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The Curse of Beauty

The Curse of Beauty

A Gritty No Spice Historical Fantasy Romance steeped in Greek Mythology

Before the Muses spoke of Medusa, a woman inspired the myth.

Winner of the gold medal for the 2022 Readers' Favorite Awards in Fiction-Mythology and shortlisted for the 2022 HFC's Book of the Year, The Curse of Beauty is "a masterful work" set in "a world reeling with magical realism."

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Main Tropes and Themes

  • Scars & Redemption
  • Forbidden Enemies-to-Lovers (Closed-door)
  • Tragic Hero & Tragic Rose
  • Escape Battle
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Power of Courage & Kindness

What is this story about?

In a time of political turmoil and shifting power in Ancient Greece, Thais, daughter of the Tiryns chieftain, navigates a treacherous landscape filled with danger, betrayal, unexpected love, and shallow alliances.

When King Oceanus arrives with his army, intent on seizing control of Tiryns, Thais finds herself torn between her father's desire for peace and the council's thirst for war.

But even as the city faces a threat from without, the greatest danger may lie within, as long-held secrets and hidden agendas threaten to tear Tiryns apart.

Desperate to end the conflict, Thais strikes a deal with the enemy, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the course of history and test the limits of her strength, both in love and courage.

Who is this story for?

Perfect for fans of epic sagas, slow-burn closed-door romance, and mythic retellings, this standalone installment of the Ancient Legends series offers a compelling and imaginative take on the historical roots of Greek mythology's most enduring myths set in Mycenaean history.

With its richly detailed world-building and complex characters, The Curse of Beauty is a must-read for anyone who loves tales of love, loss, and redemption.

Don't miss out on what readers are calling "incredible," "unstoppable," and "exceptional."

Grab this gripping historical fantasy drama today, and go back to a time when men became legends and kings became gods.

Content Disclaimers

BookCave Content Rating:

Moderate with Community Content Elements / Themes, including:

  • Disability (a character with),
  • child death due to abuse or endangerment,
  • romance (in non-romance genres),
  • non-explicit sexual assault, and
  • spousal and/or parental abuse
Author Rating:

The author rated this book for ages 14+ for violence, closed-door romance, and adult themes. 

Chapter 1 Preview

The Curse of Strangers

Tiryns, Peloponnese, 1650 BC

They came from the sea. 

The ships’ white sails emerged from the dense fog, barely noticeable at first, but one by one, the few men on the gulf’s shore pointed and murmured at the sight. 

Gorgon saw one, two, three ships. These could only be traders. 

Their dark wooden bows cut through the shimmering waters. 

Four, five, eight, ten . . . these are not traders.

Gorgon wrapped an arm around his pregnant wife as they watched more ships appear and head for their shoreline. 

“We are out of time,” he muttered and pointed to a young boy nearby. “Doron! Run, alert our Chieftain.”

Doron dropped his basket of gathered fish and took off toward their village. His small, bare feet crashed against the rocky ground while his legs upset the gentle sway of long grasses. His wake lifted the faint smell of spring into the air, and its fresh scent mixed with the thick salt in the breeze.

“Gorgon,” Agnas whispered as she placed a hand upon his chest. “Why have they come?”

A slow, steady breath blew out of his lips. The last time people from the sea came with many ships, peace had not followed, or so said the stories that had been passed down through the ages. But in his lifetime, there had been rumors of the sea lords who came and subjected the peoples of the shore to create a united land. His stomach shifted as he recounted those rumors. 

Subjected. 

It had been said with a callous undertone, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Had it been peaceful subjection, or had it been under threat? Either way, they will not hurt my family. I will not stand for our Chieftain’s decision to stay. 

“Go home to our children, Agnas. If I do not return by nightfall, leave and find the Wanderers in the trees and pray to Atana they take you in.” 

Her fingers gripped his long tunic so that its fabric pulled tight against the two pins that held it closed upon his shoulder and around his waist. She rose to her tiptoes to speak in his ear. “Do not stay and fight,” she pleaded. 

He pressed his lips into a thin line before he forced the corners of his mouth upward. His gaze locked with hers as his hand instinctively drew to her large belly. “I will be home by nightfall.”

Tears pricked her eyes as she brushed her lips against his. “You are a man of your word.” Her fingers let their prisoner go, releasing his tunic. The thin fabric once again fell into its usual draping. 

“Keep our children safe,” he said with a quick brush of the back of his hand against her cheek.

Her teeth clamped as tight as the polished stones and shells in her necklace were tied in a row. The karanasi rested on her perfect collarbone in an altar of memory to her ancestors. 

“By nightfall, Gorgon,” she said.

As a good wife and woman and mother would, she left him there to meet the strangers, as was his role in the Council. They locked eyes once more before she turned to leave. 

