"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.

Background: 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.

Review: 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 place.

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 fear.

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 top priority.

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 forgive Zeus?

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


Long after she'd given up on his return, Matthew Mark Hennessy strolled back into Joy Taylor's life, bolder than Hermes when he stole Apollo's cattle. But Joy was no longer the girl who had so easily trusted him with her heart. An aspiring chef, she had no intention of being distracted by the fireworks the magician sparked in her. But with a kiss silkier than her custard cream, he melted away her defenses. And she knew the master showman had performed the greatest trick of all: setting her heart afire. ======

Mark had traveled to Louisiana to uncover the truth, not to rekindle an old passion. But Joy set him sizzling. It was not her cooking that had him salivating, but the sway of her hips. And though magicians never divulged their secrets, Joy tempted him to confide his innermost desires. In a flash Mark realized their passion was no illusion, but the magic of true love.


The Trickster
(Sons of Olympus: Book 1)
by Kathleen Nance

Love Spell
June 1, 2000
Available: June 1, 2000
ISBN #0505523825
EAN #9780505523822
400 pages
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Other Books by
Kathleen Nance

Gryphon Unleashed
Dragon Unmasked
Phoenix Unrisen
Day of Fire
The Seeker
The Warrior
More Than Magic
Wishes Come True

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