Read Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke Online


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 soulAfter 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....

Title : Fortitude Smashed
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 35691550
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fortitude Smashed Reviews

  • Natasha
    2018-12-30 06:37

    Review also on my blogtwitterbookstagramI received an arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest reviewIf you're familiar with fanfiction you'd likely be aware that soulmate AU's are popular.. And that's exactly what this book is, a soulmate AU.The book follows Shannon, a detective with a careful nature, and Aidan, a criminal and burglar who is more daring but is also secretly soft. I really loved both of the characters. Shannon was very clearly not expecting someone like Aidan as his soulmate and when they meet at the start of the book his shock is clear. He initially doesn't know what to do with the situation, which is what made the book so interesting to read. Watching the two navigate their less than ideal match together was interesting. I really loved Aidan too. Aidan has a reputation of stealing art and overall, a notoriously hard to catch criminal and burglar. However, he is also rather insecure, as well as secretly soft. He also has a form of depression and anxiety which is exhibited throughout the book. He also has a great relationship with his brother, Marcus, and is shown so be less brash than his appearance would tell one. He's also obsessed with his cat which I loved. Something this book did that I really liked was that, rather than doing what'd be expected and have Aidan be experienced with sex and Shannon not, it was the other way around. Aidan hadn't had sex before meeting Shannon while Shannon was the one who'd had a girlfriend and previous sexual experience. I loved that as it played with the readers expectations. The book is pretty character driven, which I liked but it was a little dull at times. The world is also interesting. It's briefly explained why the system was put into place but that's about it. This kind of lack of world building doesn't bother me too much but I know some people need to know the ins and outs of their sci-fi. This also appears to be a worlds where everyone is pansexual, as the concept of the gender of one's soulmate is never put importance on and both characters were shown to have been attracted to women, so that's something I liked about the book. I will say one thing I was curious about the book was if there was mind to aromantic people or if everyone is pansexual like implied. That was one thing that kind of bothered me with the book.Overall, this was a fun read and I do recommend it, especially if you're a fan of soulmate AUs. 

  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓
    2018-12-31 12:39

    I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.Actual rating 2.5 starsSo, fun story (skip this part if you only care about my review) I requested this ARC because my buddy Rin said it was cute and it was kind of a soulmate AU (I mean it’s not an AU since it’s not fanfiction but you get the idea) and most importantly one of the protagonists owns a cat and he walks her on a leash, like how could I not want to read it?And I’m glad I did read it, you know. But the funny part of this story is that I finished reading it while having a fever, then proceeded to dream about writing this review (and my dream self even made up a few extra chapters of this book in her head, which she proceeded to read while dreaming, giving the book a completely different epilogue)……. Well I hope I’m not the only one having weird/obsessive dreams while being sick.Anyway, perhaps the negativity of being sick made my dream self start to see only the negative sides of this book, so that’s why I’m writing this review after having distanced myself a little, but there is one word that dream-Silvia kept thinking about to describe elements of the plot of this book, and awake-Silvia will use it.I don’t want to start with the negatives though, so I’ll talk about what I liked. The core idea, while not extremely original, was good. I think everyone has read a soulmate AU in their life once, and there’s a reason why they’re really popular. The idea that there is someone (one person only) out there who is perfect for you is appealing for those who believe in it, and soulmate AUs give life to this belief in different shapes. Here, it’s thanks to a timer that people find their soulmate. The explanation for the whole soulmate thing wasn’t very extensive and it wasn’t anything supernatural apparently but more of a result of science and technology, which I really liked. I would have liked to find out more about it but ok.Now, another thing that made me want to read it is the fact that the two protagonists are a cop and a thief. I really liked both characters individually and I also liked them together, so in theory I should have loved the dynamic that was supposed to be there (or that I expected to be there) thanks to those two roles (cop/thief screams enemies to lovers to me, which is my absolutely favorite trope ever). That dynamic was actually one of the things that I was most looking forward to, but I’m sad to say that there was no such thing.There was such potential to explore both the soulmate thing and the cop/thief thing, and I feel like I only saw 1/10 of what I was expecting. And here comes the word that dream-me thought of when trying to describe this: half assed. Admittedly dream-me might have been a little harsh with her wording (it doesn’t help that I don’t actually know a nicer equivalent word for that? #EnglishAsSecondLanguageProblems), but with no offense to the author, this is the best word that fits what my feelings towards many elements of the plot that were barely there and not explored, or not as much as I’d have liked to see them.The soulmate stuff was basically only an excuse to justify insta-lust, without really focusing on why these two people are perfect for each other. There was a lot of focus on their interactions, which should have showed me why and how the MCs are perfect together. Well, together they were cute I have to admit, but they didn’t scream “soulmates” to me. After all, a lot of the page-time of soulmate AUs is spent with one or both characters before their clock times out, and the reader gets to know them individually, their fears and expectations of their future soulmate, and only later sees them interact as soulmates. I’m not saying that all “AUs” need to be like that, but to me that’s the beauty of them, and here the two MCs interacted almost right away.As for the cop/thief dynamic, it wasn’t even there. Aiden (the art thief) wasn’t really a morally grey character, and his “hobby” (view spoiler)[(he also has a real job, that he sticks to after he gets together with Shannon) (hide spoiler)] was never truly a point of conflict between the MCs. It was actually never solved (I mean Aiden has more than a dozen paintings he has stolen and nobody cares about those anymore? (view spoiler)[Also after he gets together with Shannon he tells everyone he’s a thief and feels untouchable because of his boyfriend, which works for him I guess since nobody ever persecutes him for what he’s stolen in the past, but it also doesn’t send a nice message (hide spoiler)]).That’s why this word kept coming to mind: half assed worldbuilding (the explanation for the soulmate thing), half assed them being soulmates, half assed cop/thief dynamic. Everything was much more focused on the domesticity of their relationship, which works very well with some books (friends to lovers for example) but it’s not how I personally expected this story to go.Now, I don’t only want to be negative, because I truly enjoyed a lot of this book, especially the beginning. I kept reading because it was cute and light and I liked the MCs and it kept me interested in seeing their interactions as their relationship developed. I was in that mental space where you see that the book is not perfect but you’re still enjoying it without being too emotionally invested, but at some point it just kept dragging and I was honestly bored.Nonetheless, I kept reading, and that’s where even more half assed stuff was added to the plot (well, there wasn’t really a plot, was there?). Stuff that actually pissed me off, like the use of the trope “the bitch blond ex girlfriend who’s still in love with her ex and is super mean to her ex’s new SO, who is also filthy rich and doesn’t get why the MC is with someone that she sees as much lower than her in status”. That was literally only used to create unnecessary conflict (the conflict was right there right under your nose???? Cop/thief dynamic hello????) and prolong the book.Then, there tried to be some art theme (that’s what the title is about, if you were wondering). Guess? Also kinda half assed. (view spoiler)[Then some unnecessary sexual assault again used a plot device – of course on a woman! Please stop doing that, authors! (hide spoiler)]What I’m trying to say is that this book had the potential to be awesome (or at least even good) if it just stuck to its premise and stopped adding 3573730 details that were barely touched upon, taking away page time from originally sounded interesting just by reading the blurb. Sometimes less is more, and it could have been a nice 150-pages story, but dragging it to be much longer than that is what eventually made me dislike a big part of it. Which is a shame because as I said, I really liked the beginning, and I even think that the author’s writing style, while a little raw, has a lot of potential (I’m not allowed to quote because it’s an ARC but some sentences were really nicely written, almost poetic).One thing I liked was the representation though, and the fact that because of the clock system everyone seemed to be pansexual since the gender of their soulmate wasn’t previously known and both characters were shown to also be/have been attracted to women previously. There was also talk about how sometimes the system isn’t limited to two people, so even poly relationships are contemplated in the worldbuilding (I just wonder what the deal is with aromantic people since there didn’t seem to be an explanation for them. I assume that since it’s mentioned that sometimes the clock is wrong that would be their case).There was also representation of chronic depression which I feel was done well but I can’t speak for it since I haven’t experienced it myself. So, overall: I think the author can grow a lot and I’m going to keep an eye on her next works, but this one didn’t 100% work for me. I would still recommend it if you’re a fast reader (not my case sadly) and you don’t mind spending a few hours on something mostly really light, cute and queer-positive.TWs: non graphic sexual assault on a woman, depression, anxiety, dissociation (most TWs are listed at the beginning of the book)

