Monday, May 16, 2016

The Tenth Muse by Belinda McBride (review, excerpt and giveaway)

The Tenth Muse  (Aphrodite Project #1) by Belinda McBride


In a wicked game, the God of Love falls to his own arrow, and a gentle scholar learns how dangerous knowledge can be.

Aphrodite has had it.

It was bad enough that her son Eros walked a fashion show in drag, but did he really have to show the entire world his wings? Desperate to rein in the impulsive young god, she recruits the scholarly muse Rees to lure him back to Olympus until the scandal dies down.

After hundreds of years, Eros has finally located the reincarnation of his former love, Psyche. The only way to her heart is through fame, so the God of Love plans a daring campaign to win her back. Yet the closer he gets to Psyche, the more he’s drawn to a geeky young professor who came crashing into his life.

Eros drags Rees into his wicked world of high fashion and risqué parties, only to expose him to danger from an unexpected source. When Rees’ secrets come out, they threaten to destroy Eros’ love for him. Yet when Rees is kidnapped, Eros is forced to turn to the woman who set this catastrophe in motion—his mother, Aphrodite.

Reader Advisory: This book contains some scenes of kidnapping/captivity and graphic scenes of death and violence. This book also contains references to/discussions of rape.


Quite an unique set-up, with the Greek Pantheon operating in modern day. Aphrodite's running a kind of detective agency, but when her son Eros acts up in the mortal realm, she needs an unknown agent to intervene and protect the mystery of the gods. After that blurb, I'm not sure there's anything left to spoil.

 Many echos of Ovid ring through this story, where characters from the old stories are alive again and working out their destinies in life after life. Rees isn't in that lore, and he's an untouched soul in many ways, nearly primed to fall completely for Eros. They blossom together and are good in so many ways that it's a shock when everything falls apart.

And when things fall apart, it's into little tiny pieces--Belinda McBride is an expert at torturing her characters. (For all that, the advisory seems like overkill.) Eros, and most of the rest of the pantheon, are going to have to get their heads out of their undercarriages to save a gentle soul who's endured too much.

The story cracks along, ringing with a couple of obvious questions that get answered eventually, if not to my entire satisfaction. Larger questions do get answered, and in that I was left completely happy. I was pulled along through the story, occasionally getting clobbered with chunks of description, but definitely needing to know what happened next. One character's actions crossed my WTF line, but how over the top is really over the top when we're discussing deities?

One particularly well drawn secondary character is Eros' brother Hermaphroditus, another figure from the old stories who has also been through the wringer. Since this book is noted as first in the series, I can hope Herma, as he's usually called, will get a more complete telling of his story and some lasting happiness. The early part of his story is a matter of legend, and isn't what we think of in the modern sense of his name.

I was left with a new appreciation of blending old storytelling with new, and will be watching for further adventures. 4 marbles

