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Tuesday, December 31, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Tes Hilaire with a review of Prince of Shadows, the  third novel in her PALADIN WARRIORS SERIES.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the updated review.

Monday, December 30, 2013



I have just updated a previous post for Gerry Bartlett with a review of Real Vampires Know Size Matters, the tenth novel in her GLORY ST. CLAIR SERIES.

Click on the pink-link series title above to go directly to the updated review.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Publisher and Titles:  Grand Central/Hachette
     Accidentally in Love with…a God? (3/13 e-novel; 10/13 paperback)
     Accidentally Married to…a Vampire? (3/13 e-novel; 11/13 paperback)
     Sun God Seeks…Surrogate? (3/13 e-novel; 2/14 paperback)
     "Accidentally…Evil?" (4/13, e-novella)
     Vampires Need Not…Apply? (9/13 e-book; 3/14 paperback)
     "Accidentally…Cimil?" (1/14, e-novella)
     Accidentally…Over? (8/14 e-book, paperback)(FINAL)   

     This post was revised and updated on 9/22/14 to include a review of Accidentally…Over?, the fifth and FINAL novel in this series. That review appears first, followed by reviews of all of the previous novels and novellas in the series.     

              5 (NOVEL): "Accidentally…Over?"               
     SPOILER ALERT! This review contains     
     spoilers for previous novels & novellas.     

     As promised, this final novel ties up the myriad of knotty story lines that have entangled the overall story arc of this series from the very beginning. It does so through the telling of the love story of Maat (aka Máax), the God of Truth, and his human soul mate, Ashli Rosewood. This God has always been a rule breaker: traveling back and forth in time, interfering in the affairs of humans as well as other gods and goddesses, and generally being a bad boy. To punish Maat, the House of Gods long ago took away his human shell, making him invisible, and changed his name from Maat to Máax, which means "Who?" in Mayan.

     As the final novel begins, Cimil and Roberto are capturing all of the gods and goddesses and imprisoning them in order to prevent them from starting the battle that will lead to doomsday. As the final step in her mysterious, crazy, disorganized plan, Cimil has a task for Máax. First, Cimil warns 
Máax that in twenty years, after a series of ten global earthquakes, "Cities topple. We go to war. Our allies and humans take sides, Everything is destroyed." (p. 12) She then claims to have had a prophetic vision in which Máax once more breaks the no-time-traveling rule by going back "a few teeny tiny decades, to 1993, find a certain chicky-boo, and make sure she doesn't croak prematurely." (p. 14) Máax's job is to watch over Ashli, who is the Chosen One—the only person who can prevent the apocalypse and save the world. Of course, Cimil holds back a number of very important details, including the fact that Ashli is Máax's soul mate. She lets him discover that himself. Before Máax heads off to complete his task, Cimil cautions him that Ashli must remain exactly where she is in time and place—1993 Mexico—and that Máax can't take any shortcuts or make any adjustments in Ashli's life because that would completely change the outcome of the prophecy. He just has to keep her alive for twenty years so that she can stop the world from ending—a simple task, right? Well…no, because Ashli appears to have a death wish.  

     Ashli runs a small cafe in a tiny Mexican coastal village where she lives in her late parents' house—actually, more of a beach shack than a house, where she wallows in misery and guilt and works her fingers to the bone. She spends her days blaming herself for her parents' deaths, mourning them deeply, and wishing that she could see them once again. At one point, Máax tells Ashli that she is an emotional hermit who lives in the past. Ashli hates change of any kind and actually would be much more comfortable in the past than in the future. When Máax arrives in Mexico, Ashli is both afraid of and attracted to this seven-foot-tall invisible man who tilts her life upside-down while simultaneously turning her into a puddle of lust, so she alternately runs away from him and gropes his sexy, transparent body. Unfortunately for Máax, Ashli keeps getting killed or nearly killed: running in front of a bus, cracking her head open on a concrete step, going into anaphylactic shock after a bee sting, choking on a bite of bread, etc. 

