Friday, January 16, 2009

Texting Aphrodite by Amy Lake

TITLE: Texting Aphrodite
AUTHOR: Amy Lake
PUBLISHER: Belgrave House
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 81k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $5.00

Eleni Whitby, partially British, mostly Greek, lives in Athens as a translator for the British Embassy, the dream job she has wanted her whole life. At twenty-nine, she has friends she adores, an ex-husband she’s still friends with, and family coming out of her ears. She doesn’t need to add an American archaeologist who looks like Gary Cooper to the mix. She doesn’t care that Dr. Kent McAllister loves Greece as much as she does, or that he fits in with her life like he was born there. Well, not much anyway…

I love stumbling across gems like this one. Every Monday, I check out all of Fictionwise’s new releases in romance and erotica. It lets me check out publishers I don’t normally visit, and sometimes gives me excerpts where even publisher sites don’t. It also shows me stories like this one, that probably get next to no exposure because it’s not one of the e-pubs you hear about on a daily basis. Texting Aphrodite is a wonderful surprise. Part travelogue, part romance, part chick lit, it tells the story of Eleni Whitby, a twenty-nine year-old divorcee working as a translator in Athens. She loves all things Greek, and though her immediate family still lives in London, her extended family remains in Greece, providing a colorful backdrop to play off her everyday life. She hangs out with her best friend, the American Lisa, and her ex-husband Paolo, who turned out to be gay. And if her life seems a little frenzied, that’s just because there’s so much coming at her from all side all at once.

Enter Kent McAllister. He’s blond, beautiful, and should represent everything she’s not looking for. Except he’s also an archaeologist, and as generous as she is, and being with him is as easy as being with Lisa or Paolo. Eleni wants to run, and she tries once or twice, but the pull is too strong, much to my delight.

I loved Kent and Eleni. Eleni was fresh, vibrant, and intelligent, while Kent was solid without being boring, typically male in so many respects, yet accessible without feeling fake. Their romance/relationship is built slowly, piece by piece, complete with backward steps – organic to their personalities – and awkward moments. I loved how real everything felt, like I was going to get caught any second spying on these two people.

Part of that realism is helped by the exquisite painting the author does of Greece. There is never any doubt that I’m reading about a woman steeped in both Greek and British culture. Finishing a chapter made me feel like I could traverse that particular street, or go into that particular shop, and find exactly what I’d read about. It’s rich and fabulous, and makes me crave to be there.

Does the story have flaws? Of course. The plot has a tendency to be tangential, and it can often feel like, “What does this have to do with anything?” Stylistically, it’s perfect for Greek characters, and ultimately, you do find out what all the digressions are for, but sometimes, I got a little whiplash on the back and forth. There’s also one scene that for some inexplicable reason is all told in present tense, instead of the past tense used everywhere else. That jarred me for its duration, but then the voice slipped back into 1st past and everything was good again.

Do I care about the story’s flaws? Nope. Not one iota. My only regret is that it’s not in print. I’d buy this one in a heartbeat. Eleni and Kent feel like old friends now, and I’ll want to revisit them and Greece again. And again.


9/10 – The 1st person POV isn’t as tight as it could be technically, but the frenetic pace exemplifies the narrator and the detail honors Greece.


8/10 – Strong, likeable, and wholly male.


8/10 – Even hung up on the whole “my ex turned out to be gay” thing, she’s fresh and vibrant.

Entertainment value

8/10 – It’s a joy to fall in love with characters like this.

World building

10/10 – The entire story just breathes Greece and tradition. Wonderful.



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