Review: What a Goddess Wants by Stephanie Julian

Wednesday, July 27

Title:  What a Goddess Wants*
Author: Stephanie Julian
Series: Forgotten Goddesses #1
Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Format: Trade sized paperback & digital ebook
Date/Year:  July 2011
Reviewed by: Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review

Summary from the publisher:

In his arms, her magic powers are on the rise…

Tess, Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn, is desperately fighting off a malicious god, but her powers are weakening. She needs a hero and fast, because only sexual energy can give her strength. So she seeks out Caligo, whose sexual prowess is legendary…

And she’s the only one who can bring him into the light…

Caligo is a fabled Cimmerian warrior determined to stay away from spoiled goddesses who trample heart after they’ve had their fun. But there’s something irresistibly hot and inviting about Tessa, and he knows he’s her only chance to escape the encroaching darkness…

My Musings:

What a Goddess Wants is the first book I’ve read by author Stephanie Julian.  She has had quite a prolific writing career with Ellora’s Cave Publishing  who was one of the first to publish some of my favorite authors including Lora Leigh and Sarah McCarty, so when I saw that Ms. Julian wrote an Erotic Paranormal romance with for a more traditional publisher  (Sourcebooks) I thought now would be the perfect time to give her stories a try…that and when I read the description of the book from the blurb I was immediately intrigued.  What’s not to love about ancient Etruscan Gods?

I won’t go into a summary of the book, nor will I try to capture the hero and heroine’s personalities because I think the blurb from the publisher does a pretty good job of that and my review will be long enough as it is.  But I will say that I found Ms. Julian’s writing to have a sarcastic and at times witty style.  I think that is the most positive thing I can say about the book.

As I said before, I was intrigued by the blurb and that interest was reaffirmed as I began to read the story, but after the beginning all I was left with were unanswered questions, and what I consider a less than erotic paranormal romance.  Before I get into what didn’t work for me, let me preface it be saying that I don’t read a lot of paranormal romance (though I don’t really think that should make a difference) and I also realize that this book is the first in the Forgotten Goddesses series, so not all things revolving around the villain would be resolved in this book….and contrary to my normal rule of not including spoilers, this review is bound to contain a few out of necessity.

Overall, I thought there were quite a few inconsistencies in the story that I could not explain.  One of the biggest ones was why Cal, a Cimmerian warrior, was able to feel  heat (as in sensory, not emotional) when touching Tessa because Cimmerian warriors do not feel pain….but they do fell pleasure?  I could go with the idea of not feeling pain to make them the fearless and ruthless warriors they are breed to be, but to me it didn’t make sense that you could have one without the other.   By the end of the story I expected to have some aha moment where I “got” what made his reaction to her overcome his basic nature.  Was it their love?  If so wouldn’t all warriors feel that when they meet their perfect match?  I still have no clue, maybe I missed it, but I would have thought that something this significant would have been more memorable.

Another big thing that bothered me was that neither Cal, nor Tessa grew very much as characters in my eyes.  Tessa, a Goddess of the Dawn was quite the party girl in her day…even after the introduction of the Roman Gods usurped her necessity and powers.   The story explains to the reader that she hasn’t had sex in like…hundreds of years (for no apparent reason), but then has sex with Cal within minutes (literally) after meeting him?  And yes, Cal is supposed to be a sex “god” (not literally) but what is his attraction to Tessa beyond her being beautiful?  Having a bad history with Goddesses he has sworn to avoid them like the plague…that is until meeting Tessa.  But he never seems to question his attraction beyond his need to protect her even after finding out she is a Goddess.  I don’t know…the whole “relationship” part of the story just didn’t work for me.  They never talked about why she didn’t have any lovers…after all that could have restored some of her powers if that is all it took.  They never talked about Cal’s fianc√© who was killed and why he left his otherworldly home which he loves.  Granted this was revealed to the reader via a conversation with Tessa and Cal’s brother, but this is a HUGE event is Cal’s life and is the reason why he left his home, his family, and his prominent position in the community to live among humans in Pennsylvania.  The story never addressed the fact that she is an immortal, and he is not (though he can live a very long life), so …Tessa is essentially doomed to eventual heartbreak when he dies? From my experience with paranormal romance the immortal has a way to make his mate live forever too.  To me their relationship was only built on sex and survival.  I felt the story was very in the moment and as a result I felt it was almost immature because of the lack of emotional depth or discovery between the characters.

Some other questions I had were why it seemed that all of the other Gods, Goddesses and beings in the story had the ability to transport into different dimensions except for Tessa.  Why?  Sure, it was convenient to the story to not have her able to do this, and that’s what it seemed to me…a convenient way to make her vulnerable.  I could maybe understand in her weakened state that she was not powerful enough to be able to do this, needing to rely on others, but why not even after her powers began to return because of sexin' with Cal was she not able to do this?  What made her different?

