"Mythical Matchmakers Mess with Romance but Love Prevails"
Kathleen Nance, known for her wonderful djinn stories,
kicks off a new series with THE TRICKSTER. This is
a supernatural matchmaking type of romance. Not content
with a mere Cupid, Ms. Nance calls out the big guns in the
guise of Zeus, currently known as Zeke Jupiter (and Hera,
a.k.a. Harriet Juneau). Zeke's matchmaking efforts are
only a part of his main goal, for he has his own
relationship to mend.
Many centuries ago the Oracle of another world had banished
an entire group of it's citizens to Earth where they
settled on Mt. Olympus. Their longevity and high-technical
abilities caused them to be revered as gods by the less
advanced society. None enjoyed this status more than Zeus,
who commingled freely with several earthly women. Though
mates from his world formed strong spiritual and
intellectual bonds, fidelity wasn't their strong suit.
Unfortunately for Zeus, his wife Hera had very quickly
assimilated the human trait of jealousy. She'd tired of his
infidelity and finally left him. He hasn't seen her in a
millennium, something he plans to rectify.
As the years passed, humans developed technology of their
own and the so-called gods were soon forgotten. Many chose
simply to blend in with the humans, some creating new
lines. Other had either died, or been called home. Zeus'
straying had founded several lines among the humans.
Unfortunately the women of those lines appear to be cursed
with exceptional bad luck in love. Zeus, now "middle-aged"
has become bored with his long life and facing his own
mortality determines to make amends with his wife, whom he
realizes he has always loved. Part of his plan to win her
back is to choose one woman from each of the lines that he
created, through his affairs, and solve their love woes. In
addition he has made himself a solemn vow to be faithful,
for he knows winning Hera back will be the most difficult
task he's ever attempted.
The first woman Zeus chooses is Joy Taylor, of the line of
Io. He had once transformed gentle Io into a cow to hide
her from Hera's wrath for his transgressions. Poor Joy has
not only been unlucky in love, she is severely allergic to
cow by-products including beef, milk, and leather, a real
hindrance to an aspiring chef.
Zeus is pleased that "Mr. Right" has just proposed to Joy,
but knows he's got his work cut out for him. Naturally
when Joy refuses the suit, Zeus assumes the curse is still
at work and endeavors to ensure a wedding between the
pair. Look out! Trouble is on its way though, in the form
of Mark Hennessey, once the all-consuming love of Joy's
life. Zeus recognizes the look of the trickster, Hermes, in
Marks face. This is obviously another part of the curse.
A match between a son of Olympus and a daughter of Earth
will never do. Zeus will do everything in his considerable
power to keep these two apart.
Joy and Mark had been kindred spirits in their teen years.
Both had led nomadic lives, Joy because of her mother's
many marriages, Mark because of his father's shady
dealings. They had found a home in each other. Mark, a year
older, had promised upon graduating (from high school) that
he would find a means to support them both and would return
one year later, on the night of Joys graduation, to marry
her. When Mark fails to show, the hurt and frightened Joy
panics, and marries another man a scant four months later.
At eighteen, she hadn't felt equipped to take on the
support of her flighty mother and 5-year-old sister alone.
A TSTL moment indeed, but Joy is too smart not to realize
she's repeating a bad pattern that has plagued the women in
her family for generations. Soon divorced, Joy finds the
means to support them all when Mom's latest husband takes
off, leaving them his ostrich farm in Louisiana.
Capitalizing on her cooking ability, Joy centers her
cuisine on the alternative source of meat. The ostrich
products provide the family with funds to live on. She has
no need to marry a man, except for love.
Mark had been on the lam with his con-man father for most
of his young life. After Mark met Joy, he had let his
father move on without him. He had been abused, often
locked up in small dark places, for not pleasing the man,
and has developed claustrophobia as a result. He had
intended to return to Joy but was prevented from doing so
by circumstances manipulated by others. As luck would have
it he returned to find Joy married. He'd never let her
know, but carried the hurt of that betrayal deep inside. He
has determined never to be bound to anyone ever again. His
freedom is paramount to his existence. He has chosen a
career he loves and which keeps him moving from place to
Marks occupation is another irony. He is a well-known
magician, a Vegas headliner. Now, seven years later, he's
in town to perform at the Mushroom Festival which Joy is
working on. This is simply a cover for his real mission, to
recover a stolen book of ancient magic, which contains the
secret to the Elements illusion. It is one that he has
never mastered, due to his claustrophobia. It is an escape
act that requires him to be bound in darkness, his greatest
He tells himself he is not there to rekindle things with
Joy. He must keep an eye on her as she has business
dealings with the suspected smuggler. Her barn is a
convenient place to rehearse his act and Joy is in need of
a farm hand. He finds himself living in her caretaker's
cottage. The old chemistry is still at work though, and try
as he might, Zeus can't seem to keep the pair apart. The
man he's chosen for her isn't being very cooperative and
Joy's prospective boss (the suspected smuggler) has designs
on her as well. In no time Mark's protective instincts
toward Joy kick in and finding the book is no longer his
Hera steps in before Zeus makes a total mess of things.
She's convinced that two "wrongs" DO make a right and the
two switch tactics. This should be easy. Wrong! Though they
are deeply in love, Joy has grown up and has realized that
she and Mark need different things. She won't make another
mistake. Mark too realizes that he can't give Joy the one
thing she needs most. Joy needs stability; Mark needs
freedom. Can the two "gods" help Joy to find her wings with
Mark, or Mark to find his roots with Joy? Will Hera finally
I liked this book a lot because the author respected the
reader and didn't take the easy way out with the ending.
Compromise is the order of the day and one feels certain
everything will work out fine. She also gave us some lovely
side characters, who didn't overshadow the main ones but
definitely have possibilities for the continuation of the
series, and a truly despicable villain as well. All in all
it was a fun read.
Leslie Tramposch - Copyright © 2000
for PNR as written for UReviewIT
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted January 3, 2002