Greek mythology retellings are all the rage in almost every corner of the publishing world—truly we love to see it!—and the romance genre is no different.. From Scarlet St. Clair’s Hades x Persephone series to the buzzy BookTok favorite Plated Prisoner saga from Raven Kennedy and Rachel Smythe’s colorful webcomic turned multi-volume book series Lore Olympus, it seems like modern readers can’t get enough of the lives and loves of the ancient gods and goddesses.
But what makes Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series stands out from the pack is the way each of her novels cleverly mixes more modern elements—a familiar everyday setting, beloved romance tropes, political intrigue, smart dialogue—into stories and relationships that have literally lasted for thousands of years. Throw in some sizzling chemistry and spicy sex scenes, and you have a series that’s both deeply indulgent and wildly addictive.
Each of the novels in Robert’s Dark Olympus series follows the story of a different romantic pairing. Inaugural installment Neon Gods set the story of Hades and Persephone in the world of politics, whereas 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.
The third book Wicked Beauty will arrive on shelves this June (keep your eyes open for a special treat on that score soonish, dear readers!), and reframes the relationship between Achilles, Patrocles, and Helen of Troy as something much different—and sexier—than Homer ever had in mind.
But even though the third book in her series isn’t even officially out yet, Robert isn’t stopping there. Radiant Sin, the fourth Dark Olympus novel features the story of Apollo and Cassandra. (For those of you who are not up on your Illiad, Trojan priestess Cassandra received the gift of prophecy from Apollo, along with a curse—that no one would believe her dire predictions.) Robert’s version, of course, is more than a bit different.
Here’s how the publisher describes the story:
Apollo’s official title is Keeper of the Lore, but the truth is that he deals in more secrets than anyone else. Now that a new enemy has taken up residence in Olympus, Zeus turns to Apollo to find answers. But even his extensive skills bring up nothing about their enemy… Which means it’s time to pull out the big guns.
Cassandra Gataki is a member of a fallen house, and no one in Olympus’s glittering upper city lets her forget it. With her parents in exile, it’s up to her to provide for her younger sibling. She’s forever skating the edge of power while fighting not to get too close, lest she make the same mistakes her parents did. When her boss, Apollo, comes to her with an invitation to accompany him to a week-long house party hosted by the new power player in Olympus…Cassandra turns him down flat
Apollo might take no for an answer, but Zeus won’t. He commands Apollo and Cassandra to find answers, no matter what it takes—even if it means going “undercover,” attending the house party as a couple in order to get Cassandra access to places the more infamous Apollo can’t reach. As the week progresses, real sparks fly in their fake relationship. But if their host finds out their true purpose, the least of Cassandra’s worries will be a broken heart…
Radiant Sin won’t hit shelves until Winter 2023, but we’re thrilled to exclusively reveal the cover for this next Dark Olympus installment below—and an excerpt from the novel itself to help tide you over until next year.
I arrive at The Dryad fifteen minutes early. Whether Cassandra admits it or not, she’s got to be nervous about dinner for a number of reasons. She’ll be thrust into the very pool of people she’s spent twelve years avoiding. Not to mention this is where our fake relationship either launches…or crashes and burns.
We should have done a dry run somewhere private. Except that’s not logical either, because despite working with Cassandra for five years, we’ve never been properly alone. Even though no one works in our immediate area—the closest is Hector with his office down the hall—we’re not really isolated. Cassandra has skipped every work party and after-hours event. Not that I blame her, but I can’t help looking for her during the ones I’m obligated to attend.
Now we’re supposed to be dating.
I can’t believe I even suggested this plan, let alone allowed Zeus to bully his way into ensuring it happened even after her initial refusal. My reputation is more pristine than some of my peers, but this will be a black mark for certain. Or, rather, it will be confirmation that I’m no better than the others. Dating my assistant? How cliché. The gossip magazines will be salivating at even the slightest hint of scandal.
It’s still less a price than I’m asking Cassandra to play.
I turn…and freeze.
Cassandra stands a few feet away. She wears her hair like normal, an undisturbed glossy fall of deep red. Her hair always catches my eye first. I’m still not sure if it’s natural or not. I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I try to keep my gaze on her face, on her artfully smoky eyes and dark red lips. Truly, I do. But even as I tell myself to stop it, I can’t help sweeping my gaze over her.