  • Laura
    2019-01-11 13:16

    3.5 stars Thank you very much to Interlude Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke was not an anticipated novel for me this year, but I had seen quite a few of my fellow blogging friends reading and enjoying it, and so I, excitedly, requested it.Taylor Brooke should be praised for so effortlessly creating a world where queer sexuality is the norm. From my understanding, everyone in this semi-contemporary world has no problem with sexuality, and in fact most of them are queer; in fact, the main characters are queer too: Shannon is bisexual and Aiden pansexual. There was also a brief mention of non-mongamy and the inclusion of three or even four soulmates. The queer rep is fantastic and something many other authors should strive for in their novels.The main characters, Shannon and Aiden, felt quite individual with distinctive character voices. Shannon is a cop who is trying to live up to his father’s police reputation, but feels as though he is failing. Aiden is a thief who suffers from disassociated dysthymia, and who constantly feels inadequate. I adored their relationship and even swooned a few times at the romantic scenes. They fit well together as a couple, despite their many differences, and I enjoyed reading about how they learn to overcome their issues.Brooke’s writing was quite beautiful. There were many sentences that just blew me away. She has a great gift for writing and encouraging the reader to keep reading.There was a lack of world building in Fortitude Smashed, which lead to many occasions of confusion. My only knowledge about the soulmate pairing and the technology implanted under people’s thumbs came from reading the blurb. Embarrassingly, I just skimmed the blurb when I requested this book; basically, I just saw a few of my friends enjoying the book and assumed I would too, so I thought that everyone was born with this Camellia Clock imbedded under their thumb, not that technology had advanced enough for scientists to calculate the exact time soulmates will meet. Part of this confusion was my fault – read the damn blurb next time! – but there wasn’t much explanation of the Clock within the novel, aside from brief descriptions, and nothing about the history behind it.An issue I had with the novel is considered a major spoiler, but I feel like I can’t adequately explain my problem with the book without including this in my review. (view spoiler)[There’s a character who is introduced late into Fortitude Smashed called Daisy, who is Aiden’s long-lost childhood friend. She is a great character, who assists Aiden in a multitude of ways, but the treatment of Daisy was upsetting. Daisy is sexually assaulted by a stranger around the 83% mark, and the only reason I can understand why it happened was to bring Shannon and Aiden closer together. Her trauma doesn’t really serve another purpose. I was very upset by the use of violence against women as a plot device in any novel, and was quite uncomfortable by it’s inclusion here to make two characters admit they love one another. Personally, I feel that there are many other ways Shannon and Aiden could have confessed their love without the inclusion of sexual assault.Another issue I also had was the use of the stereotypical self-centred, blonde ex-girlfriend who is jealous of her ex’s new love and tries to screw up his new relationship. That’s a very common trope that irked me. However, the character – Chelsea – does grow from this, and the next book is about her, so I am excited to see what direction Brooke takes her character in.One minor issue that I want to mention is the way Aiden and Shannon’s ex, Chelsea, solve the problems between them: Aiden basically yells at Chelsea until she strikes him across the face, and then they’re friendly. That just … didn’t seem very realistic to me? If someone smacked me in the middle of an argument, I would not become their friend minutes later. I also don’t like it when female violence against men is viewed as acceptable, when it definitely is not.(hide spoiler)]I did except a little more from Fortitude Smashed, but for the most part – putting aside personal issues – I did enjoy the novel. I found the characters engaging and their romance beautifully plotted out. I really hope Brooke features Aiden and Shannon in the next book in the series, even for just a chapter or so.

  • Avery (Book Deviant)
    2019-01-09 13:20

    I would like to thank Taylor Brooke and the people at Interlude Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.See more of my reviews on my blog the Book DeviantI’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.five stars - Overall?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.

