As the Greek God of wine and theater, Dionysus is the original skirt chaser. Moody and dissatisfied with his life of late, his one continuous party type lifestyle is taking its toll. Even enormous amounts of sex with women of all shapes and sizes fail to lift his spirits. If that’s not bad enough, marriage is suddenly very appealing to him. Especially if he’s envisioning the mouthy, messy and ultimately exasperating Josie Marino, the source of his daily coffee fix at the bakery, in the lead role.
Coming from an Italian family, Josie feels safe channeling all of her passion into the Toronto family owned bakery where she works and knows that ignoring the fire Dionysus Iros ignites in her is the only way to be safe. He’s a bad boy with sinfully bulging muscles, dreamy eyes and with his know-it-all attitude, her least favorite customer. She just can’t help giving him center stage in her nighttime passion plays. Josie is convinced that he’s just like every other pretty face she’s encountered – when you look under the surface they aren’t so beautiful and she’s made it her goal to not succumb to his charms.
When a dark and compelling character makes itself known at the bakery, Dionysus finds himself vigilantly becoming her guardian, forcing the two of them to face facts about their inconvenient emotional ties to one another. Unwillingly embarking on a discomforting stroll through hell pushing all of their emotional and sexual boundaries will either transform or annihilate the duo.
Having been a fan of Greek mythology since childhood, I wasn’t sure what Ms. Leo would bring to the table with Sweet Hell. Well douse me with ambrosia and call me Cupid, this was one heck of a take on the life and times of the Greek God of wine. A perfect blend of humor, vulnerability and romance, Sweet Hell takes us on the emotional journey of Josie Marino, a woman who knows she’s “settled” in life and hasn’t the heart to do something about it, and Dionysus Iros, the deity that lately hasn’t been feeling very god-like.
I enjoyed watching the two of them verbally duel with each other all the while never actually saying what was truly on their minds. What I think I found most appealing about this story was that Josie was a “real” woman – she was elbows deep in her bakery duties and at first glance wasn’t all that attractive to Dionysus, she seemed to blend in with the fixtures. His daily visit to the shop for coffee forced him to take the time to see the jewel underneath the flour and ricotta stained sweats making the duo’s coming together that much more meaningful for me.
The author did an amazing job of including some of the other characters from the Greek pantheon with her own special twist of course. Persephone, a spoiled and willful “real wife” of hell and Hades her long suffering, misunderstood husband added another layer of shine to this artfully crafted piece. If you are a fan of books with men that love to take charge while being vulnerable to their “one and only” I highly recommend Sweet Hell by Rosanna Leo. You’ll find a deeper appreciation for history with this author’s romantic mythological tale!