BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: A.K.A. Goddess



Title: A.K.A. Goddess {The Grail Keepers Book One)

Publisher: Silhouette Bombshell

Author: Evelyn Vaughn

Pages: 304pp

Price: $2.49 (ebook), print editions vary

Magdalene Sanger is a professor of comparative mythology -- and part of a long line of Grail Keepers. When her apartment is vandalized and her beloved Aunt Brigitte is attacked, Maggie finds herself on an urgent quest to find and safeguard the long-lost Melusine Grail before the destructive (and misogynistic) Comitatus can lay their hands on it. Her quest is complicated not only by her attraction to Rhys Pritchard, a former Catholic priest, but also by the presence of her former fiancé, Lex Stuart ... who has troubling connections to the Comitatus himself ....

I remember when the Bombshell line was launched by Silhouette. I was excited to hear about an entire imprint from one of the biggest publishers being dedicated to stories of strong, adventurous women. Unfortunately, I never got around to reading any of them, and the line was cancelled in 2007. Now, a decade later, many of the titles are available in ebook format.

A.K.A. Goddess is a fantastic romantic suspense tale filled with narrow escapes, buried and forgotten history (or, in this case, herstory), nasty villains, sisterhood and womanpower, Goddesses, mythology, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, true love, betrayal, sacred mysteries, and the quest for lost truth. I am sorry that I missed it when it was first released, but I am glad to have found it now.

Vaughn really did her research. The book is filled with fascinating information about medieval France, sacred architecture, powerful women such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the folklore and landmarks associated with Melusine. Even better, Vaughn introduces all of this information organically into the story; it never feels like info-dumping. Rather, as Maggie uncovers one clue after another, she realizes how it relates back to something she already knows or ties to something else that she discovers later. 

The book is, at its heart, a celebration of women and womanhood and the Divine Feminine. It is filled with passionate and intelligent women who value friendship, love, and power with (rather than power over). During the course of Maggie's adventure, complete strangers repeatedly come to her aid, confirming her faith in the overall goodness of humanity. And the story is filled with Goddess imagery; water features most prominently, but also darkness, subterranean spaces, and (of course) Melusine herself with her bat wings and serpent legs.

Maggie's journey, and her fraught personal relationships, also mirror those of Melusine. Like the Goddess, she faces betrayal by a man she loves. And, like Melusine, she is a survivor, picking herself up and moving on after that betrayal. (Interestingly, Maggie begins to manifest Melusine-like abilities, as well: when she is in danger, her throat tightens up and gets sore and, at one point, her scream of rage nearly drives a pack of thugs into panicked flight.)

A.K.A. Goddess is the first of three volumes in the Grail Keepers series, being followed by Her Kind of Trouble (in which Maggie sets out after the Isis Cup) and Something Wicked. All three volumes are available in used print format, but only the first two have been converted to ebook format. After enjoying the first so much, I can't wait to read the next books.

Highly recommended to fans of romantic suspense, and especially those interested in mythology, medieval history, herstory, and Goddess Spirituality.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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