"She wanted to save him, and for the first time in centuries, he wanted to be saved."
I was positively surprised. And that doesn't happen as often as I would like it to. This book has offered me something new. Fresh. Different.
True, it is a paranormal romance but with a new concept. This time it isn't about vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, zombies... but about ancient gods in modern times and a certain Spartan general who has the appearance of the aforementioned gods, Greek to be more precise.
Julian of Macedon (it sounds delightful, doesn't it?) is the main hero of this novel. He was a Spartan general whose mother was Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation, for anyone who doesn't know) and because of his origin he was always shunned by society. Namely, he had good looks that wasn't of this plane and all the women only wanted him for his body and pleasure that the said body promised. Of course, all males hated him for the same reason. So, he was discarded by family, shunned by men, used by women and was only good in war. His life was anything but easy and pleasurable.
Julian made a mistake of trusting the wrong person which consequently lead to his curse. His brother cursed him to a terrible fate. He was to be a love-slave entrapped in a book for as long as some woman doesn't summon him only to bring her sexual pleasure for a full month. After that - back in the book. His existence was devoid of everything but being occasionally used by selfish females. Through the passage of time, he learned not to feel. He acted as a machine. He lost himself for many many centuries...
Until Grace Alexander called out to him.
Grace is a young successful woman in all areas except love. The reason is that she was hurt so badly in the past that the wound still hasn't healed. She was used and hurt by a certain man that not only didn't care for her but also mocked her and made her the laughingstock of the entire group. Her trust in men disappeared after that. She went through life having her job and her one best friend Selena. Nothing in her life stood out and she didn't do anything crazy or careless... Until her birthday when Selena made her summon a love-slave to fulfil her long non-existent sexual life.
She didn't believe in that crazy story but pleased her friend nonetheless. When Julian actually appeared, she was stunned. Her life turned upside down. But despite desiring this man and having no sexual contact for years, she still didn't instantly succumbed to his charm. She was the first woman ever who summoned him but didn't use him for her selfish needs. Not only that, she vowed to help him lift the terrible curse.
As they started their month together, little by little, they grew on each other. Julian finally started to feel and ultimately he found himself again, while Grace started to trust him as a man and slowly left her shell which separated her from the world.
You have to admit that you haven't read anything quite like it. The concept of the story is insane as it gets. But it works. It really actually works. I was so sceptical when I heard about the "Fantasy Lover" that I put it off for a long time. It just seemed so freakin' impossible. But when I finally started, I finished it in one sitting, through the course of one night.
Julian is a beautiful hero, aye. No one can dispute that. But unlike so many heroes before, he is emotionally scarred. And that makes him all the more appealing. His life was so horrible and he was betrayed on so many levels that one must wonder, how is he still alive and able to feel anything at all? It's amazing that he can still function as a human. He is also insanely sexual. Which would be great if this book had any real sex until almost the end. You'll see what I mean by that, that would be a huge spoiler. Which makes his sexuality and his protectiveness and that awwwww feeling all the more frustrating.
Grace can be really annoying sometimes, I have to admit that. But that just means she isn't my type of heroine. It doesn't mean she isn't someone else's type. I respect her character profile and I was lead by that and didn't lower the grade only based on that. No author can please everyone. She is a hard-working woman, emotionally damaged herself but who grew up having everything, from a loving family to financial security. She can hardly comprehend Julian's life. But that makes them so attracted to one another. The differences between them that were supposed to separate only made them feel for each other more and explore each other more.
But I think everyone will agree that if Grace hadn't had Selena in her life, she wouldn't end up as nearly as happy as she did. That woman is her saving grace (yes, yes, pun intended) and her light in the dark. She was given too little credit. She should have some stand-alone novel or some side-story short story.
The characters were great. Julian with his troubled past, Grace with her sheltered distanced life and the eccentric Selena. The Aphrodite was also given way less time than I expected she would get. I mean, we do want to so more of the "modern" versions of Greek gods. But I have a feeling we will. This is the first book after all.
The storyline itself was a risk that paid off. This felt like an introduction to a whole new universe which, I am happy to say, I will continue to explore.
The constant sex vibe that hung in the air was ---- suspenseful. Difficult to handle. Made me hot, to be honest. That constant I want to take you right now and the sparks flying all around... brrrr...
So, you may wonder if everything is so great, why not 5*? Because this book had some really dry chapters. Ones that didn't contribute to the story and were only there to prolong our anticipation. Which is okay here and there but not every so often. Also, that constant sex vibe without sex was hard to handle and the final act of joining wasn't as mindblowing as it should have been. It was more meh, kinda disappointed after a full novel of waiting for it.
Also, the author had a habit of throwing sentences like this at us:
"And all the while, he ravished her mouth masterfully like a Viking marauder bent on total devastation."
Personally, I have nothing against Vikings, but this analogy made no sense when her hero was a half Spartan, half Greek son of a Greek goddess. It just seemed really inappropriate and out of place.
All in all, this book wasn't far from 5* and I hope (I really really really do) that the rest will fulfil my expectations. Can hardly wait !