Author ~ Deanna Wadsworth
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 6 June 2016
Genre ~ Fantasy M/M Romance
The name’s Lio, and you may have read the beginning of my story in A Cupid’s Wager. Well, hold on to your hats, because there’s more to tell about your favorite cupid working in the Gay Division of the Inter-Dimensional Association of Cupids.
Remember Ethan? That Aztec god of the winds who busted me shooting a closeted human with a gay lust arrow? Yeah, I haven’t been able to forget him either. Even though I have a rule against getting it on with other supernaturals—especially ones working for the Straight Division—my magic is drawn to Ethan and all his tattoos and piercings in a way I cannot control.
But after that night of mind-numbing sex, now I gotta face my evil ex-boyfriend and a suspension by the IDAC for “misplacing” arrows. They took my quiver, and I have to figure out how to get my arrow privileges back before they’re taken forever.
Ethan seems to think he can help me, but I don’t know how anybody can make this cupid believe in love again.
First Edition published as A Cupid's Wager by Dreamspinner Press, 2014.
“Naughty Cupid” is a great read. It’s light, often funny, and occasionally deeply moving - well worth the time you’ll invest reading it, especially on those occasions when you need to brighten up your day a bit. It’s the story of a wayward gay cupid (they’re demigods) who doesn’t believe much in love after he had his own heart ripped out by a cruel lover. For the last few years (and demigod time is counted in centuries, if not millennia), the adorable Lio has apparently “misplaced” a large number of his assigned lust arrows - 73 to be exact. He’s already had his love arrows taken away. All that’s left is the arrows imbued with the power of Eros – short term arrows that get humans all hot and bothered, but have no lasting effect.
To make matters worse, Lio’s arrows are discriminatory. The Inter-Dimensional Association of Cupids is biased against gays, so the Gay Division arrows have much less power than those of the Straight Division (SD vs. GD). Sadly, Lio is also almost devoid of magic. Though still immortal, his power is pretty much gone, taken from him by the cupid he thought loved him but was, in fact, only after Lio’s powers and his cute butt.
This is one cynical cupid. Instead of rewarding or inspiring humans with his lust arrows (and he is an infamously top-flight marksman), he uses them to expose closeted gay humans. His favorite pastime is preying on closet cases who date women – he hates the hypocrisy and lies involved in denying one’s authentic sexuality (as his abusive lover did, before spurning him and marrying a gold-digging woman). Considering how many love matches end in divorce, dissension, abandonment and infidelity, Lio has no faith left in love, which is not exactly a good frame of mind for a cupid – makes it really difficult to do the job.
Lio has his reasons. When his magic was taken, he almost died. He mistakenly gave up his very source (his magical essence) to the cupid he loved, and were it not for his best friend, the flighty and adorable Walter, his immortality would have been just one more cruel joke. Walter shared his own magic with Lio, in acts of kindness and brotherly love. Best friends since birth, Walter’s affection and ministrations are the only things that kept Lio alive.
As the book begins, the ever-cynical Lio takes an extraordinary liberty with a lust arrow. He’s been tracking this young man who’s about to be love-struck by a beautiful young woman, despite the fact that he is obviously gay (according to Lio’s gaydar, a sort of cell-phone-size gay-detector). With hubris beyond care, Lio smites the young man with the lust arrow (which works) and then, going beyond any rational thought, also shoots the straighter-than-straight god who’s trying to shoot the same young man with a powerful love arrow. Yes, a god, not a demi-god, but the great and powerful Aztec god, Éhecatl, more familiarly known as Ethan. Though Ethan is gorgeous, powerful (he controls both weather and time, spawning tornados when pissed off), and totally straight, he immediately falls in lust with Lio. Lio assumes his arrow is the cause of the almost-uncontrollable passion of the god for the cupid, but it’s much more than that.
In the kingdom of gods, there is a special relationship: the soul mate, a person destined even before birth to be one’s mate for life. And it’s very, very rare and precious. Soul mates may not be sundered once bonded. They become as one, each the missing piece of the other, without which neither is ever again complete.
Their passionate sex, on the fire escape outside the building where the smitten young man gets it on for the first time with another guy, begins a journey filled with angst, humor and enough pop-culture references to bring a smile to the face of even the most jaded reader.
“Naughty Cupid” is not just a fun book; it’s an extraordinarily well-written one. The anachronisms, the application of 21st Century hip to the eternal lives of gods is incredibly clever. The pacing is fast and furious as Lio is brought up on charges of cupid incompetence and fraud as he fails to account for his 73 missing gay lust arrows. The bureaucracy has gone nuts over the lack of accountability and Lio’s cavalier snark has annoyed everyone who matters. He is about to be stripped of the last of his arrows, everything that defines him as a cupid. He’s surprisingly upset by that.
The hearing is beautifully rendered, as his Aztec god (and love) comes to his rescue, sampling his incredible powers to beat down the court and its bigotry, and threatening to tell Zeus what this dumb court is trying to do when they get together on Poker night.
It’s no spoiler to give away the fact that true love (and soul mates) will triumph. You probably will have figured that out from the very first chapter. But the journey, the snark, the cleverness, the parallels with human foibles are what the book is really all about.
And then there’s the message, that beautiful, golden, godlike message: that love is love no matter who the parties are, what their gender is, what background they’re from, and it is all equal and all to be celebrated.
And ultimately, what message is better than that in a work of gay fiction with a gentle smile plastered across both covers and every page in-between.
Go ahead, have fun. “Naughty Cupid” may just make your day. It made mine.