or supernatural—Brandon really is. Eventually, one of Lucy's sons is placed in jeopardy by Charun's demon, and Lucy and Brandon must figure out a way to save him without sacrificing Lucy's life. This book does have a few humorous moments. For example, at one point, when Brandon discovers that Lucy's son, Tivr ("Ty"), is a god, he asks what a god does. Ty replies, "Impregnate a few mortals. Throw some thunderbolts. Change into a wolf and chase a few sheep. Not much really." (p. 113) By the end of the story, both Lucy and Brandon have gone through life-changing experiences. A glossary of Etruscan magical terms and groups is included at the beginning of the book.

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