So I wanted to read Promises and Pomegranates by Sav R Miller, because I love all things Hades and Persephone. I’m super behind on Lore Olympus right now (And if you haven’t checked that out on WebToon then you should. Rachel Smythe is amazing you guys. It’s also available on Amazon in paperback and hardback.) Anyway, so I wanted to read that. I’d seen it on BookTok, and pretty much everywhere in the reading groups I’m part of on the book of faces. However, because I’m sometimes every bit the blonde I was born, despite my current hair color, I downloaded Vipers and Virtuosos before I downloaded the right one. In my defense, I was looking at like seven different books at the time. I still haven’t read Promises and Pomegranates yet, but it is on my list.
Vipers and Virtuosos is a modern retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. I’ll be completely honest, as much as I love mythology from every culture, this was not a story I remembered a lot of. I honestly remembered only one or two facts, but they didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I knew Orpheus went to get Eurydice from the Underworld and he failed because he looked back, but that was it. I couldn’t remember why he went or why he wasn’t supposed to look back. So, I looked up the myth, this morning, after finishing the book, and before writing this. So, to sum it up quickly, I’ll tell you the myth so you don’t have to look.
Essentially, Orpheus is believed to be the son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He’s extremely gifted with music, mastering the Lyre at a very young age. One day he’s playing near a river and a crowd gathers to hear him. Among the crowd is a wood nymph named Eurydice. The two fall in love, and hardly spend a day apart. Eventually they decide to get married. Hymenaios, the god of marriage, presides over the vows and everyone celebrates until it starts getting dark. As the couple leaves the feast, they are set upon by Aristaeus, a Shepard who had wanted to claim Eurydice for his own. His plan was to kill Orpheus and then take the girl (which in my opinion is just piss poor planning on his part). Anyway, Orpheus and Eurydice run away from him, though eventually she trips and when Orpheus looks back he notices two things. The first, that Aristaeus is no long following them and second, that Eurydice looks almost gray. She’d accidentally stepped into a vipers nest as they ran and was bitten. Aristaeus saw it happen and gave up, cursing his luck and Orpheus.
Orpheus is so distraught when his wife dies that he decides he’s going to go to the Underworld and plead his case to get Hades to give her back. So, armed with his Lyre and his voice (and his father convincing Hades to at least hear him out), he heads into the Underworld to find Hades and Persephone. After explaining the situation to them, Hades openly weeps, Persephone’s heart melts, even Cerberus isn’t unaffected. Hades agrees that he can have Eurydice back. All Orpheus has to do is to leave the Underworld and she will follow him. Hades warns him not to look back until she reaches the light, or all will be lost. Orpheus, despite hearing his wife’s footsteps behind him and his overwhelming desire to see her, manages to make it to the light. However, when he looks back to hug his wife, she is still in the shadow and is pulled back to the Underworld.
When Orpheus tries to go and speak with Hades a second time, his path is blocked by Hermes, who was sent by Zeus to deny him entry. Orpheus wanders around singing terribly sad songs after that and basically not talking to anyone. He refuses the advances of other women, and only finds peace while he rests on a rock. One day, he’s resting on a rock when he’s set upon by a group of scorned women who are upset with him for not accepting their advances. They chop him into little pieces and toss him and his lyre into the river. His head and his lyre make it to Lesvos where he is given a proper burial by the Muses who reside there. His spirit however, is reunited with Eurydice in the Underworld.
Not exactly the happy ending he had in mind I think. So, armed with that knowledge, let’s get into Vipers and Virtuosos shall we? Look, be warned of spoilers and such going forward, like always, but this time there are Trigger Warnings for this book as well. As much as I loved it, there are people out there who will most likely have some triggering moments and I would hate for that to happen because I recommended a book without telling you. So, best I can figure, these are the Trigger Warnings you need to watch out for: Kidnapping, Stalking, Brutal attacks, Sexual Assault (though only accused and in vague details, everything that happens on screen (so to speak) is consensual).