     Máax soon begins to believe that the Universe wants Ashli dead, but neither of them can figure out why. Here, he explains the difficulty of his task: "This was like trying to steer an oil tanker through a maze of icebergs while blindfolded. At night. Alone. While doing tequila shots and hopping on one foot." (p. 101) Eventually, Máax convinces himself that he cannot possibly keep Ashli alive for one week, much less twenty years, so he takes matters into his own rule-breaking hands, making changes in Ashli's life that alter the prophecy and leave the world (and the deities) on the brink of doomsday.

     The plot is a convoluted, silly, over-the-top mishmash of angst-filled interior monologues, nonsensical time-travel episodes, crazy Cimil ravings, and lustful encounters. Even though all of the who?-what?-why?-how? questions from the previous books are answered (mostly in a single scene near the end), this is an unsatisfying book, partly because of the anti-climactic resolution of the doomsday problem and partly because of the Cimil scenes, which never make any sense, never are funny (although they try very hard to be), and always are so idiotic that I just skip over them. Máax spends his time zipping back and forth between moronic squabbles with harebrained Cimil and romantic misunderstandings with sulky Ashli. As the end grows near, mysterious new deities enter the story, but by that time I had stopped caring what happened to any of them. 

     The whole transparent lover shtick gets old quickly. Predictably, Ashli figures out that if she covers Máax with an opaque (and sensual) liquidsay caramel syrupshe can see and touch and taste every sexy inch of his man shape (including those all-important 11 inches). P.S….Even though Máax is 70,000 years old, he's still a virgina virgin who has either read a bookshelf full of sex manuals or watched a lot of porn. 

     If you are a zealous fan of the series, you probably like Cimil a lot more than I do and will probably love this book, even with its feeble final showdown scene. For me, the climax, during which Ashli finally does her apocalypse-blocking thing, is a tiny blip—about as exciting and suspenseful as the quick blink of an eye. It's definitely not the zero-hour clash that I was anticipating after the long, drawn-out, dramatic buildup. When it happened, I stopped reading and thought, "Really? That's all you've got?" Even the somewhat interesting explanations for all of the evil deeds committed by Máax and Cimil in previous books weren't enough to make up for my disappointment in the pivotal catastrophe-avoidance scene.

    Pamfiloff is planning a new series set in the ACCIDENTALLY YOURS world: IMMORTAL MATCHMAKER, starring Cimil and Zac as matchmakers whose job it is to find mates for all of the deities who haven't yet found their HEAs. I plan to skip that series, mostly because of the presence of Cimil, my least favorite comic character in all of paranormal fiction. Sorry I can't be more objective, but Cimil sets my teeth on edge every single time she appears on the page. Click HERE to read an excerpt on this book's page. Just click on the cover art at the top of that page.

              PUBLISHING HISTORY               
      The first two novels were originally published by the author in e-book form back in 2012. Grand Central/Hachette took over publication at the end of 2012 and released the first five installments in e-book format between March and September 2013. In October and November 2013, Hachette published the first two novels in mass market paperback format, with the final three print novels scheduled for 2014. In 2014 is the second e-novella ("Accidentally…Cimil?"). and the final novel (Accidentally…Over?) will finish the series.

      This is a world in which gods, goddesses, demilords, vampires, and other supernaturals live unknown to their human neighbors. The actual home of the 14 gods and goddesses is in another realm, although as the series opens, they are all on Earth, but not by choice. The gods are assisted on Earth by the Uchben (the Mayan word meaning "ancient"), "an ancient society of scholars and warriors who serve as the gods' eyes and ears…." (from the "Glossary" included in each book). The series story arc follows the attempts of the good supernaturals to stop the Maaskab (an evil, power-mad religious cult) from triggering the apocalypse. The theme for the series is probably best stated by a character in the fourth novel: "Love is always a risk,…but a life without love is a life not worth living."

