Like Carla Kelly, Karen Harbaugh is pushing the bounds of the Regency sub-genre. But she’s doing it in a completely different way. While Kelly’s heroes and heroines are often common people, Harbaugh’s are about as uncommon as you can get. In Cupid’s Kiss, the final installment in Harbaugh’s Cupid trilogy, the hero is Eros – the Greek god of love. Not every author would be able to make such a story work, but this story is delightful, humorous, and just plain fun.
Eros has been wandering the world for thousands of years, searching for his lost wife, Psyche. As the story begins, several of his fellow gods corner him and give him some bad news: If he doesn’t find his wife within the year, the powers of the gods will disintegrate, and the earth will erupt in chaos. Eros knows he should get busy searching, but he doesn’t want to leave his dear friend, Psyche Hathaway, a mortal living in England.
Psyche is aware of his godly powers because he has been appearing to her since her childhood. He has helped her brother and sister fall in love (in the first two books of the trilogy), and he watched over her brother during battle. As she has grown older, her feelings for Eros have deepened. But she knows that they can never be together. After all, he’s a married man, even though he hasn’t seen his wife for thousands of years. Besides, she is aware of the dire consequences awaiting earth if Eros fails to find his bride. So she agrees to help Eros in his quest. But Eros finds himself remarkably unfocused. While he should be searching for his beloved wife, he can’t stop thinking about Psyche Hathaway. And when he kisses her, she begins to have some pretty strange dreams. Could she be his long lost beloved?
I’m sure you can guess the answer to that one. The first big clue is that her name is Psyche, and in case you manage to miss that one, there are plenty more. Part of the fun of this book is that Psyche’s identity is abundantly obvious to the reader, but she and Eros are totally clueless. At times I wondered if they would ever figure it out, and the anticipation was almost excruciating. But when they finally get together, their union is all the more satisfying.
This book is full of delightful characters. Psyche is a noble person, willing to sacrifice her happiness for the good of humankind. She also writes corny Gothic novels. The text quoted from the book she is working on is hilarious; it could easily win a purple prose contest. Although Eros is physically perfect, he is not flawless or boring. His love of Psyche is endearing, and his magic powers are often amusing. The secondary characters are great here as well. I loved Psyche’s parents. Her mother is a good-hearted busy body, and her father is an absent-minded scholar of the antiquities. He’s thrilled to give Eros Psyche’s hand in marriage, because Eros speaks such fluent Greek!
There is an enjoyable secondary love story between the goddess Artemis and Lord Eldon, an ordinary mortal. Eros shoots the proud and meddling Artemis with one of his darts, and she cannot stop thinking about Lord Eldon. Since she is a goddess, every time she even thinks about Eldon she appears at his side. Their love story is almost as much fun as the primary one between Eros and Psyche.
The flaw in this book is that there are a lot of unanswered questions. I wasn’t sure what a Greek god was doing in England in the first place, and I was a little confused about the whole nature of the gods in general. I have a feeling, however, that many of these questions are answered in the previous books. I haven’t read them, but I definitely want to.
Obviously, this book requires tremendous suspension of disbelief. If you don’t like anything with a magical twist, then this probably isn’t the book for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy mythology. As heroes go, it’s awfully hard to beat the god of love.