  • Jude Sierra
    2019-01-14 06:21

    Fortitude Smashed is the first and only book I have ever read for review that I re-read and took notes in the margins of with a pen and a highlighter. That I loved so much I wanted to wallow in on every level I would be allowed to. That’s been sitting on my nightstand for months just so I can keep savoring tiny moments.I read the book in one go; I fell in love with Aiden and with Shannon, I fell in love with them falling in love. The beauty of the conceit of fated people learning to be together in Brooke’s hands is this: These men are both ready and not, are willing and unwilling, and prickly but open. Their Rose Road gives them the space to struggle, as we do, but with the safety of understanding that this is meant. In this way, we are privileged to witness Aiden and Shannon as they go through a particular journey of personal growth that only this situation, this Rose Road, this circumstance could bring.In Fortitude Smashed Brooke built a family of secondary characters that I both adored and was incredibly irritated by at times — in short, she gave these men family and friends that were fleshed out humans, not just foils or plot devices to move particular aspects of the story around. A great cast of secondary characters is hard to pull off and Brooke does it. I love the gender/sexuality/identity representation we see thus far in this series — I’m excited to see what comes in the next few, as I’ve seen the author address questions related to this in blog tour interviews and on her twitter. I’d like to articulate my feelings on this well, but my friend Annie at From Top To Bottom Reviews has done a better job of capturing it here in her review.I read this book the first time fully knowing there was even more to the story under the layers Brooke created, but unable to stop because I was so caught up in the story. The point of this being: if you don’t feel like you want to do any literary analysis to enjoy the shit out of a beautiful book, you don’t. This book, I promise, will be a lovely experience regardless.That said…the first time I read Fortitude Smashed, I knew it was special. I knew I loved it a few pages in, but it was on page 26 when Aiden first speaks to the Empty Man that I knew that what Brooke is crafting in this series is literature.“Aiden thought the heart of the world, like fate, was buried in the sea and, despite his hunger, he would never find it.” (26)Fortitude Smashed is filled with some really heart stopping prose. I mean, the kind of phrase turning that makes you stop and re-read just to enjoy the sheer poetry of it. None of Brooke’s words or images function as still art alone. Rather, she deploys every image with precision.“Spread out on the bed with a blush creeping from his chest to his face, Aiden was still a cluster of knives. Shannon’s willingness to bleed defied every shred of control he had left.” (135)The second time I read this book, I had a pen, a highlighter, and lots of quiet. I savored it. I really let myself look at how Brooke used images, names, words, flowers to tell us more about Aiden (whose name, consequently means “little fire” or “ardent”) and Shannon (whose name means “wise river” or “possessor of wisdom”) (I’ll just let you sit in that lovely tidbit for a moment, take it with you when you read the book and it’ll just add a lovely layer).Brooke’s use of metaphor and imagery, particularly in reference to the two pieces of art, Fortitude Smashed and Catalyst, as well as the Empty Man Aiden meets on the beach at the beginning and near the end of the novel, are brilliantly situated, used, and executed. We begin the book with Aiden and Shannon meeting just as Aiden is attempting to steal Fortitude Smashed, a piece of art made of flowers and flower parts (lilies, dandelion and baby’s breath, all of which represent particular things. For example, lilies represent restored innocence after death). Aiden later tells Shannon he wanted to steal it because it reminded him of himself. When Shannon goes to buy it for him, after they’ve fallen in love, he actually sees it for the first time, and in it:“…a containment of life in death in one piece…The lily’s stem was snapped from the rest of the petals, which gave the flower a sense of detachment. It was nature’s grenade in the midst of detonating, a slow-motion explosion…” 147It is in this moment that Shannon really understands — this was who Aiden was in the moment they met. This is how Aiden understood and saw himself.As fate would have it, Shannon is unable to buy Fortitude Smashed — instead he buys another piece, which we don’t get to see until the end of the book: Catalyst, which is made of ivy and dandelion, calla lily and tulip: flowers that represent youth, rebirth, perfect love, fidelity, affectionate attachment. What I loved so deeply about this is that Brook doesn’t tell us any of this — she doesn’t give the reader the meanings. She’s given the reader gifts inside her prose. Aiden and Shannon’s struggle to understand, walk, and love one another as their Rose Roads is done gorgeously, with care and depth and understanding. And underneath it all Brooke infuses her language and images with depth and symbolism that make the story all that much richer.Before I finish with my high high praise for an #ownvoices story about mental illness, I want to go back to the Empty Man and how he functions as a catalyst at the beginning of the story when Aiden is really struggling with the idea that his Rose Road is a cop; when he’s struggling with his self worth and his demons; when we’re learning that despite his hard exterior, Aiden is terrified of not finding his heart. How deeply he wants that Rose Road and love.“‘Someone told me I would eat the heart of the world one day,’ Aiden said….’I’ve always loved the world, but I never thought I’d find the heart of it, the best of it, the center of it. I did though. I found it,” he added quickly. ‘Or it found me, I’m not sure which.’‘I don’t know either, but you’ve completely consumed it.’Aiden offered a shy smile, one of his gentle rarities, and he kissed Shannon again.” (315)To summarize there, thank you Taylor, for this really heart wrenching, human, gorgeous love story.And now, the part I really, really want people to leave with. This is an #ownvoices story in regards to mental health rep, with both Brooke (author) and Aiden having mental illness. Personally, as someone who also not only struggles with but survives with mental illness, Aiden’s story and representation meant the world to me. Shannon doesn’t cure Aiden. Fate, love, romance, sex — none of it “fixes” Aiden –– because there’s nothing to be fixed. Aiden is beautifully imperfect, he’s human, he has a mental illness, but he isn’t his mental illness. People living with depression or bipolar, with dysthmia or cyclothemia (me) or any other number of MI — our MI’s don’t define us. Stories where love “cures” or “fixes” characters with MI really bother me because that’s not how life works. My husband loves and supports me, his presence has helped save my life, but at the end of the day, I save my life. I make it through each day. I am the center of my survival and recovery. Brooke writes a love story with healing, with hope, and where the characters are ultimately the primary agents of change and wellness in their own lives, which they then bring to each other and their love. I can see this theme in Daisy’s story; I can see this agency in Chelsea’s story — I look forward to what Brooke will do with them in future books in this series with utter trust in her skill.

  • ren
    2018-12-19 13:32

    I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.I was expecting a lot from this book, then I wasn’t and then, well… I was. Again.I heard about Fortitude Smashed months before its arcs were out in the wild. The concept of soulmates, so popular in fanfiction, was something that drew me in as soon as I read the blurb. Despite some concerns (soulmates aus always treat aro and often ace people like crap), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.But when I started reading the eARC I got through Netgalley, my excitement evaporated. First, because it was so awfully formatted. I mean, it’s an ARC. It’s not supposed to be perfect. But the change of POV, the lack of space between words and dots and so on, started to grate on me a little. And the story wasn’t that interesting. Disappointed, I set the book aside for some time and days later got back to it more out of stubbornness than anything else.But then I hit 20% in the story and boom!, I was hooked.I couldn’t stop reading it. The writing became so more lush and, I don’t know, lyrical? I must be honest and say I’m usually not a fan of what most people call “beautiful, evocative writing”. It always end up feeling like purple prose to me, or at least like the author is trying to manipulate me into feeling something (which, as a writer myself, I know it’s true, but I don’t want to notice what is happening). So you can imagine my surprise when the more evocative writing of Fortitude Smashed really got to me.Still, the strength of this book lies in its characters. I love it when a book manages to treat its secondary characters well and Fortitude Smashed definitely did this (also, I think I already know who the next book is going to be about and I really hope I’m right). All of them had convincing personalities and had their own stories, problems and life.The main characters, though, were the best of all. Shannon and Aiden are complex and completely real, and even though they are so different they still managed to convince me of their love for each other, which is the main problem for me in most romance books. I still can’t explain exactly how they did it because even though I do like soulmates aus I hate instalove. And even though Aiden and Shannon fall in love kinda quick, it never felt like instalove. Does that make sense?Anyway, Fortitude Smashed was a beautiful, pleasant read. I can’t wait to see what the next books will bring. 4.0 stars.

