This book was granted to me as an ARC through NetGalley in return for an honest review. It’s available now.
Persephone Dimitriou is a society darling, living in the lap of luxury in a stylish highrise in the city of Olympus. Her mother is Demeter, head of one of the thirteen ruling houses and while she seems to care for her four daughters, she clearly cares for ambition and power all the more. Persephone puts on a sunny and glamorous front and counts the days until she turns twenty-five when she will access her trust fund and bribe someone to get her out of Olympus forever. Imagine her shock when she is ambushed at a big society party with a public proposal from Zeus, heads of the thirteen houses himself (and a widower whose three previous wives all disappeared without a trace). Zeus makes Persephone’s skin crawl and she leaves the party as soon as she’s able, running away into the night to get away.
She finds herself chased by two of Zeus’ henchmen towards the river Styx, the almost impossible to cross border between the glamourous upper city and the dark and neglected undercity. Utterly terrified, she forces herself to run across one of the few bridges, even as her feet are bleeding and her lungs are running out of air. A dark, mysterious stranger catches her and warns away her assailants, then bundles her up and literally carries her away to his home. The mystery man turns out to be none other than Hades, the believed to be dead scion of the thirteenth house. It’s in the interest of the rulers of the other eleven houses (Hera doesn’t rule her own house, that is the courtesy title that Zeus’ wife holds) that Hades is kept as a shadowy sort of boogeyman, who only a few know of. He doesn’t ever cross the river Styx to get to the upper city, they stay away from the lower city and his territory.
Hades already hates Zeus with every fiber of his scarred being. The only survivor of a horrible fire that killed his parents when he was a child, Hades has been a ruler of his house since he was very young, and he’s spent most of his time making sure that the inhabitants of the undercity are safe and protected, and that he has contingency plans for whatever the other members of the Thirteen might come up with to mess with his people. He never expected to bring pretty princess Persephone half frozen to death with bleeding feet into his kitchen, furious about being abducted one minute and proposing an alliance and a very tempting bargain the next morning. Persephone has figured out that Hades hates Zeus, and what better way to stay safe from him (and provoke him massively in the process) than by offering herself to Hades as his lover. If she makes sure she is publically associated with Hades for the last three months of winter until she turns twenty-five, she’s pretty sure Zeus will consider her damaged goods and no longer wish to marry her. Hades gets a chance to thumb his nose at his greatest enemy by “stealing” that which Zeus considers his by right.
While Zeus always made Persephone feel deeply uncomfortable, Hades makes her feel safe and clearly means to protect her, even from her own worst impulses. He’s not at all impressed with her refusal to rest and wait for her feet to heal or her tendency to go for days without proper meals when she’s stressed or processing things. While Hades may have the public persona of some dark lord of the seedy underworld, he’s clearly a deeply lonely, physically and emotionally scarred man who protects all those he feels responsible for be they the various inhabitants in lower Olympus, his loyal staff…or Persephone.
Having had to make sure to hide her observant nature and sharp intelligence behind a facade of a beautiful, vacuous socialite in the years since her mother ascended to the position of Demeter, Persephone is both surprised and delighted to be able to be herself around Hades, even when that means being intentionally provoking and baiting him. She was drawn to him from the moment she first fell into his arms and rather eager at the chance to share his passions, even the darker, more public expressions of his desires. She agrees to his dominance when they are in public, but finds herself treated fully as a valued equal when they are alone together. With each passing week, the time they have left together becomes shorter and both Persephone and Hades fall more and more hopelessly for one another. Persephone has risked everything, including possibly the safety of her three beloved sisters, to find freedom away from Olympus – there is no future for her and Hades long term. Or is there?
Full review on my blog.