Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Review: Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert
Series: Dark Olympus, Book 3
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Polyamorous Romance 
Wicked Beauty cover
ISBN: 9781728231792
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

She was the face that launched a thousand ships, the fierce beauty at the heart of Olympus...and she was never ours to claim.

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?

Helen Kasios may be stunningly gorgeous and come from a powerful family, but that isn’t the shield many think it is. Her father was abusive, her siblings – the new Zeus and Aphrodite – are too wrapped up in the politics of Olympus to put family first, and she has also survived an abusive relationship. Helen is not content to be someone’s pawn; she wants to claim her own destiny, to be seen as an equal to the power around her. To do that, she needs to claim the title of Ares. But she’s not the only one vying for the title – and no one, not even those who know her best, believe she can take it. A host of competitors and three trials stand between her and the position she wants more than anything. Two of those competitors are Achilles Kallis and Patroclus Fotos, partners who are determined to see Achilles win the competition. Achilles is as frustrating as Patroclus is kind, but both tempt her in different ways…and she them. How can she fall for two men when they’re bound to be pitted against each other on the battlefield? Then again, how can she not when they are the first two to see the real her?

Wicked Beauty is ferociously hot, fast-paced polyamorous romance. It features two hotheads determined to grasp their destiny and one more cautious member of the triad to balance them out. Helen is smart, determined, and possesses hidden vulnerabilities. She’s trying to drown out the voices in her head telling her she’s not good enough and grasp the title she desperately wants. For her, being Ares is freedom and equality. For Achilles, an orphan who grew up powerless, the title is everything. It’s the only thing he’s ever wanted besides Patroclus. There’s hurt and vulnerability in Achilles that’s masked by strength and confidence. He can be boorish, but Katee Robert hints at more beneath the surface, though unfortunately we only get glimpses of it. He and Patroclus have been together in an open relationship for a decade but even though they love each other their relationship is on shaky ground. From the start it’s clear neither expects the other to stay forever and they’re both trying to savor every moment. Helen rocks their already shaky foundation by bringing jealousy into the mix. It takes a while for the three to find their footing, to realize they make a good team in bed and out. Unlike the other two, Patroclus grew up in a loving household. He’s good at strategizing, which is fortunate since both Achilles and Helen are reactionary – they need someone who will stop and think. In turn, they keep Patroclus from getting too in his head. Like Achilles, Patroclus is an interesting character, but I would have loved to dive deeper into him (for example, seeing why he’s so brilliant rather than constantly being told).

Lust comes easy to our three heroes but they have a rocky beginning. Still, once they settle in they are a seriously hot triad. I can see why they work, but I had some trouble with the romance. Robert develops Helen well and I can see how she suits both men. And I really did like Patroclus and Achilles together and with her. They see the real Helen and fall for her just as she is, respecting her strength, intelligence, and ambition. However, the aforementioned rocky foundation to Patroclus and Achilles’s relationship is not satisfyingly addressed. We start to get there at the end but I wish there had much more to make me feel like the entire throuple was solid.

The competition to determine the next Ares is the second most fraught battleground (after the bedroom) in Wicked Beauty. I liked the trials and would have enjoyed seeing even more of it and the interactions between our characters and their competition. Robert gives extra nods to Greek mythology in the trials which is entertaining. As for who becomes the newest member of the Thirteen, I won’t spoil what happens but I am torn. I can see why Robert wrote it the way she did but there’s something not quite satisfying about it. Perhaps had more attention been paid to the aftermath instead of rushing and wrapping up the ending it would have been more satisfactory. Another chapter or two would have made the ending as a whole feel more complete. I wanted just a bit more – even an epilogue – to feel satisfied with the story and the romance.

I have a hard time rating Wicked Beauty because Robert’s writing is addictive and the book is sexy as hell. It’s enjoyable but also frustrating at times because with more depth it could have been great. Helen is a well-crafted heroine and I enjoyed her journey, but I wanted some more from her men. Taking Wicked Beauty as it is, I did enjoy the ride and read almost all of it in one sitting. I’m very much looking forward to what Katee Robert has in store for future Dark Olympus books. There are characters here (Callisto, Atalanta, and Athena in particular) who I am desperate to read more about and Robert throws out some information at the end that has me curious what the future of Olympus will look like.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.