Available for purchase at 



He looked up and relief flooded through him—Eros strode down the hall. He was clad in a long black coat over jeans and a T-shirt. Oddly, his hair was messy and one eye seemed swollen. There was a slight bruise at the corner of his mouth, making it a little lopsided.
 The feeling of dread returned. His entire existence narrowed down to the blond god approaching him, and once again, he was dizzy. Everything was about to change.
He broke away from the other two, briefly forgetting their presence. “Is everything all right?” He reached and brushed his fingers against the injury, and Eros flinched away. Gods didn’t bruise easily.
“Why do you think something’s wrong?”
Even Eros’ voice was odd…strained. “Just one question, Rees. Did she send you? Did my mother send you for me?”
 “W-what?” His heart crashed. For an eternity, maybe longer, they stood staring at each other, oblivious to Barry and Elena. It took Rees a moment to recover, then he took Eros by the arm and led him into the makeup room.
 “Don’t bother to deny it, you may be good at deception, but you aren’t very good at the outright lie. The truth is on your face.”
Eros waited, gazing at Rees, and what little hope that lingered in his eyes withered and died. Rees was at a loss for words. How did he explain…how did he justify his actions?
 “Yes. She hired me to keep an eye on you. To keep you out of the tabloids. She was—” 
“Fuck!” Eros shook him off, walking away. It didn’t matter that he gave Rees his back, he could see the god’s furious image reflected back in dozens of mirrors.
 “Who hurt you, Eros?”
 He turned, facing Rees. “What else?”
 Rees swallowed, his mouth suddenly parched. “She wants you to go home. To Olympus. I explained about Psyche, so she agreed to give you more time. Rumors are beginning to spread, though. Both here and…there. We were trying… We were trying to keep it from Ares.”
Obviously, they’d failed.
 Eros stood, his golden head bowed. When he looked up, his blue eyes glittered. He laughed bitterly, the sound harsh and angry.
 “Of course, it was all for my own good. The timing was perfect. I was able to fob off Ares with the promise of good behavior. I believe I might also have agreed to spend time with him…learning.”
 “No.” Rees shook his head in denial. “You don’t belong with him.” The thought of Eros at the mercy of the God of War…it sickened him. “Eros, you know what you did. You know Aphrodite did the best she could. You may be immortal, but that doesn’t make you immune from the wrath of the pantheon.”
 He stepped forward, reaching out, and Eros backed away. He let his hand drop.
“Did my mother suggest that you seduce me? Brilliant plan, except that she had to realize how…how furious I’d be when I found out.” He shoved a hand through his hair. “I find that at the moment, I hate my mother. I hate you too. The difference is, in time I’ll forgive her, because I know she acted out of love. You though…”
“I do, Eros. I didn’t lie. I lo—”
 “Stop! Don’t say it.” Eros took a step back. And another. “I packed your things and sent them to your hotel. I’m sure you won’t need the room, you can just flash back to wherever you came from.”
“I can’t, Eros. I have no powers, not anymore.”
Eros rolled his eyes. “I’m sure you’ll manage. Aphrodite must have you covered in some way, right? Now move out of my way so I can leave.” He blinked rapidly, tears filling his brilliant eyes. “I can’t believe she was so stupid to send you and not realize I’d figure it out. And you know what gave it all away?”
Wordlessly, Rees shook his head.
 “Your friend out there…Barry. He said…he said you’re like a muse. And I didn’t really understand the literal fact. But you are, aren’t you? A Muse?”
 Rees shook his head. He pressed a hand to the wall, fighting to stay on his feet. “My sisters, they are. I’m just a teacher.”
Eros stared at him, an expression of near-horror on his face. “Gods. You’re the son of Mnemosyne and Zeus. You’re a full-on fucking god. You’re literally the Tenth Muse. Too reclusive to walk among the humans or even to visit Olympus. You came from your gleaming castle in the Elysian Fields just for me. I’m so honored.”
 He pressed a hand over his heart and gave a mocking bow. He then edged past Rees as though he were something repulsive. “Go back to your life in those shining heavens. Bother me no more, Rees, or I promise you’ll know the revenge of Eros, and it will not be pretty.”

About The Author

Belinda was born in Inglewood, California, but grew up far to the north in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. While her upbringing seemed pretty normal to her, she was surrounded by a fascinating array of friends and family, including various cowboys, hippies, scoundrels and saints.

She has a degree in history and cultural anthropology, but in 2006 made the life-changing decision to quit her job as a public health paraprofessional and stay at home full time to care for her severely disabled niece. This difficult decision gave Belinda the gift of time, which allowed her to return to writing fiction, which she’d abandoned years before.

Belinda’s hobbies include soap making, dog shows, collecting gemstones, travel, and Chinese martial arts. She has two daughters, three Siberian Huskies, two Salukis, and an array of wild birds that visit the feeders in the front yard.

As an author, Belinda loves crossing genres, kicking taboos to the curb, and pulling from world mythology and folklore for inspiration. She won the Passionate Plume in science fiction for her m/m romance An Uncommon Whore and the EPIC in paranormal romance for Blacque/Bleu, and in science fiction for The Bacchi. She, along with co-authors Cherise Sinclair and Sierra Cartwright were nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award.

You can find Belinda at 



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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting me, and for the lovely review!


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