Title: Fortitude Smashed (The Camellia Clock Cycle: Book One)
Author: Taylor Brooke
Publisher: Interlude Press
Length: 346 Pages
At a Glance: Fortitude Smashed is a wonderful romance that was well-paced, thoughtful and intense. Unfortunately, the novel was left unfinished when it came to evolving the premise upon which the entire story was based.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: 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.
Review: Taylor Broke is a new author for me, and I must say that her ability to describe emotions and the world surrounding her characters was both beautiful and lyrical. There was definitely an almost poetic air to this novel, which both helped and hurt the final product in the end. Fortitude Smashed was based on fated mates—without any type of paranormal aspect. As far as I could discern from the world in which the characters lived, it was a contemporary one, essentially our current time yet with an interesting twist. Each person had something called a Camellia Clock embedded in their thumbnail which reflected the amount of time they had until they would find the one person meant for them. The day the clock hit zero they would find their soul mate, which is referred to as their “Rose Road”.
For Shannon Wurther, a up and coming police detective who had made his grade well ahead of others through sheer drive and determination, the camellia clock was a point of worry. Who would he find? Would he really feel that connection that others had felt, and did he really want such a connection? It was hardly magical when he discovered his soul mate attempting to rob an art gallery, and found himself unable to arrest him due to the sheer enormity of his instant attraction for the guy.
Aiden Maar was hanging onto the edge of life with both hands. He views his life as a time before and after—before his adoptive parents died and after he fell into the abyss that leaves him both an insomniac and in a very dark mental place. Adrift, both spiritually and emotionally, Aiden steals for the thrill and not necessarily for the financial aspect. He simply wants to feel something, anything, that doesn’t resemble the dark despair that is lodged so deeply within him. When he meets Shannon, every alarm within him goes off. He is certain he will ruin whatever happiness his rose road has the potential to offer, and he angrily pushes at Shannon, making it almost impossible for them to explore a relationship.
Gradually, both men come to terms with the fact that their soul mate is far from what they might have chosen for themselves, and realize they cannot continue to deny their feelings for each other. But the anniversary of Aiden’s loss is looming, and he’s not sure if he can survive yet another year being balanced between such all-consuming darkness and the fight to choose living in the light. Shannon will have his work cut out for him if he is to convince Aiden that they can make it together, that the love they feel for each other will not only help them survive but bring the happiness that Aiden craves and deserves.
This book, Fortitude Smashed, was a lovely romance and one that I wanted to watch unfold. Pacing-wise, I felt that the speed with which the author unwrapped all the layers surrounding the hearts of her main characters was fairly spot-on. At times, the first half of this lengthy novel felt a bit bogged down in the more descriptive passages used to establish what made Aiden and Shannon tick, but, overall, I really appreciated that these two men simply didn’t fall in love instantly and then work out their many differences. The pairing of a criminal and a cop was pure gold in my book, and this is where the book really shined. I felt their physical connection and understood how deeply they needed to move beyond that to an emotional connection that could exist beyond the bedroom. I loved that they found communication difficult, stilted and uncomfortable. Anything less from these two men would have felt forced and unrealistic, given how they were set up from the start of the novel.
Where this book really fell apart for me was in the unpacking of exactly what the Camellia Clock was—why everyone had one and what that meant for this world. When I finally read the blurb for this novel, prior to writing this review, I was astounded by the premise the clocks were based on, for none of that was even mentioned in the novel itself. In fact, other than a small scene nearly three-quarters of the way through the book, I was unaware of the idea that the clock was even a discovered bit of science. I kept waiting for the author to explain this whole phenomenon in the novel, and I grew increasingly frustrated when it never happened. This, to me, was a major oversight and one that made the book uneven and unfinished. There was also a brief mention of some who tried to defy the clock and avoid their rose road, but even that was glossed over and the consequences of their actions never really discussed. Therefore, the whole premise of this novel remained a mystery and that, I felt, really hurt this story in the end.
Fortitude Smashed is a wonderful romance that was well-paced, thoughtful and intense. Unfortunately, the novel was left unfinished when it came to evolving the premise upon which the entire story was based, and that left me questioning how much better it could have been had the full picture been presented.
You can buy Fortitude Smashed here: