Alex’s vacation isn’t going as planned. Traveling from Australia to England is scary enough, but an ongoing delay means he might end up missing his connecting flight and causes Alex to have a panic attack. Then he decides to treat himself to hot chocolate as a reward for getting through this … and it ends up all over someone else’s shirt. Then there’s the mugging, the rescue, the cultists, two people using what looks like magic … no, this is not the vacation he wanted. What Alex wants now is to go home.
Instead, Alex finds himself whisked away — literally — into the arms of a tall, dark, and handsome man who calls to his very soul. It turns out Alex isn’t mortal by any stretch of the imagination. He is, in fact, several thousand years old and the son of a goddess. And not just any goddess, but Aphrodite. The man who rescued him, Nikos, is also ancient, and a Spartan, and his co-rescuer, Jin, is an equally ancient magic user, a descendant of Hekate.
It’s a lot to take in, but somehow Alex must. With a cult of god killers chasing after him, he has no choice. It’s time for Alex to stop being human and rise to his divine abilities. Now … if he could only figure out how.
The Last Son of Venus contains explicit scenes of torture, attempted rape, homophobia, hate speech, and murder, including the murder of child, and the castration and genital torture of a gay man. If this is subject matter that makes you uncomfortable, then I strongly urge you to avoid this book. This story also ends on a cliffhanger, but as it’s the first volume in the series, a sequel is promised.
Alex is a young man who lives very much in his own head. He’s insecure about his looks and suffers from anxiety at the beginning of the book — though that anxiety seems to fall away once he has Nicos at his side. He is also very self-centered and self-focused, able to put aside the murder of his parents once Nikos and Jin inform him that he’s the son of Aphrodite. He is a strong mage when he isn’t thinking about it, and willing to go with the current so long as the current is going somewhere he likes. When Alex doesn’t want to do something — like follow a stranger, or sit quietly in a room — he will do something about it. While he has his passive moments, especially around Nikos, he is very much a character with agency and wit.
Nikos is an ancient spartan used to being the tallest, strongest, meanest asshole in the room, and one look at Alex makes him feel all sorts of protective feelings. And not just protective. While he knows he’s there to be Alex’s protector, he wants nothing more than to see Alex sobbing beneath him or riding his cock, and when the moment comes … he puts aside his duty and gives into temptation. Nikos would be delighted with a daddy and boy relationship, with him calling the shots and Alex being a sweet and charming young lover. Alex, though, while pliant and devoted, is far from obedient.
The world building, the magic system, and the small rituals and ceremonies are the best parts of this book. The black tarot cards, the Dea Tacita Agency (DTA) responsible for mortal and divine magic … I really enjoyed it. While I wasn’t entirely a fan of the characters, finding Alex to be too easily shaped by the needs of the story with his character traits and personality shifting from moment to moment, and Niko to be too two-dimensional, I could see potential. Unfortunately, I had an issue with the author’s writing style. Dion Marc chose to use sound effects, often in caps, rather than narration to indicate what’s going on. Instead of having someone knock at the door, they instead used: “Knock Knock Knock.” Instead of someone laughing, it was “Hahaha”; “THUNDERCLAP” indicated a storm, or “SMACK SMACK SMACK” during the sex scene. I found it awkward to read and, honestly, it isn’t to my personal taste.
The rest of the writing is a bit stiff, with a few clumsy, stilted phrasings here and there (awe at their perfectness because they were perfect), missing commas and extraneous commas, a lot of caps lock, and a few grammatical errors. There is also a bit of casual racism (bloody gypsy), a lot of repetition and redundancy, and strange inconsistencies that might be a style choice, or might not. For example, the Christian god is mostly, but not always lowercase; the devil is in quotations — ‘devil’; and sometimes a character’s vocal mannerisms are accented in text (gawd, or a child’s mawgic twick), but not always, and strange moments like this: “You are the only child born from Adonis after his ascension into his godly form. Which was not long after your birth—” So, was he born before or after Adonis’s ascension?
While the story details and world building are there, and I appreciated that Alex, despite the inconsistencies in character, was a very proactive part of the story, the many technical issues keep me from recommending this book. Hopefully the second book in the series will be a smoother read.