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4.5 out of 5 stars
Goddess of Spring (Goddess Summoning, Book 2)
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Carolina Francesca Santoro is a 43-year-old Italian-American woman who lives in Tulsa Oklahoma and owns a bakery called Pani Del Goddess. After Lina realizes that her business is in major debt and she might have to declare bankruptcy, she decides that she needs to expand her menu to make more money for her business. After looking through half a dozen old Italian cookbooks from a used book store, Lina opens a cookbook entitled The Italian Goddess Cookbook and finds a recipe for Italian pizza. The recipe involves chanting to the Goddess of the Harvest, Demeter. (One problem I had was that the author didn't use Demeter's and Persephone's Italian names, Ceres and Proserpine, but that's not really a big deal). By saying this chant and asking for help with her bakery, Lina got Demeter's attention, and the Goddess decides to switch Lina and Persephone. The dead souls of the Underworld are calling to Demeter because they want the comfort of a goddess, and Demeter believes that her daughter Persephone, Goddess of Spring, could light the darkness in the Underworld. However, Persephone is young and immature, and Demeter decides to send her to the mortal's world to experience life there, and manage Lina's bakery. In the meantime, Lina will switch places with Persephone to return Demeter's favor, and will visit the Underworld as the Goddess of Spring for six months.

Lina and Hades soon find that they are falling in love, but Lina's conscience can't rest because she promised Demeter that she won't let anyone know that she isn't really Persephone, but she longs to tell Hades. She is also worried that Hades only loves her for her body, which is really Persephone's. The other problem is that Lina has to leave Hades and the Underworld forever in 6 months.

While I liked P.C. Cast's first book, Goddess by Mistake, it seemed a little long-winded and dull at points. After reading this book, I see that Cast has polished her writing skills a lot since then. Goddess of Spring flows MUCH better, and I couldn't put it down!

I also think that Cast fares very well in writing about classical mythology. I loved her descriptions of the Gods and Goddesses, and the Underworld. She paints beautiful, vivid pictures of Hades' Palace, the Elysian Fields, and the dark Tartarus.

I loved how much mythology was woven into this book. The myth of Eurydice and Orpheus was incorporated very well into the story, as was the story of Dido and Aeneas. Cerberus, the dread steeds of Hades, and Charon were also mentioned, as well as the River of Styx, and the River of Forgetfulness, Lethe, which allows one's soul to be reborn in a mortal's body.

I also liked how the reader was able to get to know the real Persephone a bit, and got to see how well she fared in the modern, mortal world.

The romance in this book was much better than Goddess by Mistake, because it wasn't just about lust; it was about soul mates and how little one's outer appearance matters. It was so sweet and actually almost made me cry at one point.

The ending was also done very well, in my opinion. Very interesting, and it was actually how I thought it would end.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes romance or mythology!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Goddess Demeter feels that Persephone is to immature to handle the problems in the realm of the Dead.

Carolina Santoro needs help with her bakery. She finds an old book of receipes dedicated to the Goddess Demeter. Following a receipe she invokes Demeter.

Demeter suggests that she change bodies with Persephone so the the Goddess of Spring can save her bakery and she who is more mature, can fix the problems in Hades realm.

This is a wonderful adventure full of magic, humor, and romance. The playful mix of myth and reality is stunning. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maybe if I hadn't already read Cast's previous Goddess books I might have rated this higher. It definitely is the best of the three considering the quality of her writing, the plot, and the setting. The book doesn't get going until Lina changes places with Persephone, but at that point the simple story draws you in and moves quickly. Before that though, unfortunately, the writing is frequently awkward and tedious to slog through. It's as if Cast wasn't interested in that part of the story herself.

This story follows the same outline of events and includes basically the same characters as Cast's previous two Goddess books with only a change of settings and names. There's the ritual, the surprisingly easy changing of worlds and bodies with very little homesickness by the main character. There's the guy she instantly finds true love with, the woman she instantly makes best friends with and who is also her servant. There are the many scenes where she explores her new clothes, her new bathroom. She has fabulous sex. It's all the same as before - just done a little better. This may be partly partly why I seem less impressed by the book than other reviewers here. I hope Cast has worn the formula out by now and will try something new in the future. Also, please, stop with the endless bad puns. One thing new this time is a particularly creepy scene where Lina is bathing while Hades is off in the bushes watching and pleasuring himself. That's not romantic and it could have been left out.

