Reviewed by Joy
The bachelors of the ton are falling like flies. One after another, confirmed bachelors are marrying eagerly or even carrying their brides off to Gretna Green. The word among the survivors is that a love potion is on the loose.
The Earl of Vailmont, known as Val, freed of one bad marriage but with lasting damage from it, is not about to let his friends be manipulated into similar situations. He does not believe in love potions. All that his friends need is training, to keep them the right distance from these maidens grasping for husbands.
But what is this reaction he is having to Sylvia, widowed Lady Ashbroughton, daughter of a long line of witches? How can he rescue his friends from mesmerizing, ugly females while his investigation requires that he never take his eyes off the green-eyed Sylvia?
APHRODITE'S BREW starts with a lively, clever scene, thoroughly Regency in nature. That's the prologue. Somewhere in the first chapter, it turns into a different book. Is this a fantasy? According to all the indications, it is. But we don't know for sure which world we are in until we have made our way well into this brew of humor, passion, cynicism, and schemers of both sexes. Author Delle Jacobs has given a very nice twist to a standard Regency character to produce the villain.
As it moves along, APHRODITE'S BREW develops an undercurrent of hatred and disdain that gives it an edge, another unusual element for a Regency. These come from the "war of the sexes," realism versus magic, and society's rejection of anything beyond its rules of behavior. What makes them palatable is the ongoing humor we get from Val's viewpoint – though he sees nothing humorous in the situation – and the lively emotions from Sylvia's viewpoint. The culminating social dinner can only be described as slapstick.
How can love even have a chance, when no man can be sure his emotions are real? Jacobs asks us to look again at what real is.
A previous book by Delle Jacobs, HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS, was an EPPIE finalist, and one of my favorite romances of 2006. The subtitle of APHRODITE'S BREW, Tales of the Laughing God, seems to promise more entertainment of the same kind for the future.
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