Katee Robert’s bestselling Dark Olympus series has won legions of fans globally for its smart, savvy storytelling, complex reimaginings of familiar figures from Greek mythology, fresh takes on familiar romantic tropes, and, yes, sizzling sex scenes.
Where Robert’s Neon Gods set the story of Hades and Persephone in the world of politics, second novel Electric Idol reimagined the love story of Eros and Psyche as a marriage of convenience between a hitman and a social media influencer.
Wicked Beauty is the third installment in the series (with a fourth already set for release next year) and ranks as perhaps the most fascinating reimagining yet, giving us the hot Achilles/Patroclus/Helen of Troy throuple we never knew we needed and spinning out a much different—and far sexier—tale than Homer ever imagined.
Here’s how the publisher describes the story.
In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.
Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.
Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?
Wicked Beauty will be released on June 7 from Sourcebooks Casablanca but we’re thrilled to be able to share an exclusive excerpt from the story with you right now.
My attention drags back to the arena entrance as Patroclus walks through. The others have all dressed to impress, but he’s wearing jeans and a white T-shirt. He looks like he wants to be anywhere but here, which is somehow endearing. I can’t help comparing him to the boy I knew once upon a time, sweet and quiet and positively nerdy. He doesn’t look the same, but he’s familiar despite that. Not to mention the man is hot now. No one is going to look at him and decide he’s an easy mark, not with those broad shoulders and big hands. And he’s so damn smart too. I could practically see his impressive brain whirling and spinning out from being so close to me. My personal taste these days leans more toward pretty and vapid, but I can’t deny that I loved ruffling his feathers.
I want to do it again.
I want to ruffle them a whole lot.
Despite myself, my breath catches at the sight of Achilles in a deep blue suit. He’s so damn attractive and he knows it, stalking across the sand with an intent that feels almost violent. Why is that so sexy? He’s exactly the kind of person I would have gone for in the past, the exact kind of person who would have seen my proximity to Zeus as a tool to be used to their benefit. Paris certainly did. I can practically feel Achilles’s intent and ambition. The others are dangerous, but he wants this more than anyone.
Once the cheers die down, a small smile pulls at Athena’s mouth. “And our final champion. Helen Kasios.”
Chaos breaks loose as I smooth my hand over my short golden dress and stride down the walkway to the arena floor. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the greater Olympus population thinks of any of the individual champions because the victor is the one who becomes Ares. With all that said, only a fool wouldn’t start to curry favor from the very beginning. Achilles obviously has considered this, but he doesn’t have the kind of practice I do with manipulating public opinion.
I wink and blow a kiss at the camera pointed in my direction that’s feeding video to the large screens overhead. The chaos morphs into cheers. Perfect. I wave and head across the sand to my podium. Walking gracefully across sand in heels is harder than it looks, but I practically live in six-inch stilettos; I make it look easy.
Achilles moves before I reach the podium, jumping down and closing the distance between us. I tense, but manage to keep my smile in place. Is he really going to try to stop me?
The asshole grins and offers his hand. “Fancy seeing you here, princess.”
I speak through gritted teeth. “You really don’t think I need help stepping up twelve inches, do you?”
His charming smile doesn’t slip. “Everyone loves a gentleman.”
Oh yeah, Achilles knows exactly how to play the game. I’d find it impressive that an orphan soldier had a better public persona than some children of the Thirteen I know, but I’m too irritated to give him any credit. With one move, he’s put me right back into damsel territory. I can’t ignore his hand or I’ll look like an asshole, which is something I can’t afford this early in the game.
I set my hand in his, a secret part of me thrilled by how he seems to dwarf me, even when I step up onto the podium and am technically taller than he is. He holds my hand a beat too long, his gaze coasting over me in a way that feels appreciative without being gross. “You know, last night I thought having you as a wife was just a side effect of getting the title I want.”
“You won’t have me as your wife,” I hiss.
“Oh yeah, I really will.” His grin widens, his dark eyes lighting up with something I could almost believe is desire. “You won’t win this, princess. Better to get some egg on your face now and keep those pretty features intact. Being married to me won’t be so bad. Trust me.”
I glare. “Take your hand off me.”
He releases me easily, turning that winning smile on the crowd as he jumps back onto his podium. I swear I can hear people actually swooning in the stands, which only makes my blood pressure rise. Maybe that’s the reason I forget myself and look up to the box seat where my brother stands. I can feel his glare from here, even if he’s not on any of the screens. I have to fight back a shiver.
It’s too late to go back. Not even Zeus himself can remove a champion once they’ve been announced. After this point, we’ll all be housed in a secondary location and cut off from everyone else in the city. It’s intended to avoid any meddling or attempts to cheat, but for me, it means that my siblings won’t be able to show up unannounced and try to convince me to back out. The only member of the Thirteen who can come and go freely from the champions’ quarters is Athena.
Athena waves an arm in our direction. “Greet your champions, Olympus.”
The cheers and screams are loud enough that I swear I feel the arena vibrate. It’s overwhelming in the extreme. Up until this point, my interactions with the general public have been through a carefully curated filter. I’m a public figure with a public persona and am often featured on MuseWatch, our resident gossip site. But I’ve never done anything like this. Even my gymnastics meets were with closed audiences, a stipulation my father put on me if I wanted to compete. It certainly didn’t earn me friends among my teammates and competitors.
I hope you can see this now, Father. In Tartarus or whatever hole the universe decided to shove you. I hope it’s dark and horrible and you’re suffering greatly.
Wicked Beauty will be released on June 7 and you can pre-order your copy now.
Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.