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Therese Gilardi

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Matching Wits With Venus
by Therese Gilardi   

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Publisher:  Astraea Press ISBN-10:  1461175461 Type: 


Copyright:  April 19, 2011 ISBN-13:  9781461175469

Astraea Press
Therese Gilardi

A brainy Hollywood matchmaker who bewitches the Roman god Cupid must use her talents to save the mortal and under worlds following a sterile spring.

 For centuries Cupid has longed to be more than Venus’s arrow boy.  When he’s sent to eliminate “Happily Ever After by Amelia”, the matchmaking business threatening Venus’s status as the goddess of love, Cupid decides to steal Amelia’s methods and make his own matches.  While spying on Amelia, Cupid accidentally shoots himself with his magical arrow and falls in love with her.  But bereaved Amelia doesn’t believe in the existence of Roman gods, and she’s certainly not looking for romance.  She’s too busy perfecting the patented personality profile that’s made her Hollywood’s favorite matchmaker.


Disguising himself as a mortal financial advisor, Cupid manages to break through Amelia’s guarded exterior.  As their passion deepens so does Cupid’s guilt about deceiving Amelia.  Cupid’s interference with Amelia’s life causes her business to falter, leads to a sterile spring that threatens the animal kingdom and shatters the longstanding peace between the Roman and Greek gods.  With the fate of the natural and under worlds at stake, Cupid must decide whether to reveal his true identity and risk losing the chance to live happily ever after with Amelia.


Chapter One

In the valley below the thirty foot white block letters that spelled out HOLLYWOOD, between Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” museum and a string of psychic reading rooms, sat a glass-front shop with a rose-colored door. Above the storefront’s small bay window a pink and purple sign proclaimed Happily Ever After By Amelia. Inside, Amelia Coillard stretched out her hands to receive a large almond vanilla pie.
“It took me all night to make this,” a tall woman wearing an enormous pear shaped diamond on her left hand said, “But I wanted you to know how grateful I am. Really, Amelia, you’re the best. David and I want to invite you to our wedding. On June twenty-first.”
Amelia bowed slightly and smiled.
“Glad we could help Susanna. Don’t forget to tell your friends about us.”
The woman nodded, then strode past the wrought iron café table where Amelia interviewed clients, out onto the empty sidewalk.
“We’ve got another wedding, “ Amelia called out to her assistant Jennie as she stepped into the back room and placed the pie on a distressed pine sideboard, next to the boxes of chocolates, baskets of figs, bottles of champagne, potpourri sachets and bundles of beeswax candles she’d received from satisfied clients.
“Let me guess,” Jennie replied, rubbing her hands together. “The summer solstice.”
Amelia nodded.
“Flowers in bloom, longer days, baby animals at the zoo. It all means only one thing: June brides. I don’t know how people can be so hopeful.”
“Hmm, well you’d better get ready. Your first client will be in to fill out her patented personality profile in ten minutes. You know, she actually asked me if I’d mail her the profile and let her fill it out at home! As if we’d release your proprietary secrets!”
“I don’t know what I’d do without you to look after me.” Amelia chuckled.
She reached inside the little cupboard in the corner and withdrew the fitted white crocheted sweater she’d gotten two years ago at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. The seller had told her the cardigan had been part of the trousseau of one of the old stars who’d lived up in the Hollywood Hills. Amelia wasn’t sure she believed the woman’s story, but the sweater’s delicate pattern reminded her of wedding lace, so she wore it every time she met with a client. And, though she never told Jennie, Amelia was convinced that the sweater from another woman’s trousseau was as close as she’d ever come to clothing herself in bridal wear.
While Amelia was pulling the sweater over her black mini-dress and adjusting her wavy auburn hair over its pearl trimmed collar, she saw a photo smiling out at her from the back of the cupboard. Inside the silver frame stood an extremely thin young man, his eyes protruding below penciled on eyebrows, a blue bandana wrapped around his head. As Amelia reached out to caress the photo she heard someone rapping on the back window.
“Justin,”she called out to the young man in the red and black leather jacket, torn jeans and scruffy tennis shoes.
Justin’s long hair needed a trim and he could use a shave, as well as a bottle of sunblock. Like many of the others who bedded down on the streets around Hollywood and Vine, his face was testimony to the hard realities of living rough under the merciless California sun.
“I’ve got something for you,” she said as she opened the door.
Amelia scooped up a napkin, fork and bottle of water from the table that held her teakettle. She handed them to Justin, along with a plate bearing half of the almond vanilla pie.
“Thanks Amelia.”
“Have a good day.”
Amelia watched as Justin disappeared into the alley. She gazed up into the hills in the distance, at the faded ocher stucco mansion that stood atop the highest point. Long verandas seemed to wrap around the house, though it was impossible to know for certain if they ran across the back of the home, since the far side of the walled property was not accessible by road or foot. It sat atop a fault line; no one dared venture onto the rocky terrain for fear of disrupting the crusty earth beneath the bougainvillea bushes.
“Don’t,” Jennie said softly as she sidled up next to Amelia a moment later.
“Don’t what?”
“Don’t go down that path, Lia. It’s not going to take you anywhere you want to be.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Come on, let it go.”
Amelia sighed.
“Do you have any idea how many cakes, cookies, tarts, baskets and bouquets I left on those stone steps? Do you know, I used to climb up to that gate every year on Christmas Eve and what should’ve been my parents’ anniversary and leave her these hand-written letters I’d actually sealed with a kiss. I taped those little Hershey’s candies to the envelope when I was little and then, in high school, I slathered red lipstick on my lips and ran my mouth across the back of the envelope. I can’t believe I was so stupid!”
“We all do dumb things.”
“Yeah but come on! Believing in the existence of an ancient Roman goddess AND that she lived right in my own neighborhood? Talk about desperate.”
Jennie laughed.
“It does sound absurd when you put it that way. Plus everybody knows that house has been abandoned for decades. Why they don’t add it to the Haunted Hollywood tour is beyond me.”
Amelia nodded. As she took a final look at the mansion Amelia thought she saw a flash of light shoot out from its left flank.