  • Elke (BEroyal)
    2019-01-17 10:24

    This was literally a soulmate AU, except it had original characters and wasn't in an existing fandom. So not an AU at all, but you get me. I have the tendency to not read the synopsis of books if I already know I'll read them because it spoils the first parts of the book. However, here, it was kind of necessary to understand the soulmate thing. I was sad to see that the science, the technique behind it and how it worked weren't elaborated on more. It would have been interesting to see what it could have been if it went more to the sci-fi side of things. Because if we can determine when you'll meet your soulmate, there should be other cool things we can do too, no? But this is mainly (only?) a romance, a hate to love in a universe in which soulmates exist. It's very character driven, and whilst it liked both perspectives, it did seem to lack something for me. Maybe more worldbuilding, maybe more plot. Also more of an explanation of how soulmates work for aromantic and/or asexual people, and in regards to sexual and romantic attraction and gender. And in polycules. There was some mention of triads and quartets, which I appreciated, but what about V structures or elaborate constellations in which not everyone is romantically or sexually involved with all others? Those are only minor things, probably, but I'm immediately curious about the ins and outs of worlds and systems like this. And if it doesn't feel like they click, they're less believable, in a way. The book is definitely enjoyable, and I loved Aiden. I loved the mental illness rep. How this wasn't a love cures story, but a story of loss, love, hope, support, fight, struggle and growth. It was hopeful, and I'm grateful for the happy ending.I would have liked to see the cop/thief dynamic played out more, but on the other hand, this way they didn't deal with dangerous power dynamics that could be unhealthy. Apart from that, it was pretty fun, but not much more. The plot was definitely an issue because it didn't actually feel like there was one? But it was a good way to pass the time this evening. TW: off page sexual assault, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, non-graphic (mainly off-page) sex, fatal car crash, physical violence, ableist language, suicidal idolation, called out ableismI was very glad to see a list of trigger warnings with chapter numbers at the start of the book.

  • Leah
    2019-01-07 10:40

    Words are not enough to express how much I love this book. Read the full review on my blog!

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-25 10:19

    Read the full review and more on my blog!TW: Fire, Sexual AssaultCamellia Clocks are implanted beneath every infants thumbnail, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. It seems to work out about 98% of the time, and even though the clocks will count down until you meet your soul mate, it's still your choice what to do with that information and it still takes work to have a relationship. Honestly with that synopsis I was a bit worried about how the book would go, but i'm so glad I gave it shot as I ended up loving it!A thief, Aiden, attempting to steal a painting, and a detective, Shannon, end up timing out when Shannon catches Aiden attempting to steal said painting. Needless to say they were both kinda confused at that.It's own voices for bi/pan characters, and mental illness rep. Aiden suffers from Dissociative Dysthymia, a chronic depression. He gets panic attacks.I ended up relating to Aiden so much! His depression and his reactions mirror what i've experienced exactly! My reason are different than his, but the feelings are the same and I don't believe i've ever seen these feelings described so well, that fit me like a tee, in a book before. I've seen other great mental illness rep that fit me too in regards to anxiety but as for the Dissociative Dysthymia and panic attacks, not so much. Here, I felt like I was reading my story. It's an amazing feeling to know one isn't alone in such things. To know someone else understands.All the characters in this book are complex and very well fleshed out. It really shows you how to look beyond what you first see when you see someone. You can't tell someone's story just by looking at them and knowing one facet of who they are, people are so much more than that and I loved how this book captured that! They are flawed, and at times I got angry at some of the other characters, but everything ended up being unpacked. I was angry because I was supposed to be and for good reason. Conversations were had and stuff was called out.Yes, there is a romance here, but it is so much more than that. And no, mental illness is NOT cured by love. Yes it has a HEA, but Aiden is not cured. (Thank you!!)There isn't really much action or plot to speak of, this is much more character-driven. If you're looking for an action packed plot-based book, this isn't it. But if you want a story with well-fleshed out, complex characters going through their life, trying to figure stuff out, sometimes making mistakes and being human, that is sweet and will tug at your heart, i'd highly recommend this!Thank you to the author for giving me a chance to read this.My Booktube Channel

  • Annie ~ From Top to Bottom Reviews
    2019-01-08 06:35

    Reviewed for From Top to Bottom Reviews.*A copy of this was provided via NetGalleyThere is so much I want to mention in this review because... you guys, this book! I love it so much that I'm already reading it for the second time.First thing I noticed (and have to do a shout-out for) was the content warnings for each respective chapter at the beginning of the book.The characters!I adored every character, though Aiden is without a doubt my favorite cinnamon roll character. His brother says it best when he describes Aiden as a teenaged tiger. "You're like a six-month-old tiger; people wanna pet you but they're also scared you might kill them. That's the best way to be."[...] "Why a six-month-old tiger?""Because they're not totally grown yet. Still fluffy and cute, but big enough to eat you. Teenaged tiger. Emotionally constipated, brooding tiger." That just nails it. For those who don't know him he appears to be "hard" and prickly - and he can be those things when he wants to - but it's a safety mechanism; once you get a look behind the walls he's put up he's such a sweet and precious cinnamon roll. He doesn't think of himself very highly, but he's someone who'll buy a homeless person a meal, just to do something good. I also loved how tactile he was. And can anyone who walks his cat be bad? Because I don't think so.I really treasured that with Shannon, Aiden could just be. Aiden trusts only a small circle of people, so seeing him open up to Shannon made my heart skip beats.Shannon appears to be "perfect" compared to Aiden. He's one of the youngest people to ever become a detective - he's determined and successful in what he does. And he never expected his Rose Road to be someone like Aiden - someone who wears leather jackets and rides a motorbike. At first glance you'd think they have nothing in common, but - and that's something I really enjoyed - over the course of the book they realise, that they have more in common than it looks like at first.Surprisingly Chelsea really became a character I liked as well. I wasn't so sure at first - ok I didn't really like her - but I've really come to care about her and am looking forward to - hopefully - see more of her in the second book of the series.The Bi/Pan rep!The Camellia Clock doesn't care about gender. Because of that there's no surprise when one's Rose Road turns out to be of the same sex. I don't think enby people were specifically mentioned, but the way I understood the Camellia Clock is, that it pairs you with another soul - no matter where on the binary or non-binary someone is, no matter if you're allo or on the asexual spectrum and it also does not exclude poly-relationships. It simply pairs you with the person(s) who is/are perfect for you. It was weird at first to read about a world where there is no queerphobia. Seems like such a fantastical place where no one cares about who you're with. If I could, I'd move there within the hour!The Mental Health rep!Aiden wasn't magically cured. He got his happy ending, yes, but his dysthymia didn't magically disappear because he found his Rose Road. We see him have bad and good days during the book, and everything in between. The author mentioned on twitter that the mental health rep is #ownvoices. I don't have dysthymia, so I feel like I'm not the best to judge, but I think that the way Aiden's mental health is handled here is good. I'm not sure if there are ownvoices reviews regarding the mental health aspect out there yet but you should definitely check those out.(Edited to add, that Jude reviewed Fortitude Smashed on her website, where she talks about the mental health rep from an ownvoices point ot view.)The Prose!So lyrical, enchanting and consuming. Brooke created this gorgeous, layered - slightly SciFi-y - setting and filled it with life. The prose reminded me a bit of Jude Sierra's writing style. They're not the same, but both have this beautiful way with words that just leaves you in awe. More than once did I reread a passage simply because it's so beautifully written. Fortitude Smashed is just all around gorgeous - the characters with their struggles and hopes, the way the mental health is handled, but most of all the love and care between Aiden and Shannon. Their back and forth was sweet and delicious. This book isn't just another soul mates-story where you wouldn't know that the characters are soul mates without being told about it - it's a story where you can really feel why these characters were destined to end up together.I also loved the way Brooke handled consent in this story. And not just consent but also how considerate Shannon is. Aiden is a virgin when he meets his Rose Road. Usually virginity is treated like something you just have to lose by a certain age - not just in fiction, but in real life as well. If you're still a virgin when you're over that age, it's talked about as if one should be ashamed of it. Losing "the v-Card" is treated like it's a status symbol and to see Shannon not react in that typical macho way was just everything to me. He doesn't just say that they'll do things at Aiden's pace, but actually walks the talk. And there's also not that stupid posturing about being "the first". To me there's nothing sexier than that. I don't think I could love Shannon any more than I did in that moment.Taylor Brooke is definitely an author to look out for. All that's left to say now is: read it.

