All Emma Keane wants is to be a normal girl, but that's one thing she's never experienced. For most of her life, she's heard the disembodied voice of a man in her head. She's pretty sure he's real, but sometimes, she can't help thinking she's losing it. The voice, who she dubbed Guy, won't even allow her to date another man and is nearly about to drive her crazy. Finally, Guy makes a deal with her that if she comes to Mexico to release him from his watery prison, he'll swear to leave her alone and let her pursue that normal life she wants so much. The only problem is that once Emma is finally successful in accomplishing Guy's bidding, she finds a group of bloodthirsty Mayan priests out to get her. Guy spirits her away to his Italian villa, where she discovers that he is a 70,000 year old god and that all of his siblings have also been captured much like he was. Apparently, Emma's special abilities may be the only thing that can free them, but with a traitor in their midst, will she be able to do it without getting them all killed?
I'm beginning to wonder what's going on with the seemingly recent trend in which novels that are marketed as romance contain very little actual romance to speak of. I've read three books in the last month that were like this with Accidentally in Love with... a God? being the latest. I find this very frustrating, since I read romance for the romance not the action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, humor or other elements that seem to jam pack these books of late. In my opinion, if it's a romance, that should take the front seat with any other elements being seamlessly melded to it and the icing on the proverbial cake. As an author myself, I'm aware of other writers out there who are getting into romance, because they know that's where the money is. I'm not specifically accusing Mimi Jean Pamfiloff of this, but it does make me wonder if some of these authors are writing romance, because they know it will sell well without really knowing how to put one together and most especially how to properly convey the emotion that, in my opinion, is integral to the genre. Sorry, just had to get that little rant off my chest. Now on to our regularly scheduled programming.:-)
Accidentally in Love with... a God? definitely contains an out of the ordinary story premise. It begins with the hero only talking to the heroine in her head. We find out he's been a presence in her life for twenty-two years, since she was just a little girl. He left her for a while when she was younger, but came back as she grew older and won't leave her alone. In fact, he annoys the heck out of her and won't allow her to have any kind of meaningful relationship with a man. Then we find out he's a god (specifically the god of War and Death) who's been trapped in a cenote (a watery sink hole) in the ancient Mayan territory of Mexico for seventy years, and it seems the heroine is the only person who can save him. He convinces her to come to Mexico to release him from his prison by telling her he'll leave her alone if she does. That's only the beginning of a crazy adventure that involves more gods and goddesses, a secret society of humans pledged to protect them and their secrets, and bloodthirsty Mayan priests who are equally determined to rid the world of them by sacrificing humans. Pretty exciting stuff, huh? I thought so too, and the world building is the area in which Mimi Jean Pamfiloff seems to excel. She obviously has a wild imagination that she puts to good use here, and for that, I give her kudos. However, this is one of only a couple of things I was able to get excited about. I'm afraid I found most of the rest of the story elements rather mediocre.
For starters, I felt the character development was weak. Even after reading the entire book, and even with part of it being in first-person POV, I still know very little about either of the main characters, particularly what makes them tick. Another unusual element in this book are the alternating first and third person POVs. I've read a few other books like this but no romance that comes to mind, and it didn't work very well for me here. In all honesty, I'm not even sure why the author chose to write it this way, because it didn't seem to add anything to the story by doing it.