     Here are the names of most of the gods (more to be added as they turn up in the stories). Beginning with the third novel, the books and novellas contain a list of 13 of the gods and goddesses. In several cases, a god who is generally portrayed as male is a female in this series (e.g., Yum Cimil).
   > Acan: God of Wine and Intoxication; his name comes from the Mayan word for "belch."
   > Ah-Ciiliz (aka A.C.): God of Solar Eclipses
   > Akna: Goddess of Fertility
   > Backlum Chaam: God of Male Virility; comparable to the Greeks' Eros; he is the villain throughout most of the series
   > CamaxtliGoddess of the Hunt; also Goddess of War, Fate, and Fire; usually portrayed as male
   > Colel CabMistress of Bees; wears a huge bee hive on her head
   > Goddess of Forgetfulness: No one can ever remember her true name; She is comparable to the Greek goddess, Lethe
   > IxtabGoddess of Suicide
   > K'ak (aka K'ak Tiliw Chan Yopaat): ruler of the Mayan city-state of Quirigua during the mid-700 ADs; can throw lightning bolts
   > Kinich (aka Nick): the Sun God 
   > Votan (aka Guy Santiago): God of Death and War; also known as Odin, Wotan, Wodan, and the God of Drums; loves cookies and other desserts
   > Yum Cimil: Mayan Goddess of Death and Destruction (aka Yum Cimil, aka Ah-Puch)
   > Zac CimiBacab of the North: The Bacabs are the four eldest and most powerful of the gods; he has not yet discovered his true gifts, although he is physically the strongest. (Note: Most of my sources indicate that Zac Cimi is the Bacab of the West, but in the Glossary for this series, he is Bacab of the North.)
   > The god no one speaks of (aka Máax, aka  Maat): You won't learn his true identity until the fourth novel, and you won't get his entire story until the final installment.

    The male gods are extremely tall, handsome, lustful, and sexually well equipped, with golden skin, washboard abs, luxuriant hair, sexy facial stubble, and crystal clear turquoise eyes. Unfortunately, they share the infuriating traits of being controlling, arrogant, self-absorbed, overbearing, bossy, pompous, egotistical, secretive, and sneaky. All of the gods and goddesses are 70,000 years old and are all—believe it or not—virgins.

     All of the heroines (also virgins) are beautiful, curvy, well-educated, and lustful (to the point of mindlessness). Unfortunately, they, too, share a set of not-so-great personality traits as they go off alone with strange men; allow lust to overcome all common sense; pepper their conversation with unending references to 1980s TV shows; and indulge in multiple TSTL moments. Apparently, the women's behavior is supposed to be hilariously funny, but it doesn't work for me. I would have preferred a lot more depth and individualism so that they weren't all cookie-cutter airheads who allowed themselves to be completely dominated by the males in their lives.   

     The vampires in this series have descended from six Ancient Ones who were created in response to the arrogance of the original 14 gods. After they began to develop a taste for the innocents of the world, they were forced to sign a Pact with the gods in which they agreed not to harm (i.e., feed on or turn) innocents, but there are some (called the Obscuros) who defy the Pact and must be hunted down and killed, either by the good vampires or by the demilords (vampires infused with light from the gods). In addition to the Obscuros, the villains of the series are the Maaskab, a cult of fanatic Mayan priests who want to kill the gods and their descendants and take over the world:  "The Maaskab….priests with black souls and bloodshot eyes, their naked skin covered in a sooty paste….long, blood-caked hair hung in putrid dreadlocks that dangled to their waists. Their black teeth only served to strain the blood-streaked saliva pouring from their lips as they growled." (Accidentally in Love with…a God? p. 43)  

     A Glossary is included at the end of each book explaining various terms and describing the supernatural groups. Beginning with book 3, two sets of character definitions are added to the Glossary section: "The Gods" and "Not the Gods." Also beginning in book 3, the Glossary is (finally!) in alphabetical order.  