  • Miss
    2019-01-08 12:24

    you know i really really wanted to love this but at the end of the day it only managed to be okaythe tropes! it's soulmate fic with a cop/thief ship! this should have been my JAMhaving thought it over (because i really didn't want my review to be just rambling about how i would have done this differently, i want to judge the book on its own terms) here are the things that prevented me from really enjoying this experience:+ lack of early relationship building. look, soulmates shouldn't be used as an excuse to skip over people falling for each other, that is not the point of this trope. and it didn't initially seem like brooke was headed this route! when their clocks first count down shannon and aiden are mutually like tf??? nope, not about this, clearly fate made a mistake. i was looking forward to seeing how they'd overcome that reluctance! i wanted to see them start to click! i wanted conversations! instead they kissed and immediately were like ...well hey, that was good, i guess this soulmate thing wasn't a mistake after all! and i think brooke wanted to justify it by saying their soulmateship was based on physical attraction but eh. didn't work for me. the relationship building afterward left me lukewarm because the base felt so random+ the whole thief thing was really not utilized to its maximum potential. i'm not saying brooke had to go full white collar here but it's straight up window dressing. aiden pokes at shannon a time or two by teasing him about how much he's stolen (to which shannon responds with LALALA PLEASE STOP GIVING ME THIS INFORMATION) but he quits right away and it causes like zero character conflict beyond shannon's initial soulmate can't be a reaction (which as i pointed out above he gets over REAL QUICK)+ idk y'all i feel like at the end of the day there was just a lack of real depth to this book? like she'd throw in occasional conflict (aiden's arrested for assaulting a police officer! here's shannon ex-girlfriend chelsea who we are gonna be unneccessarily dickish towards! (view spoiler)[(the book kept telling me she was a bitch and i was like ...look, fine, i'll assume she's being passive-aggressive in tone and body language but her early in text behaviour does not merit aiden's response at all? i can't believe you literally had sex in her bed after she invited you to her party and you're still trying to tell me her and aiden's behaviour is equivalent??? wtf did he have to be a dick about, he's the one actually dating shannon now, at least pretend to be gracious?????) (hide spoiler)] aiden beats the shit out of a guy who tries to assault daisy! things are happening! this is plot z, why are you still so bored?!!!) but they were all just...thinon a positive note, the basic writing mechanics are competent? also if you like the style it's probably the kind of thing you'd describe as beautiful or poetic? (alas, for me personally, there's one paragraph where said poeticism sounded almost exactly like a poem i'd written when i was fifteen and it was very hard for me to not retroactively be like ah yes, what a beautiful attempt at writing the mindset of a teenager in a twenty-something man's body) i appreciate the attempt to educate about mental health and create a world without default heterosexuality? if netgalley gives me the sequel i'll prob read it out of a faint desire to see justice for chelsea?2.5 stars

  • Julian Winters
    2018-12-22 09:35

    It's easy to be drawn into Fortitude Smashed by one tagline: soulmates. Who doesn't love a great soulmates trope? Add in the conflicted dynamic of cop/burglar soulmates? Where do I sign up?Thankfully, this book is so much more than a tagline.There is nothing understated about what Taylor Brooke does. Her writing is dynamic, her prose is gorgeous, her characters are sharp-edged but completely loveable, her dialogue is fluid and thought-provoking, and the Southern California setting is breathtaking—something Brooke reminds readers of chapter-after-chapter. I was drawn to this book by the soulmates tag and couldn't stop reading after the first page.Shannon and Aiden are contrasting characters facing similar, but wildly different lives. They're both hesitant and anxious about meeting their soulmate, their Rose Road. They're equally trying to escape some form of shadow from their parents' lives. Shannon, a cop, does it through his work. Aiden, an art thief, does it by rebelling against everything. But the electric energy Brooke creates upon these two characters first meeting keeps you throughout their entire journey. It's hard not to succumb to the way these two compliment each other in a scarily honest way. How they are navigating through acceptance of their own broken pieces, but unwilling to let the other see that. Their personal growth isn't ignited by their romantic journey; it's created by the circumstances of things they've avoided, but slowly begin to see as truths about their lives.The women in both Shannon and Aiden's lives are raw, blunt, and one of the best parts of the novel. These characters are flawed, and it feels as if Brooke is just touching the tip of their growth in this novel. There's more to their story ... and I eagerly anticipate it. But what these women bring to Shannon and Aiden's life is a reality check. They aren't characters who mysteriously unlock the answers to Aiden and Shannon's struggles, which is wonderful. Instead, Brooke gives brief glimpses of how family and friends can help guide us, but they have their own journeys to face. Not once did I feel as though Daisy or Karman or Chelsea (or Marcus, Fae, and even Broken Man) were tour guides through Aiden and Shannon's Tunnel of Love & Misunderstanding. Brooke did a superior job of making me adore (and, at times, despise) these women—imperfect and human, something I love in a great secondary character.Brooke is a wordsmith. Having never read anything by her before, I was unprepared for how she could craft scenes, emotions, and simple actions into something that would stay with me for days. If I had a printed copy, I would have decorated in pages and pages of yellow and blue highlights. The prose is that good. She's fearless with descriptions, metaphors, and making the reader think. I thought I was reading a romance—I was truthfully reading an introspection of what we are outside of the expectations of love in our lives.Another thing Brooke is brilliant at is unsettling the reader. Don't get comfortable. Don't daydream. Not for one second was I allowed to simply gush and swoon and preen over Aiden and Shannon's relationship. Yes, their banter was humorous. Of course, their sexual tension was to die for. Without question, the way they could be tender and raw (and clumsy, too) with each other in private made my heart race. But it's the way Brooke kept building this world around (and inside) them that kept my guard up. Brooke is a clever writer—never leaving one moment without a meaning. She writes life as it is—one beautiful moment filled with many interludes and refrains and even a drum-pounding solo between the loveliness. One moment, Shannon's touching Aiden's face and Aiden is mapping out Shannon's skin ... then Aiden is withdrawn and cautious, for a reason. Aiden is in a fight behind a bar; Shannon is chasing down a perp. They're in a treehouse, teasingly sweet and honest; then Aiden is blushing and Shannon is intense and the reader is Googling "what is the appropriate heart rate while reading a book?"The care, but honesty Brooke writes about mental illness, assault, and death is painstakingly real. To read an Own Voices novel that does not use mental illness or survival as a way to push the plot is comforting. It's true representation. Brooke doesn't write Aiden as a character the reader is meant to feel sorry for or hoped to be "cured." He's not living in a black hole of emptiness because of his illness. He lives with it; sometimes successfully, sometimes with struggle. He's living with his loss. A part of the novel that sticks out to me is when Shannon laments about not being there for Aiden before their Camellia Clocks destined them to be together. And Aiden rejects that mentality. He doesn't believe Shannon is in his life to fix him or to pull him out of a never-ending darkness. That's important. That is fantastic, blunt honesty about life: love is wonderful, but a partner is not meant to repair us. Aiden survived before Shannon, and he will continue to survive with Shannon by his side.At the end, Brooke crafts perfect moments of hope between this chain of flawed individuals. Their growth, both in life and love, is inspiring. But, also, the way Brooke retains their flaws instead of magically making them perfect saints is what made me smile the most. What Brooke has is a gift; what readers walk away with is hope, strength, inspiration, and just a few butterflies circling their stomachs.

  • Kristel
    2019-01-16 10:39

    This is my 100th book and with it I've officially completed this year's Reading Challenge! Yay!“Reminds me of myself,” Aiden had admitted. Smashed up and spread out, not ruined, but a little bit of a mess. A lot of a mess.Imagine being born in a world free of homophobia with all the unjustified hate it comes with, being free to love whoever you like and being certain at some point in your life you’ll find your soul mate thanks to a clock installed on your thumbnail. Imagine how restless yet relieved you must feel knowing the time will come for you to love and be loved like nothing you’ll ever dreamed of. Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the euphoria. Imagine the pain of having and then maybe losing. Imagine.This book enchanted me. It starts fast throwing the soul mate bomb right from the beginning. We meet Shannon, a 25-year-old detective, trying to catch a burglar in an art gallery. Said burglar is no other than Aiden, his Rose Road, his soul mate. The clock times out and it’s electrifying. Literary electrifying. Something awakes in both of them and no matter how much they want to fight it, there’s really no way the clock is wrong. There’s too much interest, too much chemistry, fate is not wrong.“The world loves you.” Shannon sighed against his mouth. “And if it ever stops loving you, remember that I do.”There’s not a “but he’s a guy” part. Why is that? At first it got me puzzled and I was anxiously waiting for the homophobic remarks but it seems that in this version of the world there is no such thing as sexual interests. They all like whomever they want to like, no exceptions, no one’s save. The sea has plenty of fish and all of them for you to choose. They might have different tastes, who doesn’t, but never and I repeat never people are questioned or looked differently because of the ones they love. I loved the little bet Shannon’s parents had going on about his Rose Road being a boy or a girl. See? If only the real world was this problem free. Shouldn’t be that hard. Guess it’s only my occasionally over optimistic brain at work again.I now realize that everything I can say about the story might ruin it. I don’t even want to tell you about the characters, their backstories, because I’m afraid I’ll give too much up. The summary tells what’s necessary to know and that’s how I got hooked and that’s why I got all kinds of feelings reading it almost nonstop until I woke up yesterday a little hangover and the first thing I did before leaving the bed was finishing the last 20% I got left to read.They kissed, messy and overwhelmed and honest, the kind of kiss that told a story—incomplete—but a story all the same.This book is a journey. It’s slow and it doesn’t give you in detail everything that’s going on. It’s like a documentary on the lives of Shannon and Aiden from the day they found each other and found out they were each other’s Rose Road, each other’s soul mates. You see pieces of their lives from both their points of views. You see their fears, their pain, their past, their weaknesses, everything they have to fight to be the best version of themselves and open up to this new reality. It’s not over sexualized; there are not explicit sex scenes and, as much I never say no to those, I felt this book maintained its “I’ll give you just what you really need to know” vibe it had going on all along.The new reality comes like lightning. It struck them and changes them, making both of them vulnerable, forcing them to believe that fate is real and it’s beautiful. I truly loved the concept of this book and the slowness of the events, how they happen when they’re supposed to happen, how they make you shake with anticipation and anxiety. I was constantly afraid, constantly fighting different feelings, constantly cheering and daydreaming. I was cuddled by the emotions and I felt myself relaxed a little into the story as I let it unfold. And it unfolded like magic. Magic like knowing you’ll find your soul mate to love but not taking it for granted because life gives but it also takes so you cherish it, protect it, save it if necessary, and open your heart to all the possibilities your future have from the day the clock flashes 00:00.“You’re my best kept secret, Aiden. You’re the most vibrant thing in the room, artwork unlike any other.”I think this book is wonderful and it touched every fiber in me. I find myself smiling thinking about it. I feel a little bit like the painting “Fortitude Smashed”: nature and art mixed, bright colours, fragile, one of a kind, kind of messy, a strong will and a fighter. Art that gets noticed, it is loved but it’s also misunderstood.“Reminded me of you,” Shannon said. It was easy to say because it was the truth, but if he had to explain it, Shannon feared he might ruin everything.I loved this with all my heart. So many feelings, tears and happiness. The struggles, the self-sabotaging, the pain, the suffering, the love hard and real and overwhelming. It was deep and it was great. A book I will remember and keep with me from today on.-----------------------------This scene broke me. I was laughing so hard I had to stop reading for a while and focus real hard to start breathing again.“Gardenia?” Warmth pooled in Aiden’s abdomen, spreading out into the rest of him like unruly vines. “They don’t give you cop-scented soap with your uniform?” Aiden felt Shannon’s smile pressed between his shoulder blades at the top of his spine. “You don’t like it?”“That’s not what I said.”“What do you use? Ice Pick? Eagle Screech?”How ridiculous are some of real life “for male” bath products? Let’s make it male, real male: black, grey or dark blue and with an awful improbable name, that’s it!

