Muses of Love and Purpose by Kirk Jonathan Barbera

Muses of Love and Purpose by Kirk Jonathan Barbera
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (145 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

In Mythology the gods dined on Ambrosia and Nectar. None but the worthy could taste the succulent fruits of heaven. But in modern times there is no magical food created to provide immortal majesty and nobility—a food to separate men from gods. Does this mean the mythical substance has vanished from our world? Or, has it simply altered form?

In this anthology you will find five stories of men and the burning desires within them; Haxelon, an ex-treasure hunter lured back into the life he’d left behind; Leon, a wealthy ship-builder unable to attend a banquet in his honor, because of the woman he loves; Hanz, an artist who can no longer find inspiration in a dull world; Maurice, a young surgeon who quits on the eve of his greatest triumph; Alex, an American soldier torn between saving his best friend and betraying the military he loves. Each man is confronted with a major dilemma in bringing forth his deepest passion. Can they overcome and discover the modern food of the gods?

Included are two poems that will play and elaborate on the over-arching theme. Although each story is self-contained and unique in its plot and theme, there is a unifying thematic thread throughout.

Enjoy meetings these characters and unfolding the mystery!

Love is one of the greatest motivators on earth, but can it really conquer every obstacle in its path?

“Haxelon’s Great Adventure” kept me on my toes. No sooner would I feel certain that I knew what going on than another twist would upend my earlier assumptions. There were a few times when I wished that the plot would move a little more quickly, but where it ultimately ended up helped me to make sense of certain scenes that had been puzzling earlier on.

It was difficult to figure out what was going on in “Maurice’s Tale.” The first few paragraphs were promising, but the most interesting elements of it were only given a limited amount of space to develop. This was the only short story that I thought would have been better had it been longer.

By far favorite entry in this collection was “Hanz’s Muse.” It had the strongest mystery elements of them all, and I was caught off-guard by the ending. In retrospect it worked well with everything that is revealed earlier on, but Mr. Barbera orchestrated everything so subtly that I was genuinely surprised by how it all came together.

Every character has an attention-grabbing conflict, but some of them did have a tendency to spend so much time explaining what everyone and everything looks like around them that the pacing of the plots was sometimes affected. Reading this collection felt a little like wandering through a fascinating museum with an incredibly knowledgeable, if slightly long-winded, tour guide.

With that being said, the descriptions themselves are precise and colorful. It was easy to get lost in the longer tales in particular because their characters and setting are so distinctive. This was my first introduction to Mr. Barbera’s work, and I’m curious to see what he comes up with next.

Muses of Love and Purpose blends the romance and mystery genres together so seamlessly that I can’t tell which one it favors more. Anyone who is a fan of mixing genres should give this book a try.

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