Last updated on March 25, 2021
Disclaimer: I’ve stated in the past that I don’t feel comfortable promoting books I haven’t read. I signed up for a review tour stop for this book, but received notice on May 2nd that the book would not be available in time for the tour. Rather than abandon my spot on the tour, I decided to post this excerpt as requested by the author via Xpresso Book Tours. Please consider this post as informative as opposed to promotional. I have not read the book as of posting this.
A Touch of Darkness
by Scarlett St. Clair
Genres: Adult, Mythology, Romance
Series: Hades & Persephone, Book 1
Release Date: Spring 2019
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the 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—and it’s forbidden.
“Are you hurt?” he asked.
“No,” she said, and he nodded, carefully pulling his arm free of her grasp. He crossed the room, Persephone assumed to put distance between them.
Then she remembered she was in her true form, and started to raise her glamour.
“Oh, it’s a little too late to be modest, don’t you think?” Hades said, piercing her with those beautiful dark eyes. He tugged his tie free and she watched it slip from his neck.
She lifted her eyes to his. He wasn’t smirking like she expected. He looked…primal. Like a starved animal who had finally cornered his prey. She swallowed and hurriedly said, “Did I interrupt something?”
She wasn’t sure she wanted an answer.
The corner of his mouth lifted. “I was just about to go to bed when I heard you demanding entrance to my club.”
Bed? It was well past noon.
“Imagine my surprise when I find the goddess from last night on my doorstep.”
“Did the gorgon tell you?”
She stepped further into the room, angry. Hades was amused.
“No. Euryale did not. I recognized your magic as Demeter’s, but you are not Demeter.” Then he tilted his head like he had earlier. “When you left, I consulted a few texts. I had forgotten Demeter had a daughter. I assumed you were Persephone. Question is, why aren’t you using your own magic?”
“Is that why you did this?” she demanded, removing the bracelet she’d used to cover the mark on her skin, and holding up her arm.
Persephone wanted to attack him. She clenched her hands at her sides to keep from vaulting across the room.
“No,” he said. “That is the result of losing against me.”
“You were teaching me to play,” she argued.
“Semantics,” he said with a shrug. “The rules of Nevernight are very clear, Goddess.”
“They are anything but clear, and you are an asshole!”
Hades eyes darkened. Apparently, he didn’t like being called names any more than the ogre did. He pushed away from the desk striding toward her. Persephone took a step back.
“Don’t call me names, Persephone,” he said, and then reached for her wrist. He traced the bracelet all around, making her shiver. “When you invited me to your table, you entered into an agreement. If you had won, you could have left Nevernight with no demands on your time. But you didn’t and now, we have a contract.”
She swallowed, considering every horrible, impossible pact he’d made. What darkness would he pull from deep inside her?
“And what does that mean?” Her voice was still biting.
“It means we must choose terms,” he said.
“I don’t want to be in a contract with you,” she said between her teeth. Take it off!”
“You put it there, you can remove it.”
His lips twitched.
“You think this is funny?”
“Oh, darling, you have no idea.”
The word darling slid across her skin and she shivered again. He seemed to notice because he smiled a little bit more.
“I am a goddess,” she tried again. “We are equals.”
“You think our blood changes the fact that you willingly entered into a contract with me? These things are law, Persephone.” She glared at him. “The mark will dissolve when the contract has been fulfilled.” He said it like that should make it all better.
“And what are your terms?” Just because she was asking didn’t mean she was going to agree.
Hades jaw was tight. He seemed to be restraining himself. Maybe he wasn’t used to being ordered around. When he lifted his head and stared down at her, she knew she was in trouble.
“Create life in the Underworld,” he said at last.
“What?” She hadn’t been prepared for that, though she probably should have been. Wasn’t her greatest weakness her lack of power? An irony considering her Divinity.
“Create life in the Underworld,” he said again. “You have six months—and if you fail or refuse, then you will become a permanent resident of the Underworld.”
“You want me to grow a garden in your realm?” she asked, shocked. She considered her options at this point, and could only think of one reply—a threat.
He shrugged. “I suppose that is one way to create life.”
She glared at him. “If you steal me away to the Underworld, you will face my mother’s wrath.”
“Oh, I am sure,” he mused. “Much like you will feel her wrath when she discovers what you’ve so recklessly done.”
Persephone’s cheeks flushed. He was right. The difference between them was that Hades didn’t seemed at all fazed by the threat. Why should he be? He was one of the three—the most powerful Gods in existence. A threat from Demeter was a pebble thrown.
About the Author
Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master’s degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.
Author links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter