Desert Isle Keeper
A DIKlassic review
review originally published on May 6, 2001
Following on the heels of her The Cat’s Fancy, her delightful single title contemporary debut romance, Aphrodite’s Kiss has made Julie Kenner’s books an autobuy for me. I found this book a total delight and absolutely unique. For those looking for something different, Kenner has provided it with a unique mix of our modern everyday world and total fantasy with a nice soupcon of humor.
The premise of this book is extremely imaginative and I found the intermingling of “superheroes” and the everyday folks they protect to be wonderful. Kenner’s literary conceit is that the “myths” about the Greek Gods on Mt. Olympus are actually tales of non-fiction. Dwelling among us are gods who protect humans from evil demons who also have human shape and other accidents and perils – essentially, super-hero guardian angels.
The heroine, Zoe Smith, is half-guardian, half-librarian. She appears completely human but has never fit into the everyday world of work or school. She is always apart and has had few friends in her life. Zoe’s 25th birthday is approaching and she has to make a decision about either joining the Council, which means mastering her talents to pass certain tests, or having her memory erased and becoming fully human. Zoe would lose all memory of her father and brother and even though she knows her mother Tessa will be upset, she doesn’t want to give up her special talents. Since Tessa ordered Zoe’s father out of her life when she learned the truth about him, Zoe is afraid that she will lose her mother’s love if she joins the Council.
George Taylor, the hero, is an ex-policeman who is now a not-too-successful private eye, working on a case for the husband of Zoe’s co-worker. George quickly falls for Zoe, but finds her puzzling and is extremely curious about many strange happenings when she is around. George is a wonderful hero and his actions at the end of the book truly heroic. One can easily see this couple working and loving each other long after the book is finished. George’s relationship with his sister and her son is also a highlight of the book.
Hale, Zoe’s brother, is a wonderful character and I assume will be the hero of a subsequent book. Hale’s “cover” job is as a romance cover model! Picture John DeSalvo as Greek God (not such a stretch) and you have Hale. He is charming, delightful and delicious and I can’t wait to read his book.
The joy of this book is Kenner’s sly and dry humor and the fully developed characters she manages to turn out amidst all of the action and fantasy structure. Kenner has created a secondary world with its own rules and she sets up this framework in an easily understood fashion and never deviates from it. Most importantly, she doesn’t cheat by having the gods interfere in the ultimate battle’s outcome. Even Hale and Zoe’s father have to sit back and let her fight her own battle. From the beginning we know Zoe is going to have to fight her cousin, who always seems to mess up, but the battle is exciting and George is able to truly prove his love.
The cover of this book – showing Zoe using her x-ray vision to see George’s heart-covered boxers – is an absolute delight and one of the best of the oft-used “cartoon” covers I have seen. Aphrodite’s Kiss is going on my keeper shelf and I really look forward to Kenner’s next books.