I also can not understand why Cast made such a point of making Lina an Italian who owns an Italian bakery, uses Italian curses, and who finds an old Italian cookbook with the ritual that gets everything going. Why do this if the Gods and myths used for the story were all Greek? Why not just make Lina Greek? Why have an Italian cookbook with an invocation to Demeter instead of Ceres? Probably a lot of readers won't care about this but for me, it was incredibly distracting and sloppy. All these negatives do take a toll on an otherwise fun, quick read and leaving a slightly bad aftertaste, which is why I rate the book as I did.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
With a nod to Greek mythology and a little body switching romance, this book looked to be the perfect start of my summer fun reading.

It was a little disappointing to realize that this is really a typical romance novel. Lots of sexual tension, maybe two actual sex scenes and people falling hopelessly in love in about two minutes-with a whole lot of misunderstandings along the way. Pretty typical actually. This is nothing more than a romance novel.

Oh, there's some nice stuff about the realm of Hades, a couple of mythology references for the geeky out there (me included) and a stereotypical gay guy. But in short this book just mostly has Lina (our middle aged heroine who ends up in the underworld while Persephone takes care of her Italian bakery) befriends and mothers everyone in sight while the author beats you over the head with a stick that says "mature woman are sexy and desirable and can have romance in their lives...."

Which is fine, I understand not all romance belongs to the young. At the age of 18 I have watched by 60 year old mother date for ten years. I get it. The author can stop repeating how wonderful mature Lina is. I would also like to know why such a huge deal was made out of Lina being Italian when all the gods she dealt with where Greek. And while she was in the underworld, why didn't Hades mention that the titans (his parents and uncles and aunts) were in the deepest part of hell? But that's nitpicky.

In the end, well, I did purchase another of this authors books at the same time as this one, so I will read it, but had I not I think I would have lost interest. This is just too much like a fill in the blanks romance novel. Too stereotypical of the genre.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my second book by PC Cast. The first one was Goddess of the Rose. After reading them both, I'm sensing a pattern here.

Goddess of Spring is very loosely based on the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades. Lina is a middle aged baker who's just received some bad news. An accounting error leaves her owing so much in back taxes that if she doesn't think of something quick, her bakery, Pani del Goddess, is going to go under. While experimenting with new recipes to expand her bakery's menu, she summons Demeter. Demeter offers her a deal: change bodies with her flighty off-spring Persephone. Persephone will save the bakery, but Lina in return must descend into the Underworld for six months. Demeter explains that the realm of the dead needs the touch of a mature woman. Of course while Lina is there she falls in love with the Underworld's god, Hades. Much hand-wringing ensues about how he will react when Lina and Demeter's deception is exposed.

Let's get it out of the way: The Goddess Summoning series is a big fat Mary Sue wish fulfillment series. In Goddess of the Rose and Goddess of Spring a middle aged woman from Oklahoma is chosen to be the goddess of some fantasy realm. She goes from being a struggling nobody to being large and in charge. In the fantasy land, she wins over the love of her subjects through her natural charms and wisdom, and makes everyone's life much better. It gets to the point that no body can function without her guidance. This is not a bad thing. As far as Mary Sue fantasies go, these are actually pretty low key. Complementing it all is PC Cast's lovely, descriptive prose. Her descriptions of the Underworld are really what carry the story, because there is not much plot here. From the on set we know there will be a romance and eventually Hades will find out that Lina is not what she appears. The story just meanders from event to event until it reaches that point.

My biggest problem with this and Goddess of the Rose was there is something about the love interest that makes me feel unclean. I have no idea why I feel that way about Hades. He's just so..... nondescript and anti-social. I think it has to do with one scene in which Lina decides to have a bath out in the garden. Hades gets an eye-full and it leads to a rather Ewwwwww moment. At least I know why the guy from the Rose book creeped me out. It was based off Beauty and the Beast so the guy had horns, fur, and cloven hooves.