The many nights of his whispering to her under the moon rushed over him. It was not her place, but he had told her every detail discussed in the Council. Every argument. Every debate. Every disagreement. He had been outnumbered in his stance on the rumors of subjection, and yet as the strangers drew near, he would find out if he was right or wrong. Not that it mattered then. If he were right, he would be dead or enslaved. 

Gorgon watched Agnas’ statuesque frame walk away until she disappeared behind the tall grass of the hill. It might be the last time I ever see her. An ache grew fangs and chewed on his heart deep within his chest. 

Turning his attention to the few men remaining on the shoreline, he braced for death. If the rumors were true, these strangers carried weapons of length. The short bronze hunting knife tied to his waist caused a lump to grow in his throat, knowing it would be no match for a long blade.

“Lady Atana,”—his gaze lifted to the sun in the western sky—“Our Mother Goddess, protect our people. Let me be home by nightfall. Let me be wrong.” Lady Atana’s temple was in their village, but he took his chances praying to her there on the shore.

The long narrow boats beached the sandy gravel shoreline in rapid succession.

I am the most senior Council member here, Gorgon thought as he looked over the village men at the shore. I must be the one to meet them. 

His shoulders rolled back, and his chin lifted. “If they strike me down, I shall be struck down a man, not cowering in fear.” He forced his feet to approach them. 

A man jumped out of the first ship to touch the shoreline. A long bronze sword, rounded at the end—but no less still capable of beheading him—swung by his thigh. A helmet made of boar tusks was upon his head and tied around his shoulders and chest were plates of bronze. 

These are warriors, not men of peace. His fingers itched to grab his dagger, but it would do no good to provoke the man who would most surely win the scuffle with that long sword and its reach. His eyes drifted to the fifty men behind him in his boat and the many more boats holding the same. 

Run, Agnas.

“Greetings,” Gorgon called out and lifted his hand to show he meant peace—even though he wore only a simple tunic, it should have been reason enough to reveal his peaceful intentions.

The man sneered and spit into the sandy gravel. His head cocked as he ran his eyes up and down Gorgon—his eyes settling on Gorgon’s dagger. He surveyed the few men remaining on the shore who had gathered to stand behind Gorgon. Four men jumped out of the boat and landed behind him in a row.

Gorgon locked eyes with each man and lowered his hand to his side—his dagger just within reach. “Greetings,” he said again.

The stranger snorted and then smiled. “Greetings,” he returned. 

It seemed they spoke the same words, for Gorgon understood what he said, but the light nose-breathed words of his language contrasted with the heavy, throat-born words of that man’s language. 

“We are the people of Tiryns. Who are you?” Gorgon took a wide stance; his arms hung loosely by his sides. The rise of his shoulders made him cognizant of his rapid heartbeat. He pressed his shoulders down and assuaged the beat with a deep, silent breath through his nostrils.

“The people of where?” The man said, walking closer. The four warriors behind him stayed where they were. Gorgon could see the men of the ships watching their apparent leader.

“Tiryns,” Gorgon repeated. 

The leader looked over each of Gorgon’s shoulders, one at a time. “And where is this . . . Tiryns?”

Gorgon narrowed his eyes and judged the distance between them without taking his gaze from the man’s face. The dagger would not touch the belly of that man, but that long sword would be able to strike his head. Stepping back, though, shows weakness. But what if we are weak in comparison to them? We are no match for these men who have long swords and wear helmets and bronze plates of armor.

“Do you understand me, simpleton?”

“I am no simpleton,” Gorgon spat through a tight jaw.

“Where is this Tiryns? Answer me.”

“Who are you to be answered and to speak in such a demanding speech?” Gorgon knew these men could slaughter them all, and he had to give Agnas enough time to be on her way before the masses came. The boy he had sent back to the village was probably now in the Chieftain’s house, telling him to come to the shore. His wife would still be on the winding road, unable to run fully. Why could they not have come six months ago, or even three months, when she was not yet full in the stomach? She could have run then.

“And who are you to ask such a question? Are you the King of this land? Of this Tiryns?”

Gorgon narrowed his eyes. “We have no King. We have a Chieftain and a Council. I am one of the senior members of the Council of Tiryns.”

“Ah.” The leader pursed his lips and nodded. “Another Council.” He peered back over his shoulder at the four men and said, “Akareu, another Council. We should be home soon.” 

The man named Akareu nodded and then shouted to the men on the boat, “Another Council.” 

A ripple of laughter and chuckles came from the boats as a hot hue rose on Gorgon’s cheeks. 

The leader crossed his arms and matched Gorgon’s stance. He seemed to dare Gorgon to strike while knowing full well Gorgon would still fail, even with an advantage of proximity to his dagger. 

“Who are you?” Gorgon crossed his arms to show he was not afraid of death. He was not going to take his dare.

“Bold, I see. Yet not stupid—” The leader dropped his arms and placed his hand on the handle of his blade.