If the villain was able to reach Tessa through  her dreams, shouldn’t he be able to find her wherever her body was physically located?  This is an important question for me because of a few things.  The whole premise of Cal and Tessa going on the run was to safeguard her against the God trying to steal her powers through her dreams.  But why do they need to run?  Why was his ability to find her based on her bodily presence when all he had to do was wait for her to sleep and dream? I could understand maybe trying to block him from her mentally but the whole thing with her having to flee…just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Her physical location shouldn’t really matter. Normally, I just try to go with the flow on things that are part of world building, especially with a paranormal or fantasy based story, but when the author sent the characters to Cal’s homeland in an alternate worldly plane where it is supposedly “safe”…where the villain and his demons shouldn’t be able to reach her…how was it possibly for a demon to attack Tessa before it was almost too late, without Cal, his Father, or his brother knowing it?  Supposedly there were safeguards that would not allow that NOT to happen, which is why Cal took her to his home despite his estrangement with his family and his fellow warriors.  If she wasn’t safe there then there was no reason for him to return.  It’s a quandary…one of many.  It would have been more interesting for me if she was sequestered in his world, which lives in darkness, when she is the Goddess of the Dawn and needs light like she needs sex to regain her powers…eventually forcing them to leave his home after allowing them time to solidify what they mean to each other and their love.  You know, get to KNOW each other.

Then there are the lesser “issues”.   For instance, why Cal would repeatedly say “ Thank the Gods” when his people don’t worship any deities?  The Cimmerians don’t have any Gods, or religious beliefs so in essence their atheists.  And why Cal could heal from major injuries in hours or days when he is a mortal, but Tessa being an immortal Goddess takes weeks?  And I just couldn’t get past the glaring contradictory errors in the final love scene that is supposed to be magical and triumphant since their loved survived against all odds;  I.e.  Tessa’s panties going from cotton to silk from one sentence to the next.  Tessa wearing a halter sundress one minute to having Cal’s hand under her shirt….and I don’t think it was a typo (where is should have been skirt)considering he was attempting to cop a feel of her breast.  Sundresses are usually one piece and don’t consist of shirts, even my limited fashion knowledge.  And then there were Cal’s disappearing pants...wearing jeans one second, only boxers the next.  Yeah these are little things, but they all happened is such a short period of time (within a page or two) and occurred at was to be the pinnacle of their love, ruined it for me.  Maybe these things were corrected by the final version  of the book(I read an ARC), but I believe that things like this should have been caught well before the book makes it way to reviewers.

Finally, by biggest disappointment came at the end of the story when Tessa reveals that in order to return to Cal from the otherworldly home of her Gods, and to assure that the villain would no longer seek to steal her powers, that she had to give up her powers of being the Goddess of the Dawn.  Granted she got to keep some of her lesser duties, but in essence that said to me that Cal wasn’t hero enough to save her.   Was there no other way?  Will all of the other Goddesses have to loose there powers too, until the final book in the series?  Surely not.   I know the villain can’t be completely thwarted in book one, but was this really the best way to resolve her safety? To me it cheapened the story because it lessened Cal as a hero and took away something that was so essential to the heroine.  I hated the reason why she was able to return to Cal…even if she returned to him because she loved him.  Hated. It.  It’s a paranormal romance for heavens sake, where the possibilities are endless!

Contrary to what the review may lead you to believe.  I was actually really looking forward to reading What a Goddess Wants but the lack of convincing world building and  character development ruined my enthusiasm for this book and this series.  Thankfully, What a Goddess Wants…..and the ENTIRE Forgotten Goddesses series can be forgotten by me after this review.

Overall:  2.50 (From what I can tell this book has received very mixed reviews.  It seems like readers thought it was either average, or great...with me liking it less than most)

Sensuality level:  3.75 (I expected more from this book as far as heat goes since the author has written numerous titles for Ellora's Cave, but found it to be only marginally erotic in the very loosest of terms)

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Cecile Smutty Hussy July 27, 2011 at 8:39 PM  

Hey honey!! Long time! =)
I hope all has been well for you!

I soooooo want this book! I love your review. A little disappointed in the heat huh... Well, I am glad you over all liked it!
Hugs to you!

Booklover1335 July 27, 2011 at 8:56 PM  

Hey Cecile,

This book will not live up to your hussy standards. I'm sorry to say that I didn't like it very much, but if you read it I would love to know what you think.

Cecile Smutty Hussy July 28, 2011 at 7:24 PM  

Aww honey, you are too... Kind. You know what my standards are!
I am sorry to hear that you did not care for it much. But at least you were honest and you did it well.

I will definitely let you know (I know you will peek over at my place if you see it pop up, lol) if and when I read it what I thought!

Hugs to you and I hope all is well!

Artemis July 30, 2011 at 7:49 PM  

I'm giving it a pass. Too many others out there that need my undivided attention. Thanks for the great review Doll.

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