     Although it's always best to read a series in order, this author includes enough background information in each novella and novella that you could probably read the first three entries in any order and still understand what's going on. After that, events get too complicated to be read as stand-alones. The downside to reading the books out of order is that each addition to the series adds a bit more information on the series story arc, and that is important to maintaining a feeling of tension and suspense that would be lost if you read them out of order.  

     Paranormal chick lit is not my favorite genre, but this series does have an interesting and inventive mythology and a decent series story arc. My problem is mostly with the air-headed, moonstruck heroines who consistently (and constantly) allow themselves to be diminished and demeaned by their arrogant lovers. No matter how insulting or high-handed their swaggering gods behave towards them, the women instantly melt into a gooey puddle as soon as they are on the receiving end of a passionate kiss. As one of the women describes herself and her fellow heroines: "Anyone with a brain could see they were three inexperienced young women—yes, filled with passion and purpose and a love of shoes and all things shopping…but they didn't know the first thing about fighting wars." (Vampires Need Not…Apply?)  

     The other problem is that each book sets up a faux love triangle, with the second love interest never being a true possibility. The fact that the heroines share kisses with the fake lovers just exaggerates the immaturity and shallowness shown by the females in this series.  

            1 (NOVEL):  Accidentally in Love with…a God?                
     Recent college graduate Emma Keane (age 22) has been hearing a mysterious voice in her head since she was a child—a deep, sexy, male voice who drives her to distraction as he constantly antagonizes her, criticizes her every action and refuses to tell her who is really is—so she names him "Guy." Although Guy speaks to Emma mentally, he can't read her thoughts, which seems a bit improbable to me. In order to communicate with him, she must speak her words aloud. Of course, that means that Emma appears to be talking to herself, and that has gotten her into a lot of problems over the years, including a trip to a psychiatrist. As the story begins, Emma's blind date with a handsome, articulate man is interrupted by Guy's voice, and this time Emma gets so angry and distracted that she walks into traffic and is run over by a taxi. When she comes out of a month-long coma, Guy apologizes and tells her that things can't go on this way any longer. He promises to tell her all of his secrets if she will just hop a plane to the jungles of Mexico and rescue him from a magical trap. With the exception of a few flashback chapters, the story is written from Emma's first person point of view, resulting in a whiny, angst-filled interior monologue.    

     At this point, the plot disintegrates into two closely related story lines: the ridiculous romance (which becomes a love triangle when Tommaso, a sexy Uchben vies for Emma's attentions), and the murky tale of the Maaskab, evil Mayan priests who want to disable the ancient gods and goddesses and take over the world. (We see these one-dimensional, totally evil villains over and over again in sub-par paranormal fiction). Only one of the priests is fully developed as a character, and we don't even know that he is one of the bad guys until late in the book. The rest are just a mob of filthy, dreadlocked, sword-carrying fanatics who sweep in from time to time in a series of attacks on Guy and Emma and their good-guy minions.   

     The hero and the heroine share the traits of stubbornness and emotional confusion. Additionally, Emma is extremely immature and appears to be in a constant state of PMS with her constantly recurring mood swings and her inability to use logic and forethought. She spends her time making bad decisions and then immediately regretting them—never learning from experience. Guy is the stereotypical alpha male who keeps information from the heroine "for her own protection" and then can't understand what she is so upset about. Here is an example of the type of conversation they have over and over again:   

     " 'You've been living in my head, torturing me with our enormous ego, driving me insane with your jealousy! Then I apparently risked my neck to free you. but what about the truth? You promised me answers'.…
     Guy's eyes narrowed. 'Right now, there are bigger issues at hand—your irritating little human life being one of them.'
     I slapped him hard across the cheek." (p. 100)   

    Although there is a decent mythology here, along with a fairly well-planned series story arc, the characters are so stereotypical and shallow that it's hard to care what happens to them. Although the romance resolves itself with an HEA, the book ends with a major cliffhanger for the series story arc when the Maaskab priests make an unexpected power play. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Accidentally in Love with…a God?  