Inside the ocher palazzo Venus flicked her cream colored scarf over her slender shoulders as she peered through the ultra-powerful telescope she had trained on Happily Ever After By Amelia.
“You have to do something about that woman or before you know it they’ll be tearing down all those statues of me and calling her the goddess of love.”
Venus turned away from the window and looked at her son. Cupid was sitting on the edge of a pink silk sofa, a thick clutch of papers between his muscular hands.
“If you’d just take a look at these spreadsheets, I think you’ll see I’ve discovered a way to streamline everything. I’ll be able to shoot twice the arrows in half the time if I don’t have to keep backtracking. All you have to do is make your matches in a more geo-centric manner.”
Venus held up her manicured hand.
“When I want your advice I’ll ask for it.”
“Mother, please. I’ve given a lot of though as to how we can modernize, maybe even….”
Venus stared at her son, who was looking back at her with eyes the color of Lake Cuomo. He opened his mouth again, revealing the slight chip on his front tooth. It was the only flaw on his perfectly proportioned face.
“I don’t want to hear any more of this nonsense. Where are your arrows?”
Cupid shook his head in disgust and tapped his foot impatiently against the floor, whose planks were made of wood imported from Italy.
“Cupid! Where’s your quiver?”
Cupid pointed at the monogrammed leather case lying against the wall, beneath the portrait of Venus that Remus had commissioned after she’d matched up the first inhabitants of Rome. Light glistened off the tips of the golden arrows poking out of the top of the quiver.
“Now listen to me. I want you to shoot this Amelia with the most powerful arrow you’ve got.”
“Mother, I’ve got a better idea.”
Cupid began to leaf through the stack of papers.
“I said, shoot her! Do you hear me?”
“What do I have to do, wait another century or so until you’re willing to see me as something more than your arrow boy?” Cupid muttered.
Venus pretended not to hear her son. Cupid tossed the documents onto the cherry wood coffee table in front of him, grabbed his quiver and strode across the large living room. His best friend Inuus, a perpetual houseguest for the past hundred years, was standing in the doorway.
“Watch out,” Cupid said, looking over his back, “She’s in rare form.”
Inuus clapped Cupid on the shoulder.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation with Cupid,” Inuus said as he entered the room. “Anything I can do to help?”
Venus she sat on her pink sofa.
“You’ve always been such a good boy, Inuus. Like a second son.”
She motioned for Inuus to join her.
“We think alike, you and I. We both recognize the perils of the modern age, with its dating services, fertility drugs and performance enhancement pills. We both grasp how all these mortal tools can threaten the position of gods like you and me. We both know how important it is to eliminate all of our competition, before it’s too late.”
Inuus nodded.
Venus patted his arm then stood up and motioned for him to follow her to the telescope.
“I’ve got a job for you, Inuus, a very important job.”
Venus looked into the telescope and panned the scene below until she spotted Amelia, who was standing in the window of her shop.
“Look,” she said, handing the telescope to Inuus. “That’s the one causing all the problems.”
“She reminds me of those jazz singers I used to listen to in Paris in the forties,” Inuus said as he studied Amelia’s petite frame.
Venus frowned. She grabbed the telescope back and scanned the street in front of Happily Ever After By Amelia. Tourists in sun visors, carrying large maps and water bottles, were beginning to appear on the pavement alongside panhandlers and the young men who sold homemade CDs for five dollars. Off to one side, Venus noticed a homeless man leaning against a brick wall.
“See that man in the red and black jacket?” Venus asked, as she thrust the telescope back into Inuus’s hands.
“Uh huh,”Inuus replied.
“I want you to hire him. I don’t care how you do it. Offer him food, money, whatever he wants. Just make sure he agrees to follow this matchmaker and agrees to never leave her sight.”
Venus rubbed her hands together gleefully.
“That way he’ll be the first thing she sees after Cupid shoots her with his arrow. That man will be the one Amelia falls in love with.”
Inuus looked at Venus and cocked his head.
“That’s the match you’re making for her?”
“Don’t question me, Inuus,” Venus snapped. “I know what I’m doing. When people see she’s chosen a homeless man for herself, her matchmaking business will be finished.”

