Title- A Touch of Darkness
Author- Scarlett St. Clair
Series- Hades X Persephone. The second is “A Touch of Ruin,” The third is “A Touch of Malice,” and the fourth, “A Touch of Chaos.”
Genre- Dark/steamy fantasy romance
POV- third person past tense
Trope- gods/goddesses, “the only one without powers,” bad boy, forbidden love, yet also fated love
Steam level- 4/5 overall spicy
Cover– representative of genre but I wanted more contrast in the colors
Comps– Author’s other novel “King of Battle and Blood,” “Dark and Shallow Lies”
Plot/Blurb- Persephone is the Goddess of Spring in title only. Since she was a little girl, flowers have only shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hoped to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. All of that changes when she sits down in a forbidden nightclub to play a hand of cards with a hypnotic and mysterious stranger.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. But nothing has ever intrigued him as much as the goddess offering him a bargain he can’t resist.
After her encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead, and his terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows―a love that is both captivating and forbidden.
First chapter- We meet Persephone, a college student who is a goddess in disguise with an overprotective mother, Demeter. Demeter wants her daughter to stay away from the gods yet best friend, Lexa, convinces Persephone that they need to go to Hades’ night club. Persephone is at odds with keeping her identity a secret and staying on good graces with her mom verse learning more about the gods and their dark, gambling casinos.
Character Development- She needed to grow/find her own confidence/power to believe in herself.
Best part- Hades was one ultra-sexy god.
What I would change- more impactful climatic scene at the end
Quote- “You are your own prison.”
Setting- I enjoyed the description of the Underworld, but it felt vague and I wanted more.
Prose- The prose were underwhelmed me for how popular this book is but the premise was enticing.
Character goals/motivations- living a mortal life, freeing herself from dual “prisons”
Theme- freedom vs. trapped, finding oneself
Vivid sensory descriptions- average. The best descriptions were the god/goddess appearances
Dialogue- I liked Hades’ smirks
Diversity- the gods/goddesses had horns, otherwise I’m unsure of their skin color or ethnicity other than Greek. No LGBTQ characters shown that I recall. No disorders or disabilities that I remember.
Ethics/morals- reincarnation, souls, afterlife
Conflict/tension/obstacles- Persephone had great agency, but there wasn’t too much variety of creativity for the obstacles. Persephone was faced wit the same challenges but from multiple characters. She was taken advantage of, controlled, manipulated, and imprisoned in different ways.
Thoughts while reading-
Page 96- action scenes fall flat
Page 130- I wish the author used less filtering words, it distances me from the emotions and makes the writing feel more choppy
Page 156- in a small way, Hades reminds me of Christian Gray.
Page 192- halfway through. I love that Hades may have a soft side. His protective nature of women is sexy, but the possessiveness is borderline. I wasn’t sure if she was drugged or not and if Hades knew, so the limo part was a bit controversial. Sometimes The abrupt transition between yelling at each other and kissing feels too unnatural.
Page 263- a “test?” I don’t like that comment.
Page 309- I’d classify the steam as 3.5/5 spice. Scarlett’s “King of Battle and Blood” was probably a 5/5 spice.
Page 314- her mother doesn’t feel like a valid threat anymore because she should’ve already done something by now
Page 332- I don’t like when full weeks pass within a sentence
Page 360- if this is the big climatic moment it fell a little flat.
A Game of Fate’ follows the same storyline as ‘A Touch of Darkness’ and so most of the scenes between Hades and Persephone are the same, although through Hades perspective we have different details and some of the questions that remained unanswered from the first book have been answered.
Ending- Page 378- I’d be 75% interested enough to read the sequel but I’m unsure if my library carries it. I’m not desperate enough to go purchase my own copy if the library doesn’t have it to borrow. Yet, if someone had given this series to me as a gift, I’d binge all of the ones currently published within a few days.