‘Cruel Seduction’ by Katee Robert: Chaos reigns in the next installment of the Dark Olympus series

Looking for a Cruel Seduction book review that’s spoiler-free? You’ve come to the right place to learn more about the next installment in the Dark Olympus series, which features Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Adonis, and Pandora.

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I’ve made Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series my entire personality. I love these books so much, not only for the spice (though that’s a major factor), but because each new novel adds another layer to the mystery she’s been building since Neon Gods.

If you want to check out my reviews of the other books, you can find them all here:

Neon Gods | Electric Idol | Wicked Beauty | Radiant Sin

If you’re looking for more Cruel Seduction content, you can read an excerpt from Aphrodite’s point of view, along with one from Adonis’ point of view.

Now that all those articles are out of the way, let’s jump into the Cruel Seduction book review, shall we?

After the events of Radiant Sin, I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Dark Olympus #5. Not only was I interested in learning more about each of these characters individually, but I felt like the fourth book was the point of no return in a lot of ways. After Theseus became the new Hephaestus, giving Minos some semblance of control over the future of Olympus now that one of his children is part of the Thirteen, I wondered how Katee would handle his forthcoming nuptials with Aphrodite, especially because Eris is not one to take anything lying down.

This book has a lot going on. It’s at once an enemies-to-lovers (Aphrodite/Hephaestus) and second chance (Aphrodite/Adonis) MMFF open polyamorous romance. I’ll admit that why-choose/poly romances are near the bottom of my list of favorite tropes, but Katee has always done a fantastic job of letting each individual character shine in this kind of dynamic—and Cruel Seduction is probably the best example of this to date.

Aphrodite and Hephaestus have agreed to marry to distract the public from everything else going on in Olympus at the moment (with the added benefit that it also means they can keep an eye on each other). Now that the city at large knows it’s possible to become one of the Thirteen by killing a current member, all hell breaks loose and the population tries to take matters into their own hands.

The Aphrodite/Hephaestus dynamic was my favorite part of this book because I love a good enemies-to-lovers, especially when it’s clear they both enjoy sleeping with the other but can’t stand to have a civil conversation, even with a gun pointed at their heads. Hate breeds passion, after all.

cruel seduction book review

Getting inside Aphrodite’s head was a lot of fun, namely because she’s been in the background for quite a few books and hasn’t been shy about causing her own brand of trouble. Eris is the goddess of discord, after all, but this works in her favor when trying to pull the public’s attention in her direction. But Cruel Seduction shows a different side to her as well—one where it’s obvious she cares about her family, her fellow citizens, and her role as the matchmaker of Olympus.

On the other side of this equation is Theseus, who is the new Hephaestus. I’ll be honest, I was completely gobsmacked by how much I enjoyed this character. These two have a little bit of a grumpy/sunshine and opposites-attract dynamic because Aphrodite is used to the spotlight and Theseus wants everyone to leave him alone so he can go brood in his own little corner. Considering he was one of the main antagonists in Wicked Beauty, I was not ready to fall so head-over-heels for him. What can I say? I have a type, and that type is “asshole with a heart.” He cares deeply about his best friend, Pandora, and he’s working hard to adjust to life in the spotlight. And that’s not the only major change he’s dealing with. The once promising warrior must now come to terms with the fact that he’ll walk with a limp for the rest of his life, thanks to his little run-in with Helen.

The two of these characters are a lot of fun when they’re together because they’re both used to being in charge. Seeing Aphrodite rile him up is just as fun as watching him make her lose control. Knowing they have opposing objectives makes the moments they work together all the sweeter. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get them on the same page, especially when they choose to spice up the game by seducing other people.

Adonis is Aphrodite’s ex, and he knows exactly what the game is when Hephaestus seduces him, but he’s not particularly cruel about it. Yes, he was hurt when Aphrodite chose to marry Hephaestus, but he’s genuinely attracted to Theseus and there’s no denying they have plenty of chemistry. Even better, we see a softer side to Theseus in these moments, and I found myself enjoying their time together immensely.

Aphrodite can’t turn a blind eye to what her husband is doing, and so she seduces Pandora in retaliation. But like Theseus and Adonis, Pandora’s not ignorant to what’s really happening, nor is she immune to their wild chemistry. Though Theseus and Pandora are strictly platonic, it still rankles him to see his best friend with his wife—not to mention one of the Thirteen. But this also serves to show us a softer side of Aphrodite as well. There’s something so gentle and feminine about these two when they’re together.

When I heard the title of the book was named Cruel Seduction, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the dynamic. I’ve learned quite recently that I’m not a fan of dark romance, and that cruelty which turns to love isn’t always my jam. That said, I need to make some I Trust in Katee Robert t-shirts because they can do no wrong in my book. Though there were some hurt feelings here and there, no one ever crossed a line that I didn’t think they could realistically come back from. Better yet, everyone had their own roles and individual relationships that melded into a dynamic that works for all of them. I guess this is the part of the Cruel Seduction book review where I say it exceeded my expectations.

Last, but certainly not least, this book advances the overall mystery and plot of the Dark Olympus series. Not only do we learn more about Minos’ backstory and get more of a peek at his other children—Icarus, Ariadne, and the Minotaur—but it also pulls back the curtain a little bit on the lore surrounding Olympus. It seems only fitting that a book centered around Eris would kick the chaos up a notch, and just like in the last two novels, there will be major consequences for what happens in Cruel Seduction.

I promised this Cruel Seduction book review would be spoiler-free, and I’m sticking to that, but I also need you all to know that I am absolutely feral for Midnight Ruin after finishing the fifth book. Eurydice and Charon are spotted quite a bit throughout this one, and it’s giving me bodyguard romance vibes (one of my favorite tropes). We also know Orpheus will feature in Dark Olympus #6—and that there will be a lot of groveling. January cannot come soon enough!

‘Cruel Seduction’ by Katee Robert published on August 8, 2023

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