Why this book?: Because everyone’s gotta love that old Soulmate AU. Also, it’s M/M, and is #OwnVoices for mental illness.
I would like the thank Taylor Brooke and the People at Interlude Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve recently been trying to make my reviews more impartial, looking at the good and the bad. That’s going to be difficult for this one.
Fortitude Smashed is an important book, for the mentally ill, for the queer, and for those looking for love.
The mental illness rep was some of the best I’ve ever read. As someone who has lived with multiple mental illnesses over the years, reading this book made me feel accepted. What I found the most important was how Taylor didn’t brush over or shield anything about Aiden’s dysthymia. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that’s what I really appreciated. Because depression isn’t pretty. And Taylor didn’t shy away from that, and I finally felt like I saw my depression in a novel. While Fortitude Smashed is technically a love story, Aiden’s dysthymia wasn’t reduced to “being cured” while his relationship with Shannon developed. Instead, both people learned ways to live with it. While I personally didn’t connect with the love portions, Fortitude Smashed still went into how friendships affected someone’s mental health. However, I cannot stress enough that this book can be highly triggering.
I also appreciated the queer rep. While it doesn’t say it in text, Shannon is bisexual and Aiden is pansexual. (I only know this because I follow the author on twitter.) While the sexualities aren’t mentioned in text, what you get is still a very healthy and pretty sexy M/M romance. I also adored how no one really seemed . . . surprised or bothered that they were together. I even had a good giggle when it turned out that Shannon’s parents had bet if his Rose Road was a guy or girl, which was kinda adorable. At first thought, I had problems with the soulmate idea, because it could be very excluding of asexual, aromantic, or even polyamorous people. In a chat with Taylor, though, not only are triads and quartets featured, but aro/ace people would still have soulmates: and depending on them personally, that would be how their relationship would work. Taylor put a lot of thought into the Camellia Clock world, and I’m very impressed (and very excited for the rest of the series.)
Now, the characters. Oh boy. Aiden Maar is the. best. He is the snark master. He’s also a thief in love with a cop, and it’s hilarious when they talk about it. Shannon get’s so upset and Aiden just can’t stop. It’s not obvious at first, but when Taylor wrote them as soulmates, she meant it. I was entranced with their relationship, and I just couldn’t get enough of them. Even the minor characters! Marcus, Aiden’s brother, was really relatable (“That was adorable”) and his and Aiden’s relationship was just as interesting as Aiden and Shannon. You could tell that Taylor took her time in developing her characters, and I really couldn’t get enough of them.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
I don’t know what I was expecting this book to be, but it certainly wasn’t this. I was expecting one of those cliche soulmate stories where everyone is happy and rainbows and butterflies. But, hell, Fortitude Smashed is not that. It was an intense read, especially when I realized that this book would spell out my experiences to the dot.
Would I Recommend?
I couldn’t not recommend this book. I . . . it just means a lot to mean, okay? It can be highly triggering, but, for the first time ever, there was an Author’s Note in the beginning that gave chapters with serious triggers. Taylor cares about her readers so much, and honestly? That means a lot to me more than how good the book actually was.
Trigger warning for sexual assault/rape, depression, suicidal ideation, alcohol, violence, dissociative episodes, panic attacks, and mentions of drugs.
Published: September 21st, 2017
Publisher: Interlude Press
Page Count: 312
Genre: Contemporary/New Adult/Romance
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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.