Cruel Seduction by Katee Robert

Cruel Seduction by Katee Robert
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Dicentra

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.

As someone who enjoys anything related to Greek mythology, I’ve been a big fan of Katee Robert’s ongoing Dark Olympus series. One of the latest releases, Cruel Seduction, centers on the Aphrodite and Hephaestus myth. A very loose re-imagining of the original story, the author does a great job honoring the tone and heart of the source material while still weaving in their own trademark spiciness and complexities.

If you had to sum up Aphrodite and Hephaestus’ relationship in one word, it would be complicated. In almost every version of the myth, Aphrodite was not exactly thrilled about getting married to her husband. That holds true in this book as Aphrodite (formerly known as Eris) is forced to marry the new Hephaestus in order to secure his cooperation in working with the other members of the Thirteen for the good of Olympus. Those who have read the previous books in the series know that both are very talented when it comes to manipulation and politics. Since they can’t physically hurt their spouse, they choose to go for the emotional jugular and seduce their spouses’ former lovers (Adonis and Pandora, respectively). Romance readers who pick their books by trope will be pleased to know that the ‘marriage of convenience’ and ‘second chance romance’ feature very heavily in this book. The whole situation between Hephaestus and Aphrodite gets very complicated very quickly (turning into what the author terms as a ‘polyamorous knot’) and it was quite entertaining as a reader to follow along.

The worldbuilding of each book in the series works off of the foundation that previous books have laid. I’ve really enjoyed getting to learn more about how the city works, and what forces are working against it. While the plots of each book are constructed such that they can be read in any order and independently of each other, I do recommend reading it in order for the best experience. If you read this and subsequently start reading more of Katee Robert’s books, you will also notice that her different series are interconnected. I highly recommend checking out their graphics on Instagram to see the different connections. As a side note, for those who might be going into this as your first Katee Robert read, I do want to warn you that the spiciness rating is very high; multiple explicit and intimate lovemaking scenes are scattered throughout the book.

Overall, this was an excellent read that’s left me excited for more. Audiobook narrators Alex Moorcock and Zara Hampton-Brown did an excellent job bringing multiple perspectives to life with their performances in the audiobook version of the story. I’m super excited for the next installment in the series (due out January 2024), which features Charon, Eurydice, and Orpheus.

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