Author: Katee Robert
Release: August 8, 2023
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Dark Olympus
Review: 4.5 Stars
He was my enemy. My lover. My husband.
And the one man I swore by all Olympus I would destroy.
*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Aphrodite and Hephaestus (and Pandora and Adonis).*
Aphrodite has never flinched at getting her perfectly manicured hands dirty, and she's not about to start now—even if that means marrying Olympus's enemy number one, the new Hephaestus. She has a wicked plan to keep her deadly new husband off-balance, seducing the one person he seems to care about most in this world: Pandora, a woman as beautiful as she is sweet.
Two can play the seduction game, however, and Hephaestus is all too happy to put his new wife in her place. Her ex, Adonis, seems like he'll do the trick. It doesn't hurt that he's gorgeous in the way of fallen angels, either.
The only problem with using seduction as a weapon? Hearts are all too quick to get involved. With Hephaestus and Aphrodite trading venomous strikes that feel a whole lot like foreplay, lines become blurred and emotions entangled. But a broken heart may be the least of their worries. With unrest in Olympus reaching new heights, these bedroom games may have deadly consequences for themselves, their city, and everyone they've come to love.
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Spoiler warning for previous Dark Olympus books!
I wasn't entirely sure how I would feel about Cruel Seduction, but I've enjoyed the rest of the series and wanted to give it a shot. And I'm glad I did!
The romance in this one is the most complicated to date. In the center we have Eris AKA Aphrodite. She begins the book by marrying Theseus AKA Hephaestus. They hate each other and have ulterior motives, but are also attracted to each other. Before this, Eris was dating Adonis. They truly love each other, but Eris put protecting the city (through marring Theseus) over Adonis, which has left him hurt. Adonis and Theseus have their own connection, which is explored in Cruel Seduction. I won't give any details so as not to give anything away. Eris is also interested in Pandora. Pandora is best friends with Theseus (they were both adopted by Minos) but is only romantically interested in women. Eris begins with an intention to seduce Pandora to both hurt Theseus and potentially get information about Minos, but quickly starts to fall for Pandora for real.
The relationships in this book are COMPLICATED. Some characters hate each other, others become reluctant allies, and for a few, hate quickly turns to love. It's possible it's just because I read the book so fast (it took me about four hours) but some aspects felt like they could have been developed a little more. It didn't detract from the book, I really enjoyed it, but the book did feel short, and a little rushed.
Fans of high heat romances will definitely enjoy Cruel Seduction! This many characters makes for a lot of opportunities for sexy times. The only other thing I'll say is that the book included some things that haven't been in any of the other books to date. Seriously, adults only here!
Overall, I would give this 4.5 stars, though I rounded it up to 5 on Goodreads. I was more invested in the characters than in books two or four (Psyche/Eros and Cassandra/Apollo) but still like books one and and three the most (Persephone/Hades and Helen/Achilles/Patroclus). Because the books are so connected, we also got to see how some previous romances are doing (especially since Helen is Eris' sister) and got some hints about future ones. A lot of set-up work has been put in place for Eurydice's book (the next one), which will feature her, Charon, and Orpheus. I like Eurydice and Charon, but Orpheus will have a lot of making up to do! I can't wait to see where this series goes, especially as the overarching plot continues to thicken. I have lots of theories, but don't want to accidentally spoil anyone if I'm right. That said, if you're interested, ask me my theory on who the mysterious benefactress of Minos is!
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