Professional Reviews

Madame D's Boudoir
Amelia always believed in the goddess of love, Venus, as a child - but when her parents marriage falls apart and the goddess ignores her prayers Amelia devises her own way to give people their Happy Ever Afters. Amelia is a successful match-maker, bringing love to everyone who seeks it. Everyone but herself that is, until the gorgeous Colin Cumin walks into her shop. At first he annoys her to no degree, but the more time she spends with him the more Amelia wants him. It's a pity his mother wants nothing more than to see Amelia fail, or worse - see her dead!! Throw the strange goings on with the local wildlife and the problems with her business into the mix, and Amelia becomes one stressed out lady. I have to say, I really love this girl. She's determined and fierce when she has to be, and some what vulnerable at other times. She got it hard for a while, and totally gets what she deserves in the end.

Cupid, aka Colin, has been doing his mother's work for centuries - shooting her arrows and spreading the love. When Venus' methods don't seem to work any more Cupid tries to persuade her into his way of thinking, but finds himself sent off to ruin a mortal match-maker instead. However, when he gets there Cupid ends up falling in love with Amelia, and feels his mothers wrath for it. And the heartache doesn't end there as Cupid then has to hunt Amelia down and prove himself to her before she walks out of his life forever!! I swear I LOVE Cupid!! He's amazing!! The way he treats his women - cause the man has them falling at his damn feet - and his feelings for Amelia made me melt for him. He was nothing but sweet, and he's sexy as Hell. *sigh* Plus, he's a God!! I want some of that!!

I really enjoyed this book. It was such a sweet romance with a great mythical twist. There were so many great scenes in here full of love, heartache, suspense and betrayal. I loved how Therese mixed the Roman Gods into her tale. The whole Venus Goddess of Love trying to out do a mortal match-maker was funny. I loved how determined Cupid was to win Amelia over, like when he took art classes to impress her or when he dressed up like a lemon meringue because he knew that was her favorite dessert. Sweet or what!!? And the of course there's the whole him getting teary eyed when they made love!! *sigh* He is such a surprise considering his Godly status.

Anywho, I enjoyed watching the troubles with Venus and her failure to start the Spring mating season unfold. So much drama with shocking twists and surprises. I was kept on the edge of my seat waiting to see how it all affected Amelia and Cupid, as well as their parents and the whole damn world in fact!! There where a few tears spilt on my part while reading this book. As I said before I love both Amelia and Cupid, so when things started to go pear shaped for them I got all emotional - like when Venus acts a crazy head and locks Cupid away making Amelia think he used her!! And then I cried when they finally make up only to have a major falling out again!! Not good!!

Okay, I don't wanna say too much. Just know that this is an enchanting tale which I think Therese has written beautifully. You'll enjoy it, go grab a copy and see for yourself.

Rating: 5 Pearls

Clean Romance Reviews
Venus's power is waning - and she doesn't know why. Perhaps it is because of people like Amelia down the street, who are trying to be matchmakers using science. People are trusting technology more than the gods and their power. But when she sends her son to stop her, Venus may risk more than she was bargaining for. Amelia is content finding good matches for other people - she doesn't have time for another man in her life. But when Cupid comes through her door, she just might have to change her priorities and follow her heart. Cupid is struck by feelings for Amelia that he didn't know he could feel - he certainly hadn't felt before now. But how to help her without making things worse?

My Opinion: This was a fun book with a lot of twists and turns. It is an interesting concept to mix the contemporary world with an ancient mythological one - but the author does a good job combining them realistically. Cupid is a cute character that is just a bit naive about the world. Amelia is a tough character who definitely has been hurt before and struggles to open up again. I love how the story developed and grew to places you never expected. There were times that the plot was a little abrupt, but altogether it was a good read. The side characters of both Venus and Stella were wonderful!

Tifferz Book Review
I love the cover of this book! This is an exciting book I stayed up all night reading! I could not bring myself to put it down. I loved the mythology and matchmaking going on in this book. Such a sweet love story that had me laughing,smiling and pulling at my heart. The characters are so fun and they are well developed. This book has romance, adventure, action and some unexpected events I did not see coming, but really enjoyed! I would highly recommend this new and fresh clean read. I will be on the look out for more from Ms. Gilardi. Hope you all enjoy this read!

Five Stars

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