That's Goddess of Spring in a nutshell. A pleasant beach read, nothing more, nothing less. I just wish Cast could cook up some more exciting plot lines. If these stories ever went beyond Mary Sue fixes world with her awesome maternal nature, I think these stories would take a significant step up.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon August 5, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Lina needs money for the IRS, she makes a strange bargain with Demeter, and winds up switching with Persephone, Demeter's daughter whom Persephone needs by her side six months a year. Thus Lina (Carolina Santoro) winds up following Persephone's footsteps down to hell, the underworld, the kingdom ruled by Hades. As P C Cast tells the story, borrowing a little bit from the legend of Eros and Psyche, and Psyche's journey to the underworld concealing the cakes in her mouth to get by Cerberus, Hades is re-envisioned as a hunky romance hero with a dark side, kind of reminiscent of Heahcliff in Emily Bronte's WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

We love P C Cast's way of making the most outlandish events seem normal! GODDESS OF SPRING is a romantic novel, a sexy one to be sure, but it also has some comic underpinnings that remind one of the 60s sitcoms which reversed reality such as BEWITCHED, I DREAM OF JEANNIE, and MY MOTHER THE CAR. Recommended for all age groups. It will bring "spring" a little bit early this year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
P.C. Cast's "Goddess of Spring" is a "comfort" book, by which I mean it's one I return to again and again on dark, rainy, lonely days -- days where I need some inspiration, and some reminders, of how good love can be. Even when it hits out of the blue, in some way never expected.

"Goddess of Spring" is a fantasy romance about a baker, Carolina "Lina" Santoro, and Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Lina's Tulsa, Oklahoma bakery is in trouble due to unforeseen tax problems with the IRS, while Hades is just in trouble, period; he's lonely, bored, and wonders if anyone will ever show up in his life that's worth his time. As he deals with the dead daily, this seems quite remote; the other Gods and Goddesses seemingly want nothing to do with him, and he's a reclusive loner by nature. Whereas Lina has sworn off men after a disastrous divorce, where her ex-husband ended up leaving because Lina was unable to bear children.

They meet because Lina asks the assistance of the Goddess Demeter through an old cookbook she finds at a secondhand bookstore; Demeter's daughter, Persephone, is rather aimless and needs to grow up. (A good soul, but immature, is how I'd describe Persephone at the start of this book.) Demeter offers to exchange Lina with Persephone for six months, so Persephone can fix the problems at Lina's bakery (as Persephone is the Goddess of Spring, miracles can happen -- even financial miracles of the type Lina requires). Lina is required to go to Hades and learn about him and the Underworld, as Demeter has been receiving multiple petitions and is tired of hearing all the supplication (especially as she can't seem to go herself).

Ms. Cast has an excellent sense of humor, and writes witty, romantic dialogue. She also has a wonderful sense of who Hades is, and who Lina is, and gets their relationship from conception to interruption, and finally to a blissful conclusion that should warm the hearts of any romance reader with a pulse.

Furthermore, Cast sprinkles her narrative with mythic lore, knowledge about gemstones (in her book, Hades is also the lord of gems, because don't they, too, come from the "underworld?"), and interesting stuff about baking and bakers that really felt authentic. All of that added greatly to the appreciation of this book.

The only minus I can think of is that despite Ms. Cast being a former English teacher, there are a few words here and there that don't fit. (I do a lot of editing these days. So those missed words stand out.) Some are typos -- that can happen to anyone, and are assuredly not Ms. Cast's fault -- but some are just plain, blown words that don't make any sense in the paragraph or in the contextual narrative at hand. This is a persistent problem for Ms. Cast's writing -- I've noticed it in several books, including "Elphame's Choice" and "Divine by Choice" as well as this one -- and although it is minor here, it can cause some big problems in other books where the writing isn't so stirring and the story isn't quite as strong.

Therefore, while this book is an excellent and solid read, I don't feel I can give it the five star "excellent" rating it would deserve without these few (albeit big) blown word choices here and there. Those blown words threw me out of the reader's trance the first time I read this book, and even though I know to skip over them now and am basically inserting any word I think fits better (in a few cases, there are quite a few words that work much better), it is an annoyance. Ms. Cast is too good of a writer to have this continually show up in her work; either she has a rotten editor (which I find hard to believe) or someone isn't doing their job when it gets to the copyeditor (the last chance any working writer has to root out really odd words that make no sense -- it happens to us all, but they should be corrected by someone -- a first reader, the main editor, the copy editor, the layout person -- _someone_ -- along the way).

