Review: "The Goddess Test" by Aimée Carter

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I’m pretty sure I'm on record as saying I'm terribly bored with the standard romance trope of the "superior" male. You know, when the male hero is richer, socially superior and older than the heroine.  Especially that last one -- older.  In an era of vampires romancing teenage girls,there are way too many novels featuring an age gap that, frankly, is just ugly with sparkles painted on.

I mean really, what does a teenage girl have to offer an older man?  Yeah, admit it, you thought that too.

So when I received The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter as an electronic ARC, I didn't hold out much hope.  I figured as a Harlequin Teen book it wouldn't be explicit but the cover copy is pretty sappy: "Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld."

Well, I expected a Goth fantasy with a new mythological character to fetishise.

What I didn't expect was to be reaching for a tissue in the first twenty pages. Ms. Carter nicely sidesteps the whole unequal romance trope by placing the emotional center of the novel in the relationship between our heroine Kate and her mother Diana. Kate's frantic grief over her mother's looming death drives the plot and gives more weight to the story than a YA romance would normally command.

The story has Kate competing to become Henry's wife in order to give her mother a little more time. Henry requires a replacement for Persephone in order to keep up with his duties as god of the Underworld.  Although Kate will be Henry's wife if she succeeds, she is not required to be his romantic or sexual partner, just to be able to wield Goddess type authority and powers wisely. Henry offers to postpone her mother's death until Kate passes or fails the seven tests that will determine if she becomes a Goddess.

Henry remains a suitably distant and stern figure for most of the novel.  His grief at the loss of Persephone and his rather flat affect, is supposed to indicate his remote Godlike nature, as someone who has never been human.  Kate's growing affection for him is rather tepidly rendered.  But that's not a huge criticism, as I don't think the novel could sustain two relationships that are as emotionally intense as the one between Kate and her mother.

By the end of the book, Kate comes to terms with her mother's death. So while The Goddess Test might make you cry unexpectedly in the beginning; the end of the story  sees the loose ends nicely tidied up. But not too tidy as there will be a sequel released next year.

So, please check out The Goddess Test, recommended to you by WebGenii.

The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN; Original edition (April 19 2011)
ISBN - 10: 0373210264
ISBN - 13: 978-0373210268

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