             2 (NOVEL):  Accidentally Married to…a Vampire?               
     This novel has the same elements as the first: a young, immature heroine; a controlling, information-withholding hero; and a second male love interest thrown in as a red herring. New to this novel is that the goddess Cimil plays an extensive role. Cimil turns out to be a cross between Kresley Cole's loopy soothsayer Nyx (in the IMMORTALS AFTER DARK) series and MaryJanice Davidson's frenetically flaky Queen Betsy (in the QUEEN BETSY/UNDEAD series). Cimil is a sexy, blond, egocentric nutcase who thrives on playing dangerous games with other people's lives and making predictions that even she doesn't understand.  

     The hero in this book is the legendary vampire Niccolo DiConti, who was put into a three-century sleep by Cimil after he asked her to help him break his connection with the evil vampire queen, Reyna. In the Prologue, Cimil, who has visions of future events, tells Niccolo that his true love (aka soul mate) will come to him in 300 hundred years, but he cannot bite her or take her to bed until she willingly agrees to become a vampire on the 3-month anniversary of their meeting. To keep Niccolo safe during his 300-year waiting period, Cimil puts him into a Sleeping-Beauty snooze from which he can only be awakened by Helena Strauss, his human mate-to-be.  

    The action part of the plot has a weak connection to the series story arc (the approaching apocalypse triggered by the wicked priests' desire to take over the world). In this book, we meet the demilords, who are supposed to be clearing the world of bad vampires (and Obscuros). Demilords are vampires who have been infused with the light of the gods. They hate their jobs, and they hate the gods who control them, so they aren't doing a very good job of getting rid of the Obscuros.  

    The plot follows the lead couple as they alternate between bickering and kissing passionately—followed by more bickering. Niccolo imprisons Helena in a plush Manhattan penthouse while he goes off for days at a time to kill Obscuros. When he comes home, he tells her how much he needs her but claims that since he is a vampire he can't ever love her. This is how things generally go: "Helena wanted to shout—they needed to talk and trust each other like real people! She needed to be treated like his equal, not kept like a pet. She was about to say so, but the moment she gazed into his deep espresso eyes, her anger evaporated….She swallowed hard and crossed her legs while her mind flooded with images of bed play…" (p. 90) 

     Finally, after two months, Helena gets fed up with her situation and runs away, only to go off almost immediately with a complete stranger on a cross-country drive. Obviously, Helena isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer: First, she went with Niccolo to New York after knowing him for about a week. Now, she goes off with Andrus as soon as she meets him. Both men refuse to tell her the truth about what is going on, meaning that Helena is mostly powerless and always under male control, a situation that makes for uncomfortable reading—at least for this reader. Helena is supposed to be an educated woman (graduated summa cum laude, has a Master's Degree in evolutionary biology, has worked hard her entire life), so why would she turn her back on her previous life (including her mother) and go off to New York with a vampire who claims to be her mate? And when that situation goes sour, why would she then jump into a car with another strange man? Helena makes one bad choice after another; Niccolo gets more and more controlling; and Andrus allows his blind need for revenge drive him to commit terrible acts.  

     The plot of this book is more complex than book 1, but the characters are pretty much the same: the air-headed heroine, the über-alpha hero, and the handsome rival with a good heart but bad intentions. I hope that this is not the formula for all books in this series. I'm hoping that the author will give us a  more mature heroine with the brains to make better choices and a hero who gives females credit for having some intelligence.     

     The humor is frenetic—trying to be hilarious, but managing only to be strained. For example, when Niccolo awakens from his centuries-long sleep, he runs into all kinds of misunderstandings about 21st century technology: "Inter-net. Is that used for some sort of fishing? And why is the phone called smart? Were prior ones stupid?" (p. 41) For me, the treatment of the lead females in both books is so awful that I couldn't find much humor in anything. The goddess Cimil is portrayed as yet another air-headed female who punctuates her conversation with strangely inappropriate pop cultural references (particularly to 1980s TV shows), and her manipulation of people tends to be sociopathic in nature—all of which appears to be intended as comic relief

