Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Sweet Hell by Rosanna Leo
Josie, a Toronto baker of Italian heritage, is not looking for love or lust. Especially not with Dionysus Iros, the most aggravating, demanding customer she'd ever had to serve. With his rippling muscles and sexy, knowing eyes, he's obviously trouble with a capital T. Unfortunately, he's also the star of her every X-rated dream. She’s known players like Dionysus before, and one of them almost got the better of her. Josie determines she will not fall for his considerable physical charms, come hell or high water.
But Dionysus turns strangely protective when a sinister character arrives at Josie’s bakery, and they can no longer deny their unwanted feelings for one another. They are forced to embark on a bizarre, sexually-charged journey to hell itself, which threatens to either change them for the better, or destroy them.
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This second entry in Leo's untitled series about the Greek gods and goddesses is every bit as entertaining as the first. Delving deeper into tales and concepts from Greek mythology, this one literally takes us on a journey through hell that's full of such rich imagery that any student of the Greek myths is sure to appreciate it. The tone is far from scholarly, however, and instead manages to make a journey through Hell seem like it's mostly a bit of sensual fun, though not without its terrors and tense moments to be sure.
Josie is a very real sort of character, a single woman who works hard to help keep the family bakery afloat, with little real help from her brothers who are the actual owners of the place. They take advantage of her to a shameful extent, yet she rarely complains to them about it, instead simply picking up the large amount of slack they leave to keep the place running and successful. Bit by bit, we learn various other details of her life and history, most of which highlight the fact that she's had a less than charmed life up to this point. She is certainly a very strong character, with a great many qualities that make her both entirely likeable and someone you can't help but respect, and is anything but a damsel in distress when it comes right down to it.
Dionysus is the dreamy, sensual sort of playboy that almost any woman would want, at least on some level. There's little not to like about him on the surface at least, and still plenty to like once you get past the surface even, because for all that he's led a carefree and rather shallow lifestyle for centuries and not given much thought to it, there is quite a decent core of caring underneath the party-boy exterior. After the somewhat ditsy portrayal he received in For the Love of a God, it was interesting to see that he really does have a lot of depth of character and that he's more than willing to fight for the things he truly feels passionate about, perhaps even more than Eryx was, at least at first.
The story of Dionysus and Josie's romance is interesting, and sweet with their attraction to one another being both instant and developing over an extended period of time. Still, since they never act upon the attraction in all the months they know one another, when they finally are thrown together it can't help but seem a bit forced, at least to the extent that Josie is willing to accept things as easily as she does (though to be fair, it is noted that at first she simply decides to just go with it rather than really trying to understand or accept it). Perhaps because of this feeling that they are pushed together a bit prematurely before either of them was really ready for it, their relationship through the journey that comprises the main part of the book seems a bit artificial. Yet it's hard to deny the genuine attraction between them, or the strength of the feelings for one another that eventually emerge. What starts as merely a heavy flirtation and dalliance develops into a relationship where each is literally willing to endure or go through hell for the other.
My main quibble with this book is the same one I had with the first book in the series, and involves a decision that Dionysus makes near the end which makes the alpha-male lover in me scream in denial. This is a personal preference sort of thing though, and I do understand why he makes the decision he does, and will even admit that it is rather romantic as it's intended to be, but still. Ugh. Thankfully I'm assured that it won't be a continuing trend in the rest of the series. That moderate disappointment aside, I still very much enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it to fans of paranormal romance or of Greek mythology. 4½ stars to this one easily.