Desert Isle Keeper
Crazy Cupid Love
Amanda Heger’s wildly charming Crazy Cupid Love is a wonderful, magical little fantasy romance in which fantasy creatures are real – and they’re looking for love.
There’s nothing in the world Eliza Herman hates more than Valentine’s Day. It’s cutesy, cheesy, it clashes with her birthday – and it causes other effects to spark up and negatively affect her life. For Eliza is a Cupid – a descendant of Eros with Erosian blood running through her veins – and she’s blessed and cursed with the ability to help anyone fall in love, with her or another person if she causes them a minor injury, (and vice-versa). Naturally skilled with magical powers, Eliza instead runs around desperately trying not to get her bones broken or her skin sliced, a task which is complicated by her clumsiness; and being mainly annoyed by her powers, which have cost her multiple jobs. She’s otherwise extremely unpopular with others, especially when compared to her extremely popular twin brother Elijah. Even her anxious mother seems to find her clumsiness a nuisance.
When Elijah chooses to celebrate their shared birthday by bringing Eliza a piñata stuffed with condoms (a tribute to a traumatic childhood memory involving candy, vomit, and the birth of Eliza’s cupid powers) their father promptly has a heart attack and passes out into their birthday dinner. On her way back from the hospital, Eliza runs into the handsome Jake Sanders, and realizes she’s in terrible trouble. Jake’s gotten much cuter since she last saw him.
She’s known Jake, a fellow Cupid, since they were in elementary school. Once close childhood friends, they had drifted apart in junior high, and after Jake enlisted in the Cupid Corps to aid war-torn areas, he fell out of Eliza’s life entirely. Discharged, he’s back and acting as a courier.
Soon, Eliza finds out that Elijah and her mother are fighting over Herman and Herman, the family’s cupid-for-hire business, which owes over thirteen thousand dollars to the California Department of Seduction. Herman and Herman’s business is suffering from a lack of modernization and stiff competition from Vic, who runs a more modern but less reliable and hopelessly sleazy establishment across the street. In light of her father’s heart attack, Eliza vows to stop running from her destiny and test for a provisional Cupid license, and Jake, who knows how to do enchantments and has more experience than she does, is willing to be her mentor and help her out. He joins the team to bolster Eliza and Elijah in their time of need. Eliza borderline-passes, which is enough to allow her to take her place in the family business, but her results are mixed.
The last thing Jake and Eliza want is to fall in love; Eliza doesn’t believe in it, and Jake plans to run for a spot on the Northern California branch of the Cosmic Council, a notion extremely rare for Erosians; so the last thing he wants is to fall for Eliza right now. But then Eliza accidentally enchants Jake – which forces them to work at a distance to keep him from falling in fully in love with her. Yet the two of them – bit by bit, fantasy by fantasy and case by case – are doing just that. But soon enchantments start going wrong and long-bespelled relationships begin falling apart. Something’s messing not just with the Hermans’ magic but with the magic of all Cupids, and it seems to tie in to a popular video game. A conspiracy is afoot that seems to be trying to not only undo the magic that all Cupids share – but the very spell that keeps love alive in the modern world.
This book was a total, complete delight. Crazy Cupid Love is so easy to get lost in and so much fun to read that you’ll find yourself smiling along and nodding in public. By the time Jake and Eliza find themselves being blackmailed into helping a woman re-enchant her sex android into falling in love with her, you’ll be strapped in for the wild, out-of-left-field ride the author is taking you on.
The important part of the story is the simplest part: Eliza’s a wonderful heroine who never gives up, and Jake’s a great guy who wants Eliza to be happy. Their romance is a lot of fun, and is built on old memories and a fresh foundation of purpose. It’s the little ways in which Jake cares about Eliza – bringing her Dunkaroos from Canada because they were the only thing that made childhood worthwhile to her – and the little ways Eliza cares about Jake – like pushing him into following his dream of sitting on the counsel – that drives the book. Theirs is a love built on peach cobbler-flavored condoms and Ron Weasley, her squat orange piece-of-crap car which won’t obey anyone but Eliza. I loved them both.
The minor relationships in the book are great, too. Elijah and Eliza have a wonderful, well-meaning and teasing relationship that’s sometimes punctuated by a little bit of unnecessary meanness from Elijah, which they eventually work through and grow out of. Eliza and her mother, meanwhile, have to push through her mother’s lack of faith in Eliza so that Eliza can reclaim her faith in herself and her mother can see who she is as a person; something that happens gradually. Also populating the universe are a number of clients of Herman and Herman, from a seemingly sweet couple of septuagenarians who turn into a pair of bickersons the second Eliza’s enchantment wears off, to a group of maenads straight out of Clueless.
The only flaw I found in the entire book was the fact that, in this split-PoV tale, Eliza’s chapters are related in the third person, while Jake’s chapters are in the first. This keeps a bit of distance between the reader and Eliza, but not enough to really detract.
The worldbuilding here is fantastic and fun; very deep and very trenchant, but not in a way that’s intimidating. If you want to get lost for a few hours in the harsh, unforgiving chill of winter, Crazy Cupid Love is an excellent way to do it. It’s the most unique, refreshing myth modernization I’ve read in ages.