Dancer Zoe Marshall has never heard of the Mayan Prophecy of the Golden Goddess – but she’s about to. Leaving rural Utah to pursue her dancing dreams, Zoe goes against her parents’ wishes and signs on to the Virgin Cruise line as a dancer. Gabriel AhKin has been responsible for raising his eight siblings after his mother’s death in childbirth. One semester shy of graduating with a business degree, he signs onto the same cruise line as Zoe, only as a bartender. Both encounter a man named Cocozca who believes that he is the tool of a Mayan god.


Wrapping together characters from divergent backgrounds and making it believable is difficult, yet Ms. Jarecki does it very well. Though instant attraction zings through them, the title of the book is very apt. A slow, sweet merging of ideals and desires happens, reminding readers that love does not always mean dropping your pants on the first, or third, date, even in a romance. Both Zoe and Gabriel find inner strength naturally, and together. Those backgrounds, while fully fleshed-out and convincing, were mentioned so often that it eventually made Gabriel seem almost too perfect, with no vice of any kind, and threatened to turn Zoe into a caricature of the religiously repressed, rural girl. Not enough about Kukulkan or Mayan deity in general is revealed in order to truly connect readers to the culture, and the true significance of the Golden Goddess is muted because of that. A glimpse into the often forgotten country of Belize and its Mayan history, contrasted against a luxury cruise ship provides a wonderful setting for a sweet, thrilling, and ultimately sexy ride.


Julie L. York