The Goddess Gets Her Guy
The Goddess Gets Her Guy is a romance of supreme silliness and goofiness – an alright journey with a message that love isn’t bound by class or status. But its extremely lightweight nature and total inability to stand on its own without having read…well, almost everything else the author’s produced – provide enough drawbacks to land it in middling territory.
At the tribunal of Gaia, there are charges being read, as it seems multiple creatures in her court have been accused of marrying out of their species, including a werewolf who lied about his identity and married a human under a fake name. Others strand on charges of revealing their powers to humans – Gaia’s number one no-no rule – which has forced her to give goddess status to the humans in question. She gets into a dustup with Fate, whose job it is to assign soulmates to the creatures Gaia has given life, which leads to an argument that consumes the court. As the old goddesses banter things out with the goddettes Gaia has anointed, Karma shouts that the clear solution to their mess is simple: Gaia has been so far above humanity and so far above its base natures that all she needs is to get laid. It’s clear that the court agrees.
Well, Gaia’s missed getting laid too, but Fate suggests she needs more than that, and that she should have a romance and find a life partner. A drunk Gaia consents (as much as a drunk person can) to this scheme. The other goddesses quickly gather to matchmake.
Ultimately, Fate’s answer to Gaia’s problems is Massachusetts-based Doctor Aaron Samuels, a surgeon who’s been recently diagnosed with essential tremor, thus ending his career. His kids have grown up and he’s been a widower since they were children. At a loss, Aaron’s planning his next step and trying to figure out how to be useful in the world when one of his daughters invites him to visit her in San Juan, where she’s volunteered to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria (for which, natch, Mother Nature Gaia is quasi responsible for in this universe…hoo boy, see below). In Puerto Rico, Gaia and Aaron meet, mate and begin to consider a future together – but, well, isn’t that a violation of Gaia’s own rules?
Let me set you up for the level of silly we’ve got going on here. There is a goddess of mobile phones named Kristine. Fate tries to give Gaia a relationship questionnaire to find her a soulmate and it goes Very Wrong. You’re in for an incredibly goofy ride if you pick this book up – but the author tries to mix up the real world in her fluffy frothy broth, and it goes flat on both ends.
If the story were more serious in tone, there’d be something interesting about how it approaches coded gender and racial essentialism; about the notion that dragons and phoenixes shouldn’t be together because “a half dragon and a half phoenix cannot make one,” according to Gaia, and how this notion is proven wrong. But instead, we have a goddess figure explaining away Hurricane Maria with: “I was holding the Teutonic plates together, but as soon as I could I grabbed it and threw it out of the way.” It’s…well, a little uncomfortable.
And – even though Gaia’s very funny, even though Aaron’s a grounded nice guy, even though their romance is spicy enough and sweet enough and books about older characters falling in love will always be a bonus – the plot is absolutely drowning in secondary characters and dropped plot threads. This book desperately needed some judicious editing somewhere along the line and missed out on it, because it rambles away so often from Gaia and Aaron’s romance that its development is half-lost.
The fish-nor-fowl nature of the plot works against itself. Gaia’s side of the plot is super cracky and over the top, while Aaron stands on the other side, grappling with a career-ruining illness and life on the other side of forty – though one of his daughters is a witch. (I’ll get to the inconsistency of the magic in the book in a second.) In any event, the bare-bones realism of post-Maria life in Puerto Rico and a world where phoenixes and dragons totally have sex in their human forms cannot coexist. The book’s two sides never properly gel.
As to the magical inconsistencies I mentioned earlier. We’re shown multiple times that the Gods can interfere with and improve human life, but they don’t seem to do much with their powers. Hooray, there’s a goddess of cell phones, but in the end who cares? If you expect me to believe in a world where Mother Nature is real, then you shouldn’t also try to answer the whole ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ question in a fluffy, lighthearted romance novel.
Then there are the many, many goddesses and their husbands who appear in the book. It turns out the reason why their subplots and romances all feel like codas from a fully completed romance – though it’s mentioned nowhere on the back of the book – is that all of them were heroes or heroines in the author’s previous books and series. This would be fine if they were simply cute easter eggs whose presence added to instead of distracting from its world building or if they didn’t consume page after page of plot space, but oh, do they, and oh, will you need to read their books to understand half of what’s happening here, which is unfair to the reader as I count at least six that readers would need to read in order to make sense of this one.
The book drops plot threads with ease. One of Aaron’s daughters is pregnant, has a baby on-page and gets over the trauma of being dumped in the eighth month of her pregnancy with alarming speed. Gaia herself never has any real internal struggle over the fact that she’s falling in love with a mortal after so stringently opposing the idea for centuries.
But The Goddess Gets Her Guy’s central romance is cute and sweet-tempered. It keeps the book out of D-territory, but nevertheless I can’t recommend it.