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Bland and humorless
on September 7, 2012
Always the potential for spoilers here.
I expected to enjoy this tale since I like Ms. Folsom's Scanguards series for the most part. The premise of A Touch of Greek had potential--Greek god Triton sent to earth as punishment for being an amoral philanderer. Stripped of his god status, he can only return to Olympus and regain his powers if he is able to find a mortal woman who loves him for his kindness and good heart. Since he doesn't have either of those qualities, it's a tough row for Triton to hoe.
Enter Sophia, Greek-American heroine who was able to see gods and fairies and similar creatures when she was a child. Because she turns him down at their first meeting, Triton becomes mildly obsessed with her. When he learns an accident has temporarily taken her sight, Triton moves in for the kill, posing as Sophia's hired home healthcare worker.
Should have been good. It wasn't. Without his god powers, Triton was merely human. All the things we do on a daily basis should have been foreign to him, things he had to learn, from getting dressed in the morning (he can zap clothes on and off) to cooking a meal. But Triton doesn't have to learn, or if he does, it must have happened only in the author's mind because none of it made it the written page. And that's too bad because it was a wasted opportunity to further what turned out to be the gods' ultimate goal, to teach Triton a little humility. The only vague nod to this was Triton's first time driving a car. He doesn't know how but within a block or two he's got it down. On a stick shift, no less. Right. THAT will teach him. The entire book was like that. Our god hero has no god powers but his first stint living as a mortal and he knows how to do everything perfectly.
And Sophia was, well, a wimp. She repeatedly tells her rotten cousin to stay out of her house but does nothing to prevent him from walking in and out as he pleases. There's an undeveloped back story that is supposed to explain this--her ability to see gods and nymphs and whatnot was considered the onset of mental illness and Sophia simply curls into a ball whenever evil cousin mentions it. I didn't buy it. Perhaps if she had actually been hospitalized or even treated for this supposed mental illness then Sophia's complete inner collapse when it's mentioned would make sense. But she wasn't. Apparently it hasn't even been mentioned since she was a child. A rational adult's response to such references would be, "Oh, please! Grow up."
As a couple, I didn't get them. Other reviewers talk about Triton's growth into emotional maturity. I didn't see it. He did good things for Sophia but each and every one was done for the purpose of furthering his own goals, not out of altruism. I cottoned on to that because the author told me so every time. Triton will think, "If I do this then I can make Sophia fall in love with me for being such a good guy and then I can return to Olympus and resume my horndog ways." Every. Single. Time. That's not maturation. That's not growth. That's how a crafty eight year-old thinks. Yet miraculously, they fall in love. There's some sex and a truly stupid mini-story about Triton leaving Sophia for her own good without telling her why (because, of course, that's what all mature people do instead of simply talking to each other). Sophia is no better. After thirty seconds or so of internal struggle, she accepts Triton's word that he's a god. She forgives him for disappearing on her after a minute or two of rather self-serving groveling. I didn't feel her pain. I wanted to smack her with a stick.
So, I was vastly disappointed in the story. From a technical standpoint, there were enough errors that I noticed. A Juliet balcony was referred to as a julienne balcony. I guess the balcony was shredded into narrow strips. Hyphens and commas showed up in the strangest places. And finally, a personal pet peeve. The author clearly did absolutely no research on estate tax. The major tension in Sophia's life is the need to turn the large house she inherited from her aunt into a B&B because she has this enormous inheritance tax she must pay. There's no such thing as an inheritance tax in this country. There is an estate and gift tax (yes, there's a HUGE difference) but federal estate taxes only apply to estates in excess of $5 million. That house had some serious equity! Some states have an estate tax but South Carolina isn't one of them. When this purported inheritance tax was mentioned right near the beginning of the book, my heart sank. When Triton was identified as the god protector of sailors and seamen, I knew without a doubt next to no research had been done. Triton wasn't the god protector of sailors in Greek mythology, Palaemon was. Bad mistake.
I gave this book two stars since one star is reserved for books I can't finish. I did finish it but it was a constant struggle of trying to enjoy the story and getting smacked in the face repeatedly with poor word choices, poor punctuation, and poor research.