Gorgon did not flinch at the act of aggression, but his wife’s and his daughters’ faces passed before him. Their golden-brown hair and honey-like eyes etched in his vision. 

“—and not afraid of death.” The leader sniffed and narrowed his stance, clearly not afraid of Gorgon attacking him. 

Gorgon considered the change in stance: Maybe he respects me for not taking his dare. 

However, his hand remained on the handle of his blade as he spoke his title: “I am King Oceanus because I have conquered the seas, and now I am uniting the lands. The god of gods Posedawone—” 

Gorgon stood with an unimpressed stare as he interrupted this man who spoke of this god of gods. Who is this god of gods? The Mother Goddess is the greatest. “And will you conquer us as well?”

The question seemed to startle the king, and his lips curled in disgust. His chin dipped, and he whispered, “I should strike you down for speaking while I honor the great Posedawone, our great ‘earth-shaker,’ but I will not.” His voice returned to its booming state. “I am a patient King, but Posedawone will not allow my patience to make me be seen as weak. If you resist me, I will kill you all at his command.”

Gorgon gritted his teeth. I was right. We should have moved north, but now it is too late. His gaze shifted to the men behind Oceanus. More men jumped from the boat, each landing upon thick, sturdy legs, and plopped into the sandy shore with a thundering thunk. The clang from the armor attacked the air. Their stench pushed forward, cutting off the sweet scent of spring. Archers remained in the boat, their arrows nocked, and their fingers ready to draw. 

Oceanus snorted a smirk, commanding Gorgon’s gaze to snap back to the warrior leader and speak in the silence following Oceanus’ threat.

“I do not know of this god Posedawone, but it appears he has given you a blessing . . . of sorts.” Gorgon bent down to pick up his basket of fish. “I shall take you to our Chieftain.” Gorgon dipped his chin in respect of this lord of the seas. The Chieftain, I suppose, is not coming anyway. Doron would have brought him back by now.

“Good. Perhaps I may have a place for you in my court, you of mindful inspection,” Oceanus said and pushed past Gorgon knocking into his shoulder. “And by the time I am through with the town of Tiryns, you will know of Posedawone.”

Gorgon could have easily slipped his hunter’s dagger between the bronze plates of Oceanus’ back as he walked past, but Gorgon’s hand stayed clenched by his side. The archers would be quicker than my strike. 

He turned his back on the shore to lead Oceanus and the strangers to his village of Tiryns. 

I will take the longest route, and I hope Agnas will leave by the time we get there. He eyed the sun in the west. Drop quickly; Lady Atana, drop your sun quickly.

Product Information

eBook file size: 1.5 MB

Paperback Size: 5" x 8"

  • 492 pages
  • Includes: Exclusive Cover
  • Printed on-demand by Lulu Direct

Hardcover Size: 6" x 9"

  • 506 pages

Book Details

  • Publisher: LLMBooks Publishing
  • Published: February 2022
  • ISBN-13:  978-1-7379050-2-8
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
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  • Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Winner

    Winner of the gold medal for the 2022 Readers' Favorite Awards in the Fiction-Mythology category, The Curse of Beauty is a masterful work of historical fiction that will leave you spellbound.

  • (★★★★★)

    "When Merewether's up-close and empathetic narrative style is combined with the many sensations, family conflicts, and political struggles of this exciting plotline, it makes for an unstoppable read... The Curse of Beauty delivers everything you could possibly hope for in a historical drama. Unmissable." - K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★★)

    "The Curse of Beauty is an incredible book of mythology and drama...a powerful book overflowing with drama, intrigue, love, hate, passion, and violence...The plot was very well written and developed. It had perfect flow and continuity. The characters were expertly crafted...an exceptional story..." - Teresa Syms for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★★)

    "Merewether breathes actual real life into her wonderfully well-developed characters and gives us a gripping plot and its eventual outcome with each turn of the page...a creative storyline that stays with you long after the book ends." - Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★★)

    "Fans of Greek mythology will adore The Curse of Beauty, a tale that is infused with magical realism and set against the backdrop of a world that is reeling with conflict...The story moves at a fast pace, and the teeth-gnashing suspense built around what happens next to the strong female heroine will keep readers turning the pages. The Curse of Beauty is a stirring and memorable tale of survival that is filled with audaciously creative imagination readers seek." - Matthew Novak for The Book Commentary 

  • 4 out of 4 Stars!

    "Although I have read several excellent books recently, this one has ranked among the best and has lingered in my thoughts since finishing it. There is nothing that I didn't relish. Therefore, I am thrilled to award it four out of four stars. This amazing novel is enthusiastically recommended to readers who appreciate historical fiction and drama, especially if they enjoy reading about ancient Greece and Greek mythology. Romance lovers would also appreciate it."  - Prisallen for OnlineBookClub.org

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