The title: Fantasy Lover
The author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publication: St. Martin's Press, 2002
Got it from: ?? an online store
I must be seriously out of it. I didn't know the first durn thing about Sherrilyn Kenyon until the patrons at my library started asking for her books like crazy. When I realized she'd written approximately 1,765 books and had a rabid fanbase, that caught my attention. When Fantasy Lover popped up on a "top five romances every librarian should recommend" list, I did a double-take. Hold the phone! A book about a half-mortal Macedonian warrior who is trapped in a book to be summoned as a love slave? How did I miss this?
Then I started reading it. (Research. For my job, you know). And all I could think of was, dang. This book is so good, I'll never be able to snark it now. I can't think of one bad thing to say about it. Yes, the premise involves one Julian of Macedon ("blessed by the gods, feared by mortals, and desired by all women who saw him") who does some bad things and is cursed to forever be a love slave. If the book had taken that part too seriously, it would have been so bad. Luckily, there was just enough humour to make the silliness downright believable.
Things I liked about the book:
The heroine, Grace, who summons Julian on a dare when she's drunk on her 29th birthday. Grace isn't drop-dead gorgeous, she's suffered in love and life, she's not that confident when it comes to men. But she's smart, funny and loveable, which is difficult to find in a heroine. Initially she thinks the whole thing is a joke, ("Come and ease my aching loins, O great Julian of Macedon") until she gets to know Julian and actually feels sorry for him.
Julian, himself. It's not easy to feel sorry for a guy who have women literally falling all over him, but Kenyon makes him just sympathetic enough to work. You want to talk about tortured heroes? This guy makes their pasts look like marshmallow fluff. Beaten, tortured, starved, unloved - that's our hero. Without this understanding, we as readers wouldn't understand why Grace's caring would make him fall in love with her.
The plot. Think there's lots of sex in it? Not even. Not to divulge too much here, but a central plot point revolves around how the two protagonists have to abstain for the duration of Julian's summoning. Of course they want each other bad, and the unresolved sexual tension creates many hilarious moments of frustration.
Finally, there's the normality mixed with the craziness. Julian and Grace go out for burgers, visit an aquarium, and learn to drive. They also converse with Greek gods who happen to hang out in restaurants and on the beach. Dude, that would be so awesome! "This party sucks, let's summon Bacchus for some good times." I'm such a fan of magic realism, and I loooooove the Greek gods, so this book was perfect for me.
Rating: eight Macedonian love slaves out of ten, and an Eros to go