Aiden James is hailed as the “Modern Day Orpheus”. The son of a washed up pop star and a record executive, he started playing guitar at a young age and is quite popular. At a gala event, he bids on Riley Kelley, though he doesn’t know her name.
Riley Kelley was brutally attacked, and she doesn’t remember much about it, but the scars that she still bears because of it. Her mother died that night, and her older brother Boyd is the one who takes her in. Two years after the attack, she goes to New York with her school and ends up attending a live auction gala with her roommates. She didn’t want to go, but somehow manages to catch the attention of Aiden, who buys her for the rest of the night.
Instead of the night he’d planned, Aiden and Riley spend time together hanging out. He’s quickly growing attached to her, and she to him. They end up at a tattoo parlor, and though Riley won’t tell him her real name, they both end up with tattoos that represent the nickname he’s given her. Riley’s gets the word “Angel” on her thigh near her scar, and he gets a halo on his thumb. Though Aiden is covered in tattoos, this is Riley’s first. After the tattoos are finished, Aiden and Riley end up dipping their toes into a sexual relationship, though they do not go too far and Riley runs away afterward. She’s freaked out because of past trauma that she can’t remember.
Aiden is hopeful he can find her the next day, and Riley takes off back home to Maine. Both find out that day that Aiden has been accused of sexually assaulting Riley, though it wasn’t Riley that made the accusation. Riley wants to come forward to clear Aiden’s name, but her brother warns her that should she do that, she could draw the attention of the people that attacked her two years prior. She’s bound to her silence, even though it will ruin Aiden’s life. Eventually, she fakes her death and runs away.
Three years later, Aiden catches up to her in the small town in Colorado where she’s been hiding out from her past. He intends to make her pay for ruining his life, and part of her knows she deserves it, though she didn’t make the initial accusation, and no one can figure out who did. Though his intent is to stalk her and ruin her, Aiden doesn’t count on falling in love with her, or she for him and that changes everything.
Book Club for Complicated House Plants
Is this genre (Dark Romance) something you read a lot?
Not often, but I don’t mind it. I actually enjoy it from time to time and this book is a wonderful example of the genre.
What did you think about the modern retelling of the myth?
Not knowing much about the myth while I read, kept me wondering what was going to happen in the story. I was curious how everything would pan out. After reading the myth, I’m glad that both have a happy ending, even if they end a different way from one another. I love it. I think that Aiden definitely embodied Orpheus and his and Riley’s feelings for one another definitely resemble the all consuming obsessive love that Orpheus and Eurydice shared.
What was your favorite part of the book?
I love the initial meeting of Aiden and Riley. It’s the perfect meet-cute and sets up the rest of the story wonderfully. I love that they both seem to come alive in one another’s presence. They both have their demons but somehow those burdens seem lighter when they’re together. As a fangirl, it’s every fan fiction my teenage self ever wrote. The idea that you could meet your celebrity crush and have an amazing time with them. Ugh, swoon worthy. Which makes everything afterward so much more tragic.
Did you race to the end or was it more of a slowburn?
I raced to the end. I finished this book in three days. I loved it. I kept checking the page count to see how much room was left to solve the riddles and problems that kept creeping up. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next and see how the relationship between Aiden and Riley would progress. There were other relationships I wanted to see develop as well, but that was the main draw.
How does the books title work in relation to the books contents?
I love the combination of the original myth (vipers) and the story now. It worked so well. It was catchy, and maybe that’s why I chose it by mistake, the title was intriguing. What did the two have in common? Titling a book is hard, it worked through probably four or five different working titles before settling on the title of my first book, so I get it. I loved it. And it works so well with the other titles in the series.
How did the story impact you? Do you think you’ll remember it in a few months or years?