            3 (NOVEL):  Sun God Seeks…Surrogate?            
     Twenty-five-year-old Penelope Trudeaux can't believe it when she is accosted by a very strange (possible crazy) woman (Cimil) in a Manhattan restaurant. The woman offers Penelope a million dollars if she agrees to become the surrogate mother of the woman's brother's child. Here's the thing…Penelope's mother is extremely ill with a mysterious, probably terminal, disease and Penelope can't afford to send her to the clinic in Sweden that promises to cure her. A million dollars would solve her problem—if she could talk herself into hooking up with a strange man as a baby daddy. As soon as Penelope meets Kinich ("Call me Nick…") Ahau, though, she begins to change her mind. The two have a single date in New York, during which they are drugged, resulting in neither of them remembering what went on (although they do wake up the next morning naked in Kinich's bed, so they can pretty much guess exactly what went on). When Nick finds out that Cimil has propositioned Penelope to become pregnant with his child, he is horrified and furious because Cimil knows that Kinich is totally opposed to fraternization between gods and humans. 

     The rest of the story follows the development of the romance between Penelope and Kinich, which has the more than the usual number of bumps and pot holes. The plot line advances the series story arc involving the coming apocalypse that is being triggered by the malevolent Maaskab, who have now united with the Obscuros to form a (possibly) invincible army of bad guys, all intent on taking down the gods and the good vampires. This plot has more twists and turns than the others, as characters change species (e.g., from god to mortal, from mortal to vampire, from angel to vampire—oh, yes, we get an angel or two in this story). 

     The angst in the romance comes from Kinich's inability to commit totally to Penelope because his first and foremost commitment must be to protect humanity. Also, he believes that matings between gods and humans will upset the balance of the universe. "Mortals belonged with mortals. Gods belonged alone. That was the natural order." Even though Kinich is highly attracted to Penelope, he tells himself that they can never be together, and he backs up his beliefs with appropriate, but heart-breaking, actions that change both his and Penelope's lives forever.

    Penelope is the third ditzy heroine of this series—a naive, hormonal woman who constantly uses exclamations (mostly food-related) like "Demon crackers!" and "Devil crisps!" and "Holy devil's food cake!" (and also "Crappity-Crap!") She is just as lust-driven as the previous two heroines: "This man turned me into a ball of hormones, where logic had no clout. I wanted him. I wanted him in a way that defied rational thought or a need for self-esteem." This trait of the series heroines bothers me more than anything else because it diminishes and reduces them to mindless, sappy, emotion-driven hunks of burning love. Each one turns into the female version of the classic Elvis song.

    Kinich, on the other hand, turns out to be the noblest of the heroes so far. He freely shares information with his lover much more willingly than the previous two heroes, and he isn't nearly as arrogant and controlling. He is honest about his commitment to his responsibilities to the human population and honest about his believe that he can't fully commit to Penelope. That may seem arrogant, but really, he is a god, after all, and has spent the last 70,000 years protecting the humans of the world. Can we really expect him to put his feelings for Penelope—however deep—over his innate commitment to protect humanity? 

     By the end of the book, much more information has surfaced about the magical black jade that blunts the gods' powers, the identity of the creator of the Obscuros, the nature of the union between the Maaskab and the Obscuros, and Penelope's genetic heritage. The story ends in a major cliff-hanger that does not bode well for Kinich, Guy, or Niccolo.  

            3.5 (NOVELLA):  "Accidentally…Evil?"                
     This brief novella provides the answer to the key question of this series: Why did Backlum Chaam, the God of Male Virility, turn his back on humanity and join with the Maaskab in their plan for world domination? It also provides a clue to the reason behind Yum Cimil's insanity, including the possible identity of the buzzing fly with whom she has frequent conversations in the first three novels.  

     The story is a flashback to November 1, 1934, when young Margaret (Maggie) O'Hare has a fateful encounter with Chaam in the jungles of Bacalar, Mexico. At this point in the story, Chaam is still one of the good guys. He immediately recognizes that Maggie is his mate, even though he believes that they can never be together because of his full-time job of protecting humanity. For Chaam, that means helping males of every species (including insects) overcome any difficulties they have in completing their sexual fulfillment with their chosen mates (perhaps his name should be Viagra).     