So, my final tally is a very good effort instead.

Four stars, recommended.

Barb Caffrey
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Upon first hearing of this new 'Goddess' novel, I was ecstatic. Having read-and adored-'Goddess by Mistake,' I couldn't wait to begin this new jaunt into Cast's world of mythology. While the setting differs greatly from that of 'Goddess by Mistake,' 'Goddess of the Spring' has a charm uniquely its own.

Lina Santoro, a middle aged baker from Tulsa, OK, needed a fix. Her beloved bakery was in trouble, and she would do anything it took to save it, even if that included paying tribute to the long-forgotten goddess Demeter. While believing the reward for her tribute would be a fabulous new menu item, she ended up getting much more. She landed in the realm of Demeter, inhabiting the body of the goddess' daughter, Persephone.

Demeter explained that the Underworld, the Realm of the Dead, needed a goddess queen to soothe its occupants. So, at the whim of Demeter, Lina and Persephone had traded places-Lina parading to the Underworld in Persephone's body, and Persephone managing the bakery while inhabiting Lina's body.

Upon reaching the Realm of the Dead Lina meets it's lord, the god Hades. There is instant attraction between the brooding, angsty god & the world-hardened baker in the body of a goddess. What's more, the dead and the creatures of the underworld accept Lina as their queen, and, more, they adore her warm spirit and kind heart.

But what will happen when Hades finds out that the goddess he loves is no goddess at all, but actually a mortal? The basis of the story is a love put to the test by mistaken identity, pride, and hurt, and Cast does a fantastic job. The book left me feeling happy and content, and also left me with a lesson: things do not always run smoothly, even for a goddess, but they will work out in the end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2004
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
I just finished reading the book. And am left with a sense of complete happiness. Sounds corny and so trite, I know, but for me there is nothing better than a love story involving two characters so hopelessly in love, and a little bit of Greek mythology sprinkled in there for good measure.

Cast took a legend, Hades' rape of Persephone, and truly made it her own. I expected at first, as anybody who knows the Greek myth, to worry how she would overcame this whole rape situation. However, I won't give away anything, suffice it to say, Hades has been really given a bum rap. :)

Hades, is a brooding, stand-offish God, but not because he believes himself above the other gods, but because his dealing with the dead has taught him that the frivolous natures of the God no longer appeal to him. He yearns for the one thing mortals are best at...Love. And he finally finds it in the soul of Carolina Santoro. A woman who's made a deal with Demeter and has been temporarily transplanted into the body of Persephone.

Through persephone's eyes she's able to do what no other god or goddess ever has, she sees the Underworld as an adventure, exciting and interesting. Not disgusting or repulsive, her insatiable desire to learn more of her surroundings and the delectable 'Batman' God, has Hades believing that perhaps an enduring love really does exist.

If you want to be pleasantly surprised by an old story, and please don't expect anything to be Disney-ish, then pick up Goddess of the Spring.

P.C. Cast has risen to the top of my list of favorite authors. Also if you love mermaids, check out her Goddess of the Sea, another very noteworthy read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Everyone has a "keeper" pile. But sometimes you come across a book that goes beyond keeper and stratospheres directly into the "Desert Island" class. You know, the books you'd want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

THIS is one of THOSE books.

P.C. Cast's imaginative retelling of the classic Greek myth of Hades and Persephone gets a modern twist when the soul of the Goddess is switched with Lina, a 43 year-old baker trying to save her business. Suddenly, Lina has a new body and a dark, brooding God to deal with and Persephone is serving scones in Oklahoma.

The writing is superb, sucking you into Lina's skin so that it is impossible not to fall in love with Hades and his world. The storyline works outside the typical heroine MO. The world building is brilliant, especially considering you are in the Underworld. After reading this, "I see dead people" will have a whole new meaning!

Best of all, this story ventures below the skin, into the soul where wisdom and maturity are valued more than a nubile body.

Refreshing. Powerful. True.

P.C. made a life-long fan of me.

Brava!
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