Kristine Grayson’s last book, Thoroughly Kissed, was thoroughly charming and one of my favorite reads last year. Naturally I jumped at the chance to review Completely Smitten. While it doesn’t live up to the previous book, there are some cute moments that elevate this book into a more-entertaining-than-average read.
Due to a feud with Cupid, Darius, an immortal mage, was sentenced by the Three Fates to unite one hundred pairs of soul mates. It’s taken him nearly 3,000 years to accomplish, but he’s got only one pair left.
Darius’ natural image is drop-dead gorgeous. However, much like Superman, Darius has an alter ego. As Andrew Vari for all but ten days a year, Darius appears to be a short little man with a mushed-up face. At least, that’s how the heroine describes him.
The heroine is Ariel Summers, a triathlete who meets Darius on a hike through the Idaho mountains. She has an accident and Darius (in his natural form) uses his magic to save her from dying. He takes her to his home where they both fall a little in love with each other.
As Ariel becomes more and more intrigued with Darius, he realizes he must send her away. He does, but she tries to see him again. Since he’s reverted to being Vari, she doesn’t recognize him. He tries to get her to leave him alone by being mean and gruff, but Ariel is only more intrigued and tracks him to Portland where they begin to forge a relationship.
I had a hard time warming up to Ariel. She’s tough, befitting an accomplished triathlete, but she’s a loner and a little too self-reliant. Her feelings of dejection at having to quit competing because of various injuries come a little too close to self-pity. But I liked her spunk and determination in tracking down Darius/Vari. She shows signs of being special, as she can see the edges of Darius and his friends’ magic. Two things to her credit are, she falls in love with Vari despite his appearance, and her determination to get her man.
Darius is an interesting hero. Getting to know his personality while he’s in each of his forms reveals much of his character. It’s easy to see that he’s grown and matured over 3,000 years while trying to fulfill the terms of his punishment. He knows he loves Ariel, but he can “see” when people have soul mates (and Ariel clearly has one), which means he cannot have her. Or so he thinks. We readers know what that means, right? He obviously loves her and has learned his lesson over 3,000 years. Overall, Darius is pretty yummy.
Darius and Ariel have some chemistry, while Vari and Ariel seem to have more of a friendship, though Ariel is strongly attracted to both. Watching the relationship develop between Ariel and Vari was interesting because he is presented as such a physicially untraditional hero. And, to the author’s credit, there’s more required to break the spell then Ariel and Vari’s simply falling in love.
There are many secondary characters, the most significant of whom are Cupid, a horrid, cigar-smoking, casino-owning little man, and Aethelstan, aka Alex Blackstone, owner of the restaurant where Vari works – and Darius’ best friend. Aethelstan was the hero of Grayson’s first book, Utterly Charming. Grayson takes the time to explore their relationship as best friends, enriching the reader’s feelings for both characters. Aethelstan’s wife, Nora, also has a fairly significant secondary role. It’s less confusing to keep track of them than it sounds.
Completely Smitten starts off slow but becomes more interesting after Ariel arrives in Portland and begins interacting with other characters rather than pitying herself for her injuries. The transition between the settings just isn’t very smooth. And while I didn’t love this book, it was still entertaining.