I think I will. I love mythology, though I’m more familiar with Celtic and Norse mythology these days, I did start with Greek and Roman myths. I also love retellings, of anything. A couple of weeks ago I did a review of Thorns and Roses, which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (one of my favorites) and it was great. On my TBR list, is a retelling of Peter Pan. So yeah, I love them. I think that I will remember this one. For quite awhile. I plan to buy this entire series in paperback because the covers are so beautiful and I think one of my eldest daughters (who is almost 18) would love this series. Just maybe not for a couple more years. This is one that I will be recommending to people.
What are your thoughts on the books structure? Did it serve the story well or did it hinder it?
The structure worked perfectly. You start during the attack on Riley, so while she doesn’t remember it, the reader has an idea at least of what happened and why she’s so skittish of everything. The back and forth chapters from Riley and Aiden’s perspective also help a lot. You get to see into his head, and hers, throughout everything and watch as their emotions and feelings change and how they mentally overcome their demons, or embrace them, as the situations occur. I think that if it was set up differently, something would be lost.
Did you like the “Heat” level of this book?
This is a dark romance, but the heat level, my god. It was burning and I loved it. As someone who enjoys erotica from time to time, it bordered that line very closely at certain parts, but the detail was perfect for the scenes. It worked so well, and was so steamy, that sometimes I put it down if I was in public. I read the most eroticly explicit fan fiction in public without batting an eye, but there were a few times that I switched to playing a game on my phone instead while I was reading this, but I couldn’t wait to pick it back up.
Did this book compel you to read the others in the series?
Most certainly. There are currently four books and while they are all standalone, I loved it. I want more of this. And apparently there are three other books that aren’t part of the Monsters and Muses series and I can’t wait to read those as well. That’s six books added to the TBR pile that’s constantly growing. I’m pretty sure I caught glimpses of the “Hades” character in this book and now I want to go read that to see if I’m right.
Is the couple’s connection believable? At what point did they click for you?
I think it is. Now if this situation happened in real life and not fiction, there would be so many red flags, however in a fictional situation, it was amazing. I also love that therapy is mentioned more than once and is something that Riley gets. It helps that mental health is portrayed in a good light as much as her and Aiden accept their demons. I love that trend that I’m starting to see in modern fiction, as someone who sees a therapist regularly, I’m happy to see that. So yes, in a fictional world, they click immediately and their relationship works. Now, again, Riley isn’t guilty of what Aiden thinks she is, so as that realization sets in, his original plans are abandoned, though she’s content to let him ruin her in ways she can’t even fathom. And maybe in the end he does, just not the way he intended.
I gave this book 5 stars. I cannot find anything wrong with it at all. The story was interesting and kept my attention well. It was a quick read, or at least I devoured it because it was well written. The structure works, and the author doesn’t sugar coat the bad traits these characters have. They aptly see themselves as monsters and know that these desires aren’t normal. I love that. It added just enough realism to make this story believable. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Dark Romance and Retellings of Myths. I now want to read everything from this author.
This book gets the highest heat level available to me. As I previously stated, the heat level in this book is off the charts. So hot, and so well written. Again, the believability of these characters and their situations is amazing. I love how well this was done. The intimate scenes didn’t detract from the story in any way, in fact I feel like they enhanced them. They added something more to the dynamic as things progressed between them. It was easy to believe that if the characters could just get beyond the past hurts they both carried that they’d make a very happy couple.
Okay this has been quite a long review, I’m not sorry for that. I highly recommend it! You guys, if the trigger warnings are something you can handle, and you like Dark Romance, and a little bit of enemies to lovers, my god, do yourself a favor and read this. At the time of writing this, it’s available on Kindle Unlimited, which is where I read it, and also in other formats. I will be ordering it and the others in the series to sit on my shelf and be beautiful and so I can hand it out to people that need to read it. Okay, I’m out of here, enjoy your Thursday. As always, be safe, drink your water, don’t eat yellow snow, and have lots of adventures!