I don’t recall where I first saw this book. Either it popped up on my Amazon when I was looking at what to read next, or I saw it on TikTok at some point. Considering, how many book recommendations come across on there, it’s completely possible. Especially since it’s Hades and Persephone reimagining and romance. It’s a dark romance at that, there are trigger warnings with this book. So, be warned before going into this book if you’re going to pick it up yourself. But I wanted to check it out after reading six out of eight books of The Millennium Wolves on Galatea (I’m not going to review them as it would mostly be a review of the app) for the last week. As I needed something that was a mix between romance and fantasy before going back to the other books I have to read.
To most, Kal Anderson is a villain. Harbinger of death, keeper of souls, frequenter of nightmares. Doctor Death. Hades incarnate. They say he stole me. Usurped my fiancé and filled the cracks in my heart with empty promises. Imprinted his crimson fingerprints on my psyche and tried to set me free. They’re not wrong, per se. Except it was my choice to stay.
To most, Elena Ricci is an innocent. Goddess of springtime, lover of poetry, angel of my nightmares. Little one. Persephone personified. They say I ruined her. Shattered her virtue and devoured her soul like a succulent pomegranate. Embedded my evil as deep as I could possibly get and tried to set her free. They’re not wrong, per se. Except it was she who ruined me.
*Promises and Pomegranates is a full-length, standalone, dark contemporary romance inspired by the framework/characters from the Hades and Persephone myth. If you’re not a reader of the genre, this book may not be suitable for you. Reader discretion is advised.
- Published: August 10, 2021
- Page Count: 382 pages
- Genre: Noir Crime, Gothic Romance, Fairy Tales
Thoughts on Promises and Pomegranates
This book alternates between Elena’s and Kal’s POV.
The book starts out with Kal (a volunteer doctor and hitman) confronting the don of the Ricci mafia in Boston about a sex tape someone took of himself with Ricci’s eldest daughter, Elena. And the two come to an agreement that Kal will marry Elena instead of the individual she’s been engaged to since birth. Then it flashes over to Elena on her wedding day, where she walks into her fiance’s room and discovers he has been murdered by Kal. Only to be immediately married off to Kal with her father and priest overseeing the union. Elena is then taken to an island home of Kal’s called Asphodel. Named after one of the places in the Underworld.
While the book follows many of the tropes and legends of Hades and Persephone, they are more background to the crime noir/romance plot of the book. Kal refers to himself as Hades with Elena being his Persephone. She has a tattoo of pomegranate and often is described as having a similar scent due to her shampoo. But ultimately, they are not Hades or Persephone. Though he could very well be the King of the Underworld. Kal isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and he has darker sexual preferences that Elena didn’t turn down. Not to mention, Elena has a controlling mother who is often jealous of her. And her father gave her away like Zeus gave away Persephone to Hades.
Most of the book focuses on the romance between the two versus the crime noir aspect or any deeper plot. There’s a blackmail scheme written throughout the book. As most of their intimate moments are recorded, then sent to Kal with no information on what the individual wants. Not to mention, he has to deal with the fallout of trying to get out of the mafia, so he can gain a trust fund that’s been left behind for him by his grandfather. But there were a few strings. He couldn’t be in a life of crime anymore, had to be 25 years old, and married. The first one isn’t easy to escape, and the second he’s been for years as he’s 32 compared to Elena’s 18 or 19 (I honestly don’t know how old she is, only that she’s younger than 21 and first slept with Kal at 18 years old, though some time has passed since then). Though it turns out he doesn’t want the trust for himself, but his half-sister, who has stunned him since discovering his existence since he was 13 years old. However, that’s about as far in depth the plot goes on those topics. We don’t see him getting out of the life, it’s something that happens in the background with mentions to things he may have done to ensure that.
We also get moments where Kal suffers from sensory overload anxiety. He can’t stand to be around certain sounds. Often resulting in him losing his grip of control and lashing out. It was an interesting touch and gives it a layer on why he lives a life of seclusion. He can’t stand to be around crowds or where certain sounds are. Even a clock ticking incorrectly is enough to set him off. That’s not the only thing messed up with him. He had a hard life and a lot of neglect/abuse that made him the way he is. Not that it changes who he is, but it’s not a mention that doesn’t come to play more than a few mentions here and there. You can see it in almost every chapter, which I liked to see as it kept the book grounded to some extent.
Overall, I would give Promises and Pomegranates a 3 out of 5-star rating.
While I did not enjoy Diesel’s sections from Den of Vipers by K. A. Knight for its use of blades and torture… I did not mind them between Elena and Kal. Maybe it’s how the blades were used, or I’m getting more messed up the more I read Hades and Persephone retellings. I don’t know, but I didn’t hate those sections. As they were not less graphic by any means to the Den of Vipers. I would say those two books are similar in elements. Both involve the mafia with a kidnapping with the couples (or couples in Den of Vipers case) fall in love. So, if you enjoyed Den of Vipers, you would like Promises and Pomegranates. The same goes if you like Hades and Persephone along with dark romances because this book doesn’t have a lot of light and fluffy moments to it.
The book is standalone, but there are going to be other books in the same universe. From what the next book is titled to the extended epilogue and end of the book, I would believe the next book is going to focus on Riley (an eighteen-year-old that is a sister to head of security with a group Kal uses) and a rockstar she had an affair with. I might read it when it comes out as it might be inspired by Apollo, though I don’t know that completely as there isn’t any information released right now. But I have a feeling like Promises and Pomegranates, the next book will be inspired to some degree by some mythology or fairy tale.
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