Emma is the first-person narrator and she gets the lion's share of the POV scenes, yet I didn't feel like I got to know her very well at all. She's a flighty, high-strung, mouthy, snarky spitfire who can sometimes be rather childish (not really my favorite type of heroine). She reminds me of one of those stereotypical, wild, wacky New Yorkers with a healthy dose of attitude to go along with all the craziness. Emma seems to alternate between being in near-constant outrage at Guy and lusting after him. Even before she actually sees him in the flesh (and what a picture that is), she lusts after his voice. I guess I can't blame her too much on either count though. Guy's reticence frustrated me too, and the way he's described, he sounds like sex on a stick. Yum!;-) That said though, I prefer my romance characters to exhibit a bit more vulnerability and the only Achilles heel Emma seems to have is her grandmother who mysteriously disappeared. However, this part of the story doesn't seem to fuel any emotions in her except anger, and the only purpose it seemed to serve was that Guy persuaded Emma to come rescue him with the promise of her possibly finding out what happened to her grandmother. Otherwise, what little emotion she shows where Guy and other characters are concerned is a confusing mix that flip-flops around from one feeling to the next. I just couldn't get a read on her emotions at all, because they're as changeable as the weather and were giving me whiplash. Emma also seems to have a habit of reacting to the things that happened to and around her rather than carefully thinking things through. I was also bothered by the game she played with Guy the first time they nearly became intimate. I thought it was a cruel and childish way of getting back at him when she knew he couldn't actually have sex at that point, not to mention foolhardy considering that she already knew she'd get a jolt of intense pain if things got too heated. Another reactionary thing she did was breaking her bond with Guy, not once, but twice, which just didn't really make any sense to me. Thinking her "cunning plan" through is definitely not one of Emma's strong suits.
Guy is the third person narrator, and his scenes are definitely fewer and shorter than Emma's. As a consequence, I didn't get to know him any better, so despite him being yummy to imagine from a physical standpoint, I felt rather apathetic about him otherwise. To begin with, he's entirely too mysterious. For probably more than half the book, he won't tell Emma a bloomin' thing about what's going on, yet expects her to blindly follow his orders. Because of his POV scenes, the reader knows marginally more than she does, but even still, what's happening is pretty murky. Eventually, we learn that Guy has apparently been in love with Emma for a while, which is why he acted like a jealous boyfriend anytime she tried to go out with another man. That said though, I felt like his love was being told to me more than shown. I honestly didn't know why he fell in love with her other than the fact that she was the only person he had contact with for seventy years. Guy has a bit of a caveman streak in him and is a little too arrogant for my taste too. Basically, he's gorgeous and he knows it. I didn't really care for him calling Emma "little girl" or "woman," but I did enjoy the "my sweet" endearments. Guy's seeming obsession with cookies, both baking and eating them, was rather amusing, but it was only a brief, occasional thing in the background. I would have liked to see this brought out more, because I think it could have added interest to his character. Much like with Emma, the other thing I thought could have been fuller and richer in his character was his vulnerabilities. The only thing that was even hinted at was the fact that he gave up his rotation in the god pool and agreed to become the full-time God of War and Death in order to organize the Uchben (their human support system), but this was nothing more than a blip on the radar. Of course, Emma herself was something of a weakness for him, but since I didn't really understand his love for her in the first place, this didn't exactly seem like a big deal either.
As with their individual characters, Guy and Emma's romance never really sparked off the pages for me. There is very little body language, and an equal lack of emotion (other than bad ones) being expressed. I simply didn't feel much of a connection between these two characters, especially considering that Guy has been an almost constant presence in Emma's head for years. It didn't help either that Emma was attracted to another man for part of the story. In my opinion, that only served to further water down the already virtually non-existent connection with Guy. I'm also not really a fan of love/hate relationships, which is essentially what theirs is. It frankly doesn't make much sense to me how two people can simultaneously love and hate one another. Emma constantly goes back and forth between lusting after Guy and very vocally hating on him. Another thing I don't care for are couples who spend most of the story bickering like Guy and Emma did. I just don't find that romantic, because again, I can't fathom how two people who fight all the time can have a happy future together. It took until the halfway point in the story for even the slightest bit of emotion or vulnerability to surface between these two, but it still wasn't nearly enough. I felt an overabundance of anger, annoyance, irritation, and lust, but can't say that I ever once truly felt the love connection.
Perhaps part of the reason I never felt any love between them is because Guy and Emma have terrible communication. You'd think that after him living inside her head for twenty-two years, she might know the man a little bit better and have developed some trust in him, but nothing could be further from the truth. Part of their trust issues are Guy's fault for holding back nearly all the pertinent information about himself, for which I quite frankly didn't see a compelling reason. As a result, and not surprisingly, Emma doesn't trust him one iota. Trust is something that, in my opinion, is crucial for a relationship to work, possibly equal to if not greater than love. Even after meeting face-to-face, Emma and Guy still don't communicate any better. Some of their exchanges and circular, internal reasonings were so wacky and complicated they made my head spin. When they're not trying to be cute, they're both holding back all sorts of important stuff, most especially their feelings. When Guy started spouting off a bunch of lies late in the story, ostensibly to "protect" Emma, I rolled my eyes in utter frustration and disbelief. I don't know how these two can possibly spend an eternity together and genuinely be happy when they can't trust each other and never know when the other is telling the truth. When Guy finally did come clean about his feelings, it was too little too late, and I wasn't able to muster much enthusiasm for the moment.
One other thing I applaud the author for is making both characters virgins. I think this is only the second romance I've read in which this was the case. However, it wasn't quite the momentous occasion I would have hoped for. Despite their inexperience, both are certainly quite knowledgeable about sex and have no qualms about it whatsoever. In fact, they both seem quite eager to "get it on" and even have a rather flippant attitude about doing so. A few different times they (especially Emma) treat her virginity as a nuisance that she needs to be rid of, which I didn't care for at all. I admit it's a personal opinion, but since you can only lose your virginity once, I consider it to be something special that should be shared with someone special, not just a "let's get it over with" event. If the deflowering alone had been treated throughout as a cherished moment that should be relished, it would have gone a long way toward improving the emotional connection, because it would have allowed for a more tender expression of love between them. I admit that when they finally got there (which didn't happen until the very end of the book), they did take their time. In spite of that though, it was more told than shown, so the love scene was nothing particularly special for me. I've read far better.
Besides the relationship stuff, there were a few other bothersome things too. First off is the height difference between Guy and Emma. He is a full foot and half taller than her. Even on her tip toes, she wouldn't be able to reach his lips, but yet she does regularly without difficulty. In reality, he would either have to do some serious bending down or lifting her up, but that never happens. Another thing that lacked credibility for me was the ease with which Guy's right hand man acquiesced to Emma going on the rescue mission to Mexico with them. It really made no sense to me at all, except as a weak excuse to get Emma to the jungle and into harms way for the climax, which, by the way, was rather disappointing too. Considering how evil and powerful the villain had become, I felt he was dispatched far too easily. And what was with the weird ending? Everything was going along smoothly with all the plot points wrapping up nicely, and then in the final moments of the book, the author drops a bombshell which she proceeded to leave hanging. Opening excerpts for the next three books of the series are included at the end of this one, yet after skimming them it seems there may not be much, if any, resolution to that final revelation.
There were a couple of secondary characters introduced in Accidentally in Love with... a God? who go on to have their own novellas later in the Accidentally Yours series. Cimil, the Goddess of the Underworld, reminds me of a slightly nicer version of Artemis from Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series. She become the heroine of Accidentally... Cimil?. The other one is Chaam. While he was certainly physically attractive, he was so evil, I don't know that I could buy into him as a hero, but that's apparently exactly what he becomes in Accidentally... Evil?. Otherwise, I can't tell that there are any other carry-over characters from this book.
Overall, I'm giving Accidentally in Love with... a God? three stars for the intriguing world building and the mechanics of the writing being sound, but the romance just didn't do it for me. Fans of light, fluffy paranormal romance, love/hate relationships, romantic comedy full of silliness and featuring a snarky heroine, or readers who just want a little man candy to parade in front of their mind's eye will probably enjoy this one a lot more than I did. As is though, it was simply an OK read for me. It didn't tickle my funny bone the way I think it was supposed to, and I'm not sure whether I'll continue with the series or not. Maybe if I see a review that gives me some hope that the romance and character development is stronger in the next book, I might consider it, or if I come upon a rainy day and have nothing else to read (yeah, right like that's going to happen :-)). It definitely won't be at the top of my TBR list though, so all I can say is we'll see.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via GoodReads FirstReads in exchange for an honest review.
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