'Playing Cupid' by SC Alban is a modern young adult fantasy that plays light-heartedly with mythology, mixing it into a story of teen centric isolation.
After her mother's death a few years prior, Megan Cooper pretty much stopped connecting with others. With the loss leaving her father unreachable and seemingly disinterested in anything other than work. As he wallowed in his grief, she was left to survive the trauma on her own.
Resulting in the intense desire to graduate early and get out of the small town where everyone knows her history, Megan has just one final stopping her. Home Economics. Unfortunately, she gets teamed up with Jay Michaels.. the local golden boy who keeps disappearing on her and dumping all the work in her lap.
On her drive home, she accidentally hits Cupid with her car. When she discovers he's too injured to do his job, she gets stuck filling in for him.. but the clock is ticking. She only has until the start of the year to find his last three love matches and that means facing some of those emotions she keeps walled outside herself, face-to-face.
The story is actually a really cute concept, though I wasn't personally a fan of the Cupid character by design. The way the Cupid term was used, however.. was pretty creative. For me, while the story was fun, it felt a little thin at times.
Alban did a good job with the Cupid societal structure, which I found interesting and the process of love-matching was tongue-in-cheek. That being said, the Cupid character was well-suited to the style of the book and the story at hand.
Jay's secret is actually the thing that kept me interested. I wasn't particularly invested in Megan, though her situation is a tough one. She just didn't hook me. But I continued to read because I wanted to know what he was hiding. I had some idea, but I wanted the details.
The glimpses we get throughout the book of Jay are the most intriguing part of the story. Alban is excellent at just giving you a peek behind the mask for a moment and then burying.. what you almost see.. again in the next. In the end, I did still tear up a little.
If you just want a quick, easy read to kind of relax and enjoy the dynamics between the citizens of this small town.. this is the book for you. If you're looking for something with deep character or story development, maybe not.. but I did enjoy it.