To Hell with Love
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I had such high hopes for To Hell with Love by Sherri Erwin. Just from reading the back cover, I thought it sounded like a great romance novel—exciting and romantic, with a good helping of the paranormal thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, I was sadly, sadly mistaken. To Hell with Love simply had too many flaws, and, unlike with some other romance novels, I just couldn’t forgive them.

Kate Markham is an interior designer living in Boston, Massachusetts. Now, Boston’s my hometown, so I was excited to see a romance novel set in the city (having been exiled for the last three years to the South, thanks to my husband’s career), but it’s where I found the book’s first flaw: Erwin calls Kate’s hometown of Newton “gritty.” That’s like calling Beverly Hills “the ghetto.” Newton may not be the most fabulous town on Earth, but gritty it ain’t.

  
 
While at a dinner party at her sister’s house, Kate meets Owen Glendower and finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. That’s because Owen is, in fact, Hades, having come up from the Underworld to find himself a lady friend, as it were. Throughout the novel, Owen tries to get Kate to see him for who—what—he truly is while, at the same time, trying to break down the wall that Kate built around her heart after her father abandoned her family when she was a child. Naturally, Kate winds up falling for Owen, and the love scenes are actually very good—almost exactly how I would imagine making love with a…um…god might be like. But don’t be fooled—the book doesn’t have the traditional happy ending. In fact, the ending is downright bittersweet.

I have two main complaints about this book. First of all, Erwin pretty much hits the reader over the head with all the “devil” references. Just in case the title of the book itself didn’t give it away, she feels the need to pepper the dialogue with gems like “The devil made me do it,” “the devil’s in the details,” and “the man was hotter than hell.” Not only were such repetitions obnoxious, but, frankly, I found them an insult to my intelligence; I think readers could figure the metaphors out for themselves. It’s a romance novel, not Dubliners, you know?

My second complaint is a bit more academic. Throughout the book, Erwin goes back and forth between calling Owen “Satan” or “the Devil” and “Hades.” Perhaps Erwin should take a Greek mythology or theology class—because they’re not the same thing. Satan = fallen angel, ruler of Hell, Judeo-Christian figure and pretty much evil guy. Hades = Greek god of the Underworld, a bit shady but not necessarily evil. It really took me out of the story whenever she’d call Owen “the Devil” in one sentence and then “Hades” in another. I’m not sure if Erwin herself doesn’t know the difference—or maybe she thought the reader wouldn’t (another insult to our collective intelligence)—but, either way, the two are not interchangeable. I found this devil-may-care attitude (Ha! Get it?) simply inexcusable.

As I said earlier, I had really high expectations for this book, but unfortunately they just didn’t come to pass. If Erwin had laid off the devil references and stuck to one representation for Owen (if it were me, I would have made him Hades, because the Greek figure seems more human and not quite as “evil” as Satan), the book would have worked so much better.

Ah, well. With romance novels, as with life, you can’t win ‘em all.

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