Fortitude SmashedRating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Shannon Wurther became the youngest detective in Southern California in record time. He is driven and precise and follows the law. Shannon is also waiting. For in this world, his fate and finding his soul mate is calculated by a chip that is implanted in his thumb. His Camellia Clock counts down the time until he meets his destiny.

But destiny certainly has a sense of humor for when Shannon’s clock times out, he is face to face with Aiden Maar, art thief. Aiden has also been waiting for his soul mate, but seriously, a cop? However, their attraction and their chemistry cannot be denied. They don’t have to love one another, they can walk away if they want to, but fate may say otherwise.

When I saw this was a story about fated mates in a contemporary setting and the characters were not shifters, I was sold. It started out so promising and there were definitely things I liked about this story, but, there were also what I saw as glaring omissions from the plot and a definitive lack of world building.

The characters were easy to engage with. Shannon is driven to be successful because his father was and he feels like he has a lot to prove. He’s perfect on paper, including having a perfect driving record, which Aiden finds hysterical. Aiden has a rougher edge to him. He steals for the thrill and because he can. He has family issues and guilt that slowly come to light over the course of the book, as well as depression and mental health issues. He is Shannon’s opposite in almost every way, from his leather jacket and motorcycle, to his personality, to how he sees the world. However, one thing remains the same: they both cannot wait to find their soulmate.

The style of writing in the book is poetic, highly descriptive, and even lyrical at times. Being that this is an Interlude Press book, I have come to expect that from this publisher and it is one of the reasons I reach for their books time and again. The initial chemistry between the men is tangible, but when their clocks time out and they meet their fate, they don’t want to want each other.

Shannon’s resistance crumbled. He reached for Aiden as he would reach for a shot of whiskey or a too-sharp knife or a venomous snake, but reached all the same.

Shannon sees Aiden as unruly and volatile and Shannon has to look past that, while Aiden sees Shannon as too perfect and Aiden definitely feels not good enough. Their chemistry drives the story. The early part of the book is a sensual world of lips and skin and touches as they fall into each other at every meeting.

Their lips clashed. They kissed as though they were waging wars and winning them.

And Shannon comes to terms with finding everything he always wanted, but just not in the package he expected.

Deep down where no one could see it, Shannon had wished for magic. And he thought he might be looking at it now.

Where the book went wrong for me was the fated mates aspect. Each person has what is called a Camellia Clock embedded in their thumb that counts down the time until they meet their soul mate. The soul mate is then called the person’s Rose Road. This is what the book is based on, yet it is never described in the book how this came to be. I went back to the blurb and found this: 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.

This is the only place the entire basis of the book is talked about and that was a huge issue for me. I certainly needed more on how this came about. The book appears to be present day and the characters discuss this as if we are all supposed to know exactly what is going on. The term Rose Road is used about 50 times during the course of the book, and while the definition is given, it just became an overused phrase with nothing to back it up.

At many points, not much was happening. The storyline is about Shannon and Aiden finding common ground to have relationship and there are times this absolutely works, but the pace here was off for me. The lyrical descriptions I enjoyed in the beginning began to detract from the story as it wasn’t believable that both of these men spoke and thought like this all of the time. Not to mention the extreme amount of blushing they both did.

Their attraction is what the story is built on and in the beginning the descriptive style was more romantic and I was riding along with it. As the story went on however, the fade out feeling began to detract from the true intimacy that was being described and seeing more of it would have enhanced their time together and their bond.

The later part of the book moves to Aiden’s issues and a scene of violence through a secondary character and that all of a sudden takes over and the pace really faltered for me at the end. There were some good moments here, but the extreme lack of world building for the fated mates aspect was a complete detractor for me.

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