This is a collection of novellas set in Caswell’s Galactic Pantheon Series. You do not need to have read the previous books in the series to understand this one… although it likely would help.
This is a world where Earth was destroyed eons ago but humanity managed to escape to colonize several disparate worlds. Overwhelmed by the boom in population and wanting to take a break, the Creator God fathered fifty or so “lesser gods” to have domain over the various regions/biomes/worlds. There’s the God of Ice, the Goddess of Fire, the God of Deserts, the Goddess of Tundra, etc. It’s an interesting concept and definitely one Caswell has put a lot of work into developing. While I didn’t feel like I needed to read the previous two novels, it probably would add to the experience… especially since the novels and novellas do build off of each other. As I do with all anthologies, I will rate each story separately and then average the ratings together for the overall total.
The Flickering Flame
Finara the Goddess of Fire is just looking for a good time and good publicity, but when she encounters the former mediaist (that’s a reporter) Grace Pendergast on one of her worlds, her goals shift. Wracked by guilt over a story she broke, Grace is looking for a way to self-immolate… literally. Can Finara convince Grace to tell her story? And will Grace forgive herself to find love? This is a very well done lesbian romance. It features an amputee character of color who is kind of awesome and amazeballs. The story gets so many points for not lessening Grace’s disability nor for magically curing it. Frankly this is my favorite story of the bunch - Five stars.
The Shifting Ice
Stock photo photographer and adventurer Dom Zhang is in a bit of trouble… and by bit of trouble he’s mostly dead. He probably shouldn’t have climbed that ice mountain, but the views were too spectacular to pass up. When the God of Ice, Rasson, saves him, Rasson makes Dom a surprising offer – Marry him and be Rasson’s consort and Dom will live forever and be able to explore the galaxy to his heart’s content. There’s just one little problem… namely that Dom’s not the marrying type. Or the faithful type. Or interested in hooking up with a being he considers his kidnapper. But there’s more to both Dom and Rasson and as things shift the more is revealed. This is a good gay romance, however it was probably my least favorite in the collection. There’s some pretty major gaslighting going on by one of the common side characters and there’s a bit of dubious consent/bad BDSM behavior (in that things that happened were not negotiated first.) Ultimately I did enjoy this story but compared to the first story in this collection, it didn’t measure up. – Four stars.
The Whispering Grass
When assassin Sanyul Bello returns to his home planet, he has one goal – kill the Goddess of the Savannah, Isabis. He fails. As punishment, Isabis shows him just what it’s like to be her. Strongly telepathic and able to hear everyone’s thoughts, even though she’d rather not. To both of their surprise, the punishment turns into a gift for both of them as they discover that they are more alike than previously thought and that love sometimes means being hands off. So this was probably my second favorite story in the collection. It features a heteroromantic/asexual hero and a demiromantic/asexual heroine. Yes! Gimme some asexual romance that understands that asexuality is a spectrum and that romance and connection can and are separate from physical intimacy. Like seriously, I loved this story. It discusses that people with asexuality can and do want intimacy and family and children and that there are options for them. Frankly we need more ace romance out there. – Five Stars.
The Creeping Moss
With the divide in the gods growing stronger, the Goddess of the Tundra, Renaei, needs a bodyguard. For her, the choice is easy, Lorne Lavine – the child she’d saved years ago now grown into a competent and charismatic man. A man she could see herself spending the rest of her hopefully immortal life with. The one problem, he worships her…. literally. And that’s kind of hard to overcome. I’m sort of on the fence about this one. I liked it for the most part. I really liked Lorne. I loved that the story featured a transgender romance – especially a FtM transgender romance. However, this is probably the story that stands on its own the least. There’s also some jealousy issues and I’m not a huge fan of that in romance. But at the same time, I really really loved the overarching plot. So on the fence… So I’m going to split the difference and go with - Four and Half Stars.
Basically this is a great diverse collection and I look forward to adding more from Alyce Caswell to my library.
If this is your jam, you can get it here.
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I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley