An Accidental Odyssey
I’m a lifelong fan of mythology, and nowadays the greatest myths are being retold through web comics, romance and mainstream fiction. So when I realized K.C. Dyer had crafted a story where the characters are retracing Odysseus’ voyage through the Mediterranean, I was eager to read it.
An Accidental Odyssey is the second book in Dyer’s ExLibris Adventure series. It’s a nice escape into an epicurean adventure that’s neither too sexy nor too adventurous, but is rather just, well… nice.
This sweet, contemporary romance takes place in real time and is entirely relatable. COVID-19 has been a leveling factor in many ways, chief among them the world’s shared experience with isolation and settling into a new normal. Dyer sets the timing for the story by referencing life in the aftermath of social distancing, which is interesting because long after she retires and the world moves on, this book will tell the story of how awkward it was to hug somebody after a lengthy spell of quarantine. So when we meet Gia Kostas, journalist and restaurant reviewer for a small company, it’s no surprise to learn she’s being laid off when her small company doesn’t extend her contract beyond her present gig. On the surface, it feels like she may be okay, though, because she’s engaged to a rich, handsome man and maybe she’ll have a bit of a cushion until she gets back on her feet. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear her fiancé Anthony is a big bag of dicks.
Gia’s accidental odyssey begins when she learns her estranged father, Dr. Kostas, semi-retired classics professor, has had a stroke just prior to heading out on a planned retracing of Odysseus’ voyage across the Mediterranean. And it gets underway when she decides to join him, under the guise of delivering his forgotten medication.
She’s a cautionary tale of the unexpected—which isn’t a bad thing, because sometimes you get what you wish (and take a leap of faith) for. Like when you let down your guard or shake your fist at convention, or when you take a food blogger job on the road, you’ve got to be prepared to achieve that goal. When you flirt with that cute archaeologist and let yourself wonder ‘what if’? When you take the time to get to know your father again, and to understand why the people in his life are so crazy about him. Sometimes gambles deliver, and you’ve got to be prepared.
I’d categorize this as more chick-lit/women’s fiction than romance, as it focuses more on Gia’s journey to self-awareness and discovery, and on rebuilding her relationship with her father. But that cute archaeologist I mentioned above? Unexpected delight ensues when Gia meets Dr. Raj Malik. They have nice chemistry, but Gia is navigating her way through the inevitable end of her long-term relationship with her fiancé. Unlike Anthony she’s no cheater, and besides, she’s focused on the other man in her life – her father.
An Accidental Odyssey doesn’t really live up to the “epic adventure” it’s billed as, and I wish Gia had put on her big girl panties and realized sooner how toxic Anthony was for her so the relationship between her and Raj could’ve developed more romantically – because all that hemming and hawing slowed the momentum. The big winner here is definitely the setting and Gia’s lush descriptions of the landscape and people on the journey. But if you’ve got wanderlust – like me – and count down the days until spring, living vicariously through Gia’s first-person travels will get you through the winter season.