     Maggie is in the Mexican jungle with her father, who has been gradually losing his mind since the death of Maggie's mother six months ago. Dad has been missing for three days, and she was searching for him when Chaam found her.      

     Even though Maggie was born decades earlier than the other heroines of the series, she has the same unfortunate puddle-of-love reaction to her lover that all the other heroines have. She also uses the same sort of idiotic, food-related exclamations: "Applesauce!" "Why the deviled egg is he looking at me like that?" "Son of a biscuit!" "What the deviled-ham sandwich did you expect?" "Oh, potato salad!"  

     When Chaam loses Maggie—seemingly forever—he breaks (as Cimil puts it) "his deity-do-gooder bond with the universe" and turns toward the dark side in a manner that appears to be engineered by Cimil, naughty/crazy girl that she is. Although the ending is a tear-jerker, there is a promise of eventual redemption—although lots of really bad things will happen first.  

            4 (NOVEL):  Vampires Need Not…Apply?              
   Now that we know Chaam's tragic story, it's time to rescue him from his entombment in the evil pyramid in the Mexican jungle. That turns out to be the ultimate goal of the action part of this novel, but lots more is going on within this strange, mixed-up group of gods, goddesses, vampires, angels, and hybrids of all types: "It seemed the immortal races were mimicking the humans and undergoing their own genetic evolution. In other words, they, too, were turning into one giant melting pot: ex-deity vampires, ex-vampires who were now demigods, fallen angel vampires,…and children being born of parents from the various combinations."   

     At the center of the action is Cimil, who (according to information gleaned in the 3.5 novella) became a nutcase as a result of a romantic tragedy. Is Cimil good or evil? What is she trying to accomplish and why? Well…we don't get all the answers to those questions in this novel, but we do get a lot of useful information…that is, if we can believe that all the information is true.

     The primary romance in this novel is between Ixtab, the Goddess of Suicide, and Antonio Acero, a wealthy, handsome, Spanish physicist who is human (at least he starts out that way). Ixtab is a loner who wears all black, including a veil that hides her face. One of the horrific traits she carries as part of her god-gifted (or god-cursed) powers is that if she touches a man—even accidentally—he immediately kills himself. Two hundred years ago, Francisco (Ixtab's true love) touched her, drank poison, and died, and she has been blaming herself for his death ever since. Ixtab also does good deeds: "With the right amount of concentration and a little help from the Universe, she had the ability to extract the darkness from a good soul" and then transfer the dark emotion to someone who is already evil—causing that person then to commit suicide. As you can imagine, draining dark emotions and killing people for 70,000 years has turned Ixtab into a deeply depressed and extremely unhappy person. And don't forget that, like all of the other gods and goddesses, she is still a virgin because she has yet to find her true mate. Here, she muses about her fate: "She was so fed up with this! So sick and tired of being the bringer of self-imposed death. It wasn't fair. She didn't want to kill—well, not unintentionally, anyway….The Universe had a sick, sick sense of humor."

     Ixtab and Antonio get together when Antonio needs her help in translating an ancient Mayan tablet that holds the secret for opening a portal that will free a mysterious woman (think back to novella 3.5 for her identity) who can help the good guys cure Chaam and defeat the Maaskab. Antonio, though, has a dark, personal reason of his own for wanting to open the portal.

     The plot is fairly complicated because, as usual, things keep going wrong—a hallmark of every plan Cimil has ever concocted. By this point in the series, you really won't be able to understand what is going on if you haven't read all—or at least most—of the earlier novels (and particularly the preceding novella). With this book, the series seems to be coming together nicely, with the end in sight.

