Robert, Katee. Wicked Beauty. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2022.
ISBN-13: 978-1728231792 | $15.99 USD | $15.99 USD | 400 pages | Erotic/Fantasy Romance
*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*
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.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
Katee Robert does it again…and Wicked Beauty may just be the best yet of the Dark Olympus books. Well, it’s definitely the boldest and the sexiest. She follows through on her promise to deviate more and more from the often-tragic and misogynistic Greek myths with this mashup of the tales of Achilles and Patroclus with the infamously beautiful Helen, with the Minotaur and the Labyrinth sprinkled in for good measure.
Helen is such a fun, feisty heroine. All of the Robert/Olympus heroines have strong personalities, but she’s in a league of her own. She has a dark backstory acknowledging some of her mythological origins (Paris is a grade-A douche), but that only makes her more of a heroine for me. I love her boldness in challenging the expectations her brother Perseus (now the new Zeus) has for her by entering the competition to claim the title of Ares, which also happens to include her hand in marriage as a prize. It feels very much like an adult Merida “I’ll be jousting for my own hand!” move, and I’m here for it. And she’s incredibly competent in the competition, even as she’s faced with complex feelings for one of the challengers.
Achilles has never been one of my favorite Greek characters, because I felt like he’s been built up a lot, and I never really got the appeal, beyond him being a great warrior. But I love the way Robert acknowledges his ego issues, both as a warrior, and more importantly, as a lover. More than once, he grapples with the complex feelings he has about Helen, who he initially thought was a bit of a snob. He also questions how he feels about seeing Patroclus, with whom he’s been in an open relationship for a while, with Helen, reckoning simultaneously with the jealousy he feels the knowledge that he’s hypocritical for feeling those feelings.
I love Patroclus, and while it could have been easy for him to have been an afterthought or be sidelined, as his personality isn’t as dominant as the other two, he remains a constant throughout. His relationship with Achilles is threatened both by Achilles’ complex growing attraction to Helen, as well as the past that Patroclus and Helen share as old friends and the spark that lingers as a result. It makes for a compelling romantic arc, and one that had me happy to see them all work things out and end up together.
And speaking about some of the dynamics in general, it’s a testament to Robert’s writing that she makes some things I typically loathe with a passion (“hate” or “angry” sex) or would view as red flags from other writers (acknowledged neglect of contraceptive use) and puts me at ease. Her care and self-awareness when it comes to balancing kinks and potentially sensitive content is much appreciated.
I love this book, and I’ve loved this series so far. I enthusiastically recommend you pick this up, especially if you’re into mythology retellings and/or erotic romance.
Katee Robert is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Entertainment Weekly calls her writing “unspeakably hot.” Her books have sold over a million copies. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, children, a cat who thinks he’s a dog, and two Great Danes who think they’re lap dogs. You can visit her at or on Twitter @katee_robert.
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