In all the time we’ve worked together, I’ve gotten used to Cassandra in a particular kind of clothing. Yes, she wears pencil skirts that hug her wide hips and big ass in a way that has inspired more fantasies than I care to admit. But she also trends toward high-necked frilly tops that might hint at her generous chest but never more than hint.
Her dress tonight is worlds different. It’s a dark gray that’s almost black, setting off her pale skin and highlighting her hair. It’s also got a deep V in the front that shows off more than a hint of cleavage. So much more than a hint. I can’t stop myself from following the line of the fabric to her waist, where it flares in folds that make her hips seem wider than normal before narrowing down to hug her calves. It’s got a slight split in the front, probably to allow her to walk. Red heels complete the look, taller than she normally wears. With those heels on, she might reach past my shoulder. The thought makes my chest thump painfully.
“Apollo.” There’s something in her voice. Not her normal snark or dry wit. No, it’s almost panic
Because I’m standing here, gawking at her like she’s an animal in a cage. I’m her boss and I’m ogling her and making her uncomfortable. I’m acting like an unforgivable jerk. I give myself a shake. “You look adequate.”
“Adequate.” She blinks. “Be sure to pass your thoughts along to Zeus when he sees the bill.”
Adequate. What am I saying? The dress is a masterpiece. I want to run my hands over it, following the folds. I want to kneel at her feet and start my way from the bottom. Or, better, start at the top. I want to peel the damn thing off her and…
I close my eyes, striving for focus. “You look lovely. I’m sorry. You caught me off guard.”
“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment but thanks.”
I open my eyes to find her studying the restaurant behind me. She’s not worrying her bottom lip the way she does when she’s nervous, but it’s a near thing. “So I guess we’re doing this.”
“It’s not too late to change your mind.”
She sends me an arch look. “I’m sure Zeus would have something to say about that.”
Without a doubt, but I’d rather tangle with Zeus than put her in a position where she feels unsafe. “Let me handle Zeus.”
Cassandra studies me for a long moment and shakes her head, her mouth pulling into a wry smile. “No, Apollo. I said yes and I plan to hold him to his end of the bargain. I won’t give him reason to say I didn’t do what I promised. Let’s get these tongues wagging.”
I want to keep arguing, but we’re already drawing looks. It’s too late. She won’t change her mind, so the least I can do is make this as painless for her as possible. I turn smoothly and offer my arm. “Shall we?”
“By all means.” She places her hand gingerly in the crook of my arm.
I should leave it at that, but she’s right. If we’re going to do this, we need to sell it. “Cassandra,” I say softly. I wait for her to look up at me to continue. This close, her citrus scent threatens to derail my thoughts, but I power through. “You’ve seen me date other people.”
She’s smart. She connects the dots almost instantly. Her mouth goes tight and then relaxes into a surprisingly convincing smile. “Right. Sorry.” She takes a deep breath and leans into me, shifting one hand up to cup my bicep and wrapping her free one around my forearm. The new position has her breasts pressing against my arm and my hand is far too close to the juncture of her thighs and…
I almost break away. I actually tense to put some distance between us before I remember that this is the whole point. I might not touch my employee like this, but I certainly would touch someone I was dating. More, I’m known for it. Not effusive public displays of affection, but the casual intimacy that lets everyone in the room know who this person is to me.
The faint concern in her tone grounds me. I manage a smile, give myself one last mental shake, and force myself to make the switch to my public persona. I’ve been Apollo long enough that I don’t have to bother playing games when I don’t want to, but old habits die hard. Before I held the title, I had to play harder than anyone. I can do so again.
I give Cassandra a charming grin and can’t help the slight vindication at the way she goes a little soft before she catches herself. If I tried to seduce this woman… Would she be just as sweet beneath the harsh exterior as I suspect? Would she go soft for me, let down her walls, and let me take care of her?
I’ll never know.
This isn’t real. It will never be real, because after Minos’s party has wrapped up, Cassandra will take her sister and leave Olympus once and for all. I’ll never see her again.
Radiant Sin will officially hit shelves in February 2023.
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.