     The element that makes this novel stronger than the previous ones is the character development of the lead lovers. Ixtab is blessedly free of the hysterical, immature personality traits of the earlier heroines. Although Antonio was an arrogant womanizer in his pre-Ixtab life, when he meets her he drops that annoying trait (for the most part), so we, thankfully, don't have to contend with a controlling, demanding hero like the ones we saw in the earlier novels. Ixtab and Antonio are not calm, angelic people by any stretch of the imagination. Both are dealing with seriously tragic life events, so they are at high emotional levels throughout much of the story. The saving grace is that they come across as mature adults, whose behavior is believable and understandable.   

              4.5 (NOVELLA): "Accidentally…Cimil?"               

     SPOILER ALERT! This review contains     
     spoilers for previous novels & novellas.     

      This is an extremely important piece of the series because it FINALLY reveals the reason for Cimil's crazy and villainous behavior throughout the series. It also reveals the identity of the invisible person/creature/being with whom Cimil has been having conversations. The story is divided into three sections:
     > Part One: Cimil and Narmer: The Early Years 
     > Part Two: Cimil and Rrroberto: The Not-So-Early Years
     > Epilogue: Cimil and Narmer/Roberto: New Year's Eve, 2012    

     Part One begins in Egypt in 3000 BC, when Cimil stops in to meet the handsome, virile Pharaoh Narmer, who is considered by his people to be a god. Cimil knows that Narmer is not a god, but she is mightily attracted to him, so she has a private visit with him in his bedroom and winds up being ensorcelled by Mitnal, Narmer's Mayan priest. The spell keeps her from leaving Narmer's bedroom, and the collar that Narmer places around her neck nullifies her powers. What Narmer wants is an immortal, submissive, goddess wife, and when he discovers that he and Cimil are incompatible because she is a non-submissive goddess who sets his private parts on fire, he goes to Mitnal for more help. Of course, the evil Mitnal is seeking power for himself, so he tries to manipulate Narmer by making several outrageous demands. Suffice it to say that Cimil escapes, Narmer gets turned into the world's first vampire, and Mitnal receives his just reward. Towards the end of Part One, relations between Narmer and Cimil become irrevocably strained when he kills her and her pet unicorn and begins killing humans for their blood.  

     In chapter six, we meet Cimil's "future-me," the one that has been causing all the trouble in the previous books. Future-me has a theory that explains why everything Cimil does turns out wrong, and she also believes that if the two of them don't come up with a way to fix this that Cimil will inadvertently cause an apocalypse that destroys the world. I won't tell you their (silly) solution, but I'll give you a major hint: episode 86 of Seinfeld.  

     Part Two moves ahead to Spain in 1712, where Cimil is juggling relationships with both Narmer (now named Roberto, or as Cimil pronounces it, Rrroberto) and his brother, Philippe, leader of the villainous Obscuros (bad vampires). Narmer confesses that he has been obsessed with Cimil since the day he met her. "I've spent thousands of years searching for the answerswhat I am, how I was truly created, why no matter how many women I sleep with or drink from, I feel emptier by the day….Perhaps I have never really truly gotten over you...I ask that you give me thirty days to discover the truth, and if I am correct to help me find a way to break this curse." (chapter 7) Cimil accepts his request, but adds a number of pay-back conditions designed to completely humiliate Narmer/Roberto.  

     Epilogue: As you can guess, Cimil and Narmer find true love (finalized in the Epilogue), but the apocalypse problem doesn't get solved in this story. That will have to wait until Accidentally…Over?, the final book in the series. Towards the end, future-Cimil commiserates: "I wish I could remember how I specifically triggered the apocalypse. Maybe then, you could avoid doing that one particular thing." (chapter 10)    

     If you have been following the series, this novella answers long-standing questions about Cimil's outrageous behavior: why she has been helping the bad guys, why she appears to be talking to herself all the time, and how her heart was broken so many thousands of years agoand by whom. The novella includes a glossary with an inclusive list of character definitions. The story line and the characters are just as silly as ever, but on the whole, I must admit that this series has been quite entertaining. Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can click on the cover art and read the prologue and first chapter.