I'm a great lover of all things mythological. I have scores of books about the subject, watched countless documentaries and read more then my fair share of fictional recountings. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this anthology. I mean that in a good way mind you.
The Pillars of Hercules (Lionel Bramble): This story centers around one of Hercules' 12 Labors, to be clear the eleventh labor (To claim the golden apples of the Hesperides, yes possibly the same ones that drove the Goddesses to distraction and allowed Paris to claim Helen and start the Trojan War). The trick being that instead of Hercules tricking Atlas into taking the burden of the world back, Atlas leaves him hanging. This story, while kind of kooky with the sexual exploits of everything from a nymph to a gorgon to some sort of weird kraken like monster, was really funny. Hercules has a 'grit and bare it' attitude and those who visit him are at least witty. The end, like the rest of the story, follows his own path and ends up pretty well actually.
Arachne (Catherine Lundoff): The tale of Arachne, like a lot of mortals vs. Gods tales, is one of arrogance. And Lundoff does a masterful job of making Arachne one of the most arrogant people I have ever come across (in so short a time at least). The tale is basically the same, the result...not as much. Lessons are learned, love (or at least lust) is found and Arachne is justified in her arrogance at least.
In the Lair of the Monster (Erin O'Riordan): I've never been a fan of the Perseus story--when he goes to chop off Medusa's head to save Andromeda, but I have always been interested in Medusa. In this I am rewarded, as O'Riordan's Medusa is a delightful character. Not particularly horrible, or ugly or even angry by her fate, she's content to turn all those nasty men into stone in return for lots of gifts from happy girls. That isn't to say she doesn't have regrets (chief amongst them the fact Poseidon hasn't visited her bed lately), but she'd made lemonade from lemons. Perseus isn't so bad, and Medusa's trick so that he can save Andromeda without killing her is rather poetic.
Enchos Achilles (Steven Schwartz): This was a sad tale. It began as the story between two friends, two lovers, Patroclus and Achilles, and how they respected and admired each other. Patroclus spoke of their loving and their time, of what he meant to be Achilles friend and lover. Then it became Achilles' tale, the days after Patroclus' death, after Achilles has killed Hector in revenge. I could feel the hurt and the loneliness that Achilles felt, the knowledge that Patroclus had finally gone before him. Left him for death's embrace. Knowing, however, how the myth ends, there is at least a measure of hope for the two of them.
Conquering Calypso (Carrie Cannon): Ah Calypso! This is her second appearance in the anthology actually (having appeared in The Pillars of Hercules to tease and torment him) and I'm glad for it. Arrogance, truly gods and mortals a like are so arrogant when they should be humble. It would save them trouble. Odysseus and Calypso both have a surfeit of arrogance and it was interesting to see whose would win out. I'll let you guess from the title who won, but its a little bittersweet as Calypso is not really a fool and knows that he cannot stay.
The Muse's Mask (Michael M. Jones): This is, as you'd think from the title, about one of the 9 Muses. Thalia is the Muse of Comedy, to be exact. Set in modern times Thalia has lost her sense of humor. Literally. And that's kind of bad when you're the Muse of Comedy. Luckily she happens upon a comedy club owner, Natasha, who is more than willing to do whatever it takes to make her laugh. This was a sweet story and explored a variety of different comedy types. I liked Natasha a lot--she was feisty and spirited and let things run their course.
The Everlasting (Renatto Garcia): This was perhaps my favorite tale. It was about love, pure and simple. What love could do to a person when its become jaded, when love is confused with lust and when love is so powerful that you would destroy the world to have it again. The story of Dionysus and Ariadne is kind of vague in that no one is quite certain how it truly ends. Did she die? Did she become a Goddess? Garcia weaves a story of a grieving Dionysus, refusing to believe that Ariadne would kill herself. His confrontations with the other Gods show just how clever the God of Wine and Debauchery really is and I found that at the end, Aphrodite's offer was appealing.
I enjoyed this anthology a lot. Some of it was definitely more than I bargained for (Bramble finds interesting ways to twist kinky sex), but it made me curious and in the end it also made me laugh.
Length: 100 pages
Heat Index: Erotic Romance
Like a God’s Kiss combines the epic and the erotic, the mythological and the real, to culminate in seven engaging and steamy short stories. With protagonists ranging from heroic Hercules to arrogant Arachne and plots ranging from the well-known to the never-before-seen, readers will discover all new aspects about their favorite mythological characters, and will be introduced to a few new ones as well.