Ewen mhic Friscalach is both leader to his people, yet set apart from them. Despite the fact he is a wyrbear, he cannot shift. His Bear lives within him, uneasy and uncomfortable, and Ewen has learned to accept the fact that he and his second self are not a unified whole. Until, in the midst of battle, Ewen meets Roi and Bear roars to life.
Roi is Bear’s mate and Ewen finds himself captivated by the tough and scrappy Roi. They seem destined for one another and Ewen devotes himself to wooing and protecting Roi. But treachery was laid upon both men without their knowledge and it will take an act of Fate and gods combined to save them from a curse beyond their control.
Wow. Author Lexi Ander has packed a whole lot of story, fantasy, and history into Caledonia Destiny. Sometimes it works perfectly, and other times it feels like an impending train wreck, but admittedly it is always entertaining. Ewen and Roi are both exceptionally well defined and easy to relate to. Despite that this is a case of instant attraction, their romance is relatively slow building, which helps it feel more realistic. The romance is of the epic variety and quite fun. It’s all brooding alpha male versus scrappy, yet mysterious stranger and it works despite the pandemonium happening around the couple. I give Lexi Ander huge props for trying and at least partially succeeding to create something unusual and new with the shifter genre. There are familiar elements, of course, but the idea of the human and their shifter selves being separate beings was clever and added a unique spin to Caledonia Destiny. There’s a lot to love in this book, which actually makes the issues somehow even more maddening than usual.
I applaud the use of rather formalized, and some would say archaic, speech choices to help set the historical setting here. But it was excessive. There are times the language becomes so ornate that it tangles and knots itself up. Some of this could have been scaled back, which would have made the book easier to read without losing the authentic flair. The last third of Caledonia Destiny turns into a mess of new-ish characters, shifters who aren’t shifters, living tattoos, and body swapping. This is such a swerve from the book’s apparent foundation that it reads as a jarring roller coaster of insanity. The story starts off as primarily a romance with some fantastical elements, but evolves into a something almost too big to handle. Now, to the author’s credit, by the end of the book everything has been explained, but as a reader I found the plot to be overly complex and somewhat gnarled, which was frustrating in the extreme.
Caledonia Destiny is a very good book. It’s well thought out and delves into some huge fantasy themes and does so with characters that are deeply engaging. The execution, at least towards the end, leaves a lot to be desired and the story takes, at times, an excessive amount of patience on the part of the reader. That said, Caledonia Destiny is definitely worth your time. It’s the first in a new series and I’m certainly looking forward to where the author takes us. I suspect it will be a wild ride.