Fortitude Smashed, by Taylor Brooke
Series: The Camellia Clock Cycle, Book 1
Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: September 21, 2017
After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate.
Fate is now a calculation.
But loving someone isn’t.
When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.
Trigger warnings (as provided by the author): discussion of mental health, portrayal of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
The book was cozy (for lack of a better word) because I felt like I really knew the characters. This book is character driven more so than plot driven. Brooke did a really good job developing both of the MCs as well as the various secondary characters in a way where they could carry the whole story. That’s a really tough thing to do because you really need to give a lot of depth to a few characters without making it a snoozefest.
The book starts with two seemingly opposite men finding out that they are soulmates. One was a cop who looked a little too perfect from the outside and the other was a criminal with a smart mouth who seemed to be nothing but trouble. I ended up really liking Aiden and Shannon, more than I thought I was going to, and that has everything to do with Brooke’s writing. She could have kept it lazy and have the MCs do the whole opposites attract thing but instead she showed us their layers.
Yeah, Aiden was a troublemaker but he has these massive insecurities and a massively squishy interior. I like that his character developed without him getting turned into a Stepford wife. Yeah, he grew but he wasn’t all sweet and well behaved just to please his rose road (soulmate). At the end of the book he softened up but he was for all intents and purposes still a giant pain in the butt.
Shannon could have turned out a bit boring. A bit too “yes dear” and a hard cop to be really likable, but instead he learned to accept Aiden as his soulmate (his rose road). He didn’t keep throwing Aiden’s past mistakes in his face. Instead, he brings Aiden into his life and tries to get to know him better. He has multiple opportunities to live up to the whole hard cop thing and turn Aiden in but he doesn’t. He never pushes Aiden outside of his boundaries, even though Aiden’s boundaries are surprising, so it could have been easy to do. It’s really hard to describe Shannon’s character but he’s a genuinely good and likable guy without being too boring. Brooke makes the reader really understand why these characters are soulmates.
Brooke also did similar (though less in depth) character building with the secondary characters in this book. Three out of the four side characters were well-written women with really different personalities. One of them was an ex-girlfriend and I was really clenching my teeth hoping she wasn’t going to keep being that jilted ex competing with the current boyfriend. A lot of authors use women as competition for the male love interest in the book and while Brooke kind of played around with it she ended up deconstructing that trope in an interesting way. I enjoyed meeting the side characters and seeing how they fit in the story. I think some of them are going to be in the next book because it was mentioned that their clocks were going to stop (the clock stops when you find your soulmate).
The biggest problem that I had with the book was that it was supposed to be centered around the clocks and finding your rose road but there wasn’t very much world building that was done with that. I think this is why some parts of the book ended up feeling slow and a bit dull. I think, if you are more into in-depth world-building sci-fi type stuff, this is probably going to put you off. If you just want soulmates in a book then it’s not a dealbreaker. I think, either way, if you go into this with an open mind, you’ll really enjoy it because it is an interesting take on soulmates. It was worth the time it took to read it and I’m excited for the next book in the series.
Taylor Brooke is a traveling story-teller, believer in magic, and a science fiction junkie.
Probably a tea snob. Definitely a beer snob. Bisexual, but pansexual, but bisexual – one of the two. Can have lengthy, in-depth conversations about an atomic lizard and his radioactive moth friend. Yearns for a life in the city, but dreams of founding an animal sanctuary. Future tiny house owner. Future tiny library owner, because her book collection won’t fit in one tiny house.
Proudly writes inclusive Queer novels for teens and adults.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.