First of all, I have to applaud P C Cast for standing up for romance writers and readers in this book with that paragraph that she had Mikki, the heroine, deliver to the myopic blind date. Bravo!! I say.
That bit about romance novels outselling all other genres of writing, that statistic about one Nora Roberts book being bought every 60 seconds, and that argument about female authors being just as insightful and powerfully influential in their writing … wow, a stroke of pure genious.
Now, about Goddess of the Rose itself, think Beauty of the Beast meet X-Men the Last Stand meet Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid, and you’re not too far off. Mikki (Mikado) Empousai, the last in a line of Hecate’s blood priestess unknowingly invoked the Goddess of Night, Magick and the Ebony Moon, while standing in to read a part in the play Medea as she was on the way to a public rose garden at which she volunteers to check on her beloved roses one night. As the spell binding the Guardian was broken, the Beast awoke and whisked her off to an ancient realm where dreams of mortals are guarded closely, and where centuries old magick is still very much alive.
As Mikki slowly integrates into the alternate civilization she’s been transported to, she grew to enjoy her role as priestess and the presence of the Beast. The Beast, Asterius, her initially belligerent personal bodyguard but eventual protector and lover, had suffered a betrayal in the past. However, being the ever hopeful romantic and caring person that he was, he couldn’t help behaving honourably towards her yet he has the undesired duty of sacrificing her come Beltane, a ritual that Mikki wasn’t privy to.
Naturally, his heart was greatly troubled by the fate that Mikki will eventually meet at his hands, but it didn’t stop the two from falling for each other. But the roses, which were responding to Mikki’s loving care, and which are essential to maintain the crossroads and boundaries between dreams and reality, came under the attack of dream stealers. Would Mikki willingly go to her sacrifice to keep all that she loves?
No doubt about that. What I like about this novel is the way Cast used the Beast Asterius (he’s the minotaur, a mythical half human half bull creature) in his very humane personality as a metaphor for the prejudices that are only too real in our world. The Beast can easily personify deformity, racism, mutants (X-Men’s Halle Berry’s speech about fighting bigotry and prejudices came to my mind) and other forms of blindness that we are too often fallible to. I like how the book’s central theme of love is about seeing beyond differences, beyond appearances … that under every ‘beast’ there is a person with a heart just waiting for someone to touch and awaken. I was quite moved to tears when Mikki chose to live with Asterius as the beast he is because she ‘would not ask him to change. I love what he is, not what others would have him pretend to be.’
Ultimately, that’s what love is about, isn’t it? Accepting a person for who he is, and what you are when you’re with him, and not trying to mould him into some unattainable and unrealistic ideal.
So, if you’ve always secretly rooted for Wolverine and was a little disappointed when the Beast turned into a handsome prince, then read this book. You will love the Beast in the end, horns, hooves and all.
Bravo again, Ms Cast, for creating yet another imaginative and thought provoking masterpiece. Greek mythology has never been so much fun modernized.