  • RoAnna Sylver
    2019-01-14 09:42

    "You are alive." Shannon's hands smoothed up Aiden's back, pressing on jutting bone, counting piano keys, dragon spines. "You're alive," he said again. "Things like you can't die. The world would die right along with you."* * *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review - and I'm very glad I did. The premise is a familiar one - "soul mates," and a countdown clock until their lives collide - but it's the complex character studies and gradual, organic development that makes this romance stand out. The prose is absolutely gorgeous, and Laguna Beach is so lovingly described as it changes through the year that it almost becomes a character in itself, with moods and development day to day.Interestingly, and something I particularly liked is that there is no clear antagonist or villain in this story. The plot doesn't rush toward a climax so much as follow everyone in their natural adjustment and changing dynamics toward one another. It's not a headlong rush down a story's (rose) road; it's more about finding the road itself and starting down it with a single, paramountly-important first step. The first step is the hardest, but fortunately, it's one that nobody has to take alone.I'm not at all saying that this book is dull or suffers at all from the lack of an external threat (the biggest threats are internal, like so much in life). Characters do have conflict, but it's very much an example of "everyone doing their best in a shitty situation," and I always am very much here for this. Circumstances are complex and difficult to navigate, but everything is just so much more engaging when everyone is genuinely trying their hardest and not actively trying to tear one another down. Conflict-for-no-real-reason and antagonism for the sake of it is boring, lazy, and disappointing, and this story is none of the above.The mental illness portrayal is honest, raw, and frank. I don't have dysthymia specifically, but I can speak from experience with intense grief and the resulting PTSD/depression that Aiden's reactions and processing are spot-on there. Healing is messy and non-linear, and can rarely be accomplished alone, or any other way besides simply getting through one day after another, until there are enough of them behind you for time to heal some damage, or at least numb.The one thing I would have liked to have seen more of is how the clocks/rose roads really worked... and the implications for aromantic and asexual people. I think everyone does get a countdown clock under their thumbnail implanted at birth, and the only criteria we get is "emotional intimacy," if I remember correctly. While this could mean a ton of different connections/intimacy aside from romantic or sexual... aromantic and asexual rose roads or people in general aren't really mentioned, and it's implied that the vast majority of pairs, at least, are. I wouldn't call it straight-up erasure, or overtly aphobic - this is a story about two particular rose roads, sure, so it's going to focus on them - but I really would have liked to have more acknowledgement of non-romantic or sexual bonds, and how they can be every bit as important and vital to one's life as a romo/sexual one. Frankly, in a story like this one, having ace or aro characters' dynamics/pairing (or rejection of it!) would have been incredibly validating and just a super interesting take on a classic trope. It's a missed opportunity, and a shame, but as an ace/arospec reader, I didn't feel deliberately excluded or dehumanized either. If this is you, your mileage may vary, of course, so read at your own discretion/if you think the rest will be worth it. (It was for me.)That said, I did really appreciate the nod to polyamory - the book says that some peoples' clocks go off in groups of threes/fours/more. As someone with an extremely tight, small group of trusted/loved ones (and a polyamorous person), it was wonderful and validating to read.Ah, two things I wanted to see, actually - I'm convinced (and it's hinted, I think) that two other characters' clocks were going to go off soon, Rose-Road-ing one another. I personally shipped it super hard and would have loved to see the payoff, but it didn't come. I think it's implied enough (and I'm just choosing to believe it did, okay), but the book ends after a several-chapter leadup, and... This had to have been a conscious author-decision, showing that not everything has to be neatly resolved, and life goes on - and on the upside, there are always more mysteries/things to look forward to. I don't even *disagree* with the choice to not show the resolution here... I will just vibrate with unresolved shipping energy for the remainder of the evening.All in all, super enjoyable, gorgeous prose, a vibrant setting, and memorable characters. Enjoy!

  • Michelle Osgood
    2019-01-11 07:33

    I devoured this book. Aiden and Shannon are such vivid, raw characters and I ached along with them as they tried not only to come to terms with their Camellia Clocks and each other, but with themselves. (Also I LOVED that the Camellia Clocks work for poly folks as well!) The chemistry between the two leads was electric, and my only disappointment is that the sex scenes are fade to black ;) I cannot wait for the sequel – I am dying for Daisy and Chelsea to get together!

  • rin (lorenzo)
    2019-01-02 12:36

    despite having several problems with this book, i actually quite liked it.have you ever read soulmates au fanfiction where soulmates have clocks on their bodies (wrists, necks, etc)? this is basically the main idea of the story. two gyus, one a cop (Shannon) and one an art thief (Aiden), meet and cop tries to arrest the thief and suddenly their clocks go off.first of all, what really bugged me is that soulmates here are called "Rose Road" or "Rose". so there are sentences like "Is he your Rose Road?" and here is me cringing the hell out. soulmate is fine?? why be so extracop/thief dynamics are very underwhelming. i expected some struggle, especially from Shannon because he had high moralities, but there were almost none. and thief's substory handled poorly (view spoiler)[because there is an open case! (dude literally stole 16 art objects (7 in the case)), but nobody cares! i was waiting for it to become a problem, but it didnt??? also for a criminal Aiden told literally everyone what he does, wtf(hide spoiler)]i also found romance kind of insta-lust -ish but it's a tricky case, because there is this soulmate stuff.also for me, it lacked climax. the plot fell kind of flat. (was there even a plot?). i don't mean it in a bad way though, sometimes i need something like this.(view spoiler)[also i don't think that sexual assault part in the end of the book was really necessary (hide spoiler)]i really liked Aiden though. i mean dude owns a cat!!! and he walks her on a leash!! and he talks to her all the time!!!! give me more cat people in my books!!! this shit is relatable af!!! (that's not his only personality trait but that what mattered to me the most okay #priorities)also the romance was adorable. their relationship was more physical than emotional and i enjoyed seeing their struggles (not in a bad way). there is slight miscommunication since they haven't properly talked about it, but overall i really liked Shannon and Aiden's relationship.also Shannon's parents are of the themes of this book is mental illness. Aiden suffers from chronical depression and anxiety. his coping mechanisms are unhealthy. i'm not competent enough to talk if it's good rep or not, but i feel like it was done ..okay. (view spoiler)[and thankfully, love doesn't cures it all here (hide spoiler)]my rating is 6 out of 10.I’ve received an arc via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my review.

  • Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
    2019-01-13 07:20

    (I received this arc from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)The clock stops. Fate decides. A police officer falls for a thief. A man struggles with grief and depression. The lives of their friends and the pain of their pasts intertwine with the love story neither of them is sure they’re ready for.Fortitude Smashed is that soulmate AU where everyone has a clock counting down to when they meet their soulmate, but in a weird way, because it doesn’t quite go all the way there. There are hints that this society is different from our own because of these clocks, but it’s not completely fleshed out, perhaps understandably — it’s a love story, not a think piece on how our world would change if we could predict when we will fall in love. What Fortitude Smashed does play with is the idea of questioning fate.Aiden’s struggle with how he feels about Shannon is tied to his guilt over the death of his parents years ago. The question is not just will they accept each other, it’s whether Aiden can start working toward recovery and trust Fate when it’s never been kind to him before.So the story is about personal decisions and not so much, you know… plot. And the hints the blurb drops about whether the two men will “love one another or defy fate” is not really the question that dominates the story — it’s solved fairly quickly compared to Aiden’s struggles with depression and his past. It’s slow moving, over-dramatically introspective, but ultimately surprised me with its intensity and the use of its minor characters. I really liked it, as much as I like to grump about the cheesiness and lack of plot. Just go in realizing the conflict is really internal, and it’ll be a better experience.

  • Ann Elise Monte
    2018-12-22 09:30

    This book hit my radar last year but I really didn't have the time for it, so here we are!Details at a glance:Pairings: M/M, side M/FSexual content: Non-explicit on-the-page sexRep: Queer adoptee MC with dissociative dysthymia and anxiety (pansexual by Word of God), queer MC (bisexual by Word of God), fat supporting character, Latina(?) supporting character, black supporting character, queer Chinese supporting character (her surname is apparently a Cantonese transliteration but she speaks Mandarin; I don't know enough to know if that's an issue)Ownvoices: Yes for bi/pan (even though the rep isn't explicit), dysthymia, and sexual assault survivorContent warnings: Ableist language (minimal), anti-fat language, sexual assault (some of the warnings in my edition were inaccurate as the chapter 18 case of sexual assault, nonconsensual kissing, occurs on-the-page rather than off), panic attacks, dissociation, suicidal ideation, suicide jokes (not condoned), ableism (not condoned)***This book took me a while to read so it's hard to get some coherent thoughts together.Overall, I found it to be a good read though I did feel there were some weaknesses in the worldbuilding. While it's good that queerness isn't a big deal, I did feel a serious lack of discussion about what this soulmate thing actually entails. Is it always romantic or can it be platonic? Some people never experience sexual or romantic orientation, and may or may not be interested in romance. Apparently the author has discussed this in social media chats, but it doesn't show up in the book itself. Maybe that'll be better addressed in the sequel. There is a throwaway mention of polyamorous triads, which was nice.In short: I would've liked less Word of God regarding the worldbuilding, and even characters' sexualities, and more actually explaining things in the book.The two POV characters, Shannon and Aiden, were both engrossing. Shannon is a police officer who is afraid of having to shoot a suspect, and Aiden is an art thief. Aiden also has dysthymia as a result of losing his parents a few years ago, and much of the narrative is about learning to navigate that. Aiden's mental illness isn't cured by his relationship with Shannon; he's just another person he can lean on for support. Aiden's friend Daisy is far more familiar with his illness. But much of Aiden's arc is about dealing with his illness for his own sake, not because of the people around him.I could've done without Aiden calling his cat anti-fat names.Aiden was adopted as a baby into a Black family, and still has a living brother, Marcus. He was fairly prominent for a while, but then kind of dropped off the map for the rest of the story. The ways Aiden and Shannon's lives intersect regarding the people in their lives does result in some pretty amusing scenes.I had a hard time with Shannon's ex, Chelsea, at times. At first, she's really just there to complicate things with Shannon and Aiden. She did grow on me after a while, but I had to wade through a fair amount of frustration first. Just as well that improved, since she and Daisy are the focus in the sequel.I found the plot a bit random and jumpy at times. The writing was good, but something about it wouldn't let me focus properly sometimes. The characters are strong enough that the book was still engrossing, but I do wish the plot had been a bit stronger in places.Something that bothered me a bit:(view spoiler)[There is a particular scene late in the book that involves sexual assault that I'm really not sure even needed to be there. The plot would've been fine without it, and it did feel like it was being made to be about the characters who weren't assaulted. I'm not super happy about the whole thing and I know I'm not the only one, but the author is a sexual assault survivor herself and the situation will apparently be unpacked better in the sequel.I'm not a huge fan of having to wait for sequels for messy things to be unpacked, but that's what we've got.Edit: Given the author's apparent propensity for publicly (though without targeting specific reviewers) complaining about reviews that dislike this scene, let me add that a large part of my issue with this scene is due to the weakness of the plot in general. In many ways, this scene is just a symptom of a wider craft issue. I wrote a longer reaction to the author's complaints on my Wordpress but I can't be bothered linking it. (hide spoiler)]I also had some trouble figuring out some characters' ethnicities at times... like, just say it outright rather than dancing around it.This review is sounding way more negative than I intended. I love the dynamic between Aiden and Shannon and their respective character arcs. I adore Daisy, the massive nerd. Shannon's coworker Karman is a single mother who never fully dealt with losing her soulmate, though she is back on the dating scene. Karman has some great dialogue, but she's also there in opposition to Aiden in many ways due to her general refusal to actually confront her problems, and her impatience with people who are struggling with theirs. There are hints that Shannon's father is touch-averse. Oh, and I love Shannon's parents, especially his mother.I'd go as far as to say that characterisation is clearly Taylor Brooke's forte.There are so many cute scenes between Shannon and Aiden, especially once they've dealt with the initial WHAT THE FUCK phase of their soulmate clocks pointing them to each other. Aiden can be prickly and confrontational, and Shannon isn't always sure what to do with that. Fans of the Captive Prince trilogy will probably enjoy their dynamic (and there's no slavery in this book to contend with).Fortitude Smashed is a pretty solid first book for the series and I am interested in reading more and have rated it fairly highly on Goodreads despite my issues. Just as well, because I requested--and was approved for--the ARC to the sequel before my copy of this had arrived.

  • Carrie Pack
    2019-01-19 08:41

    Review to come!

  • Naomi Tajedler
    2018-12-29 06:24

    This book has everything a soft sci-fi should aim for--at least everything I wanted to find in it.Soulmates trope? Check.Slow burn, with a real relationship? Check.Platonic relationship that are important? CHEEEECK.Art reference? Check :3The specualtive fiction element present while being entirely believable and anchored in a world that could be the not so far away future? CHECKKKKFortitude Smashed has a formidable world building supporting it, a solid frame that draws the reader in. It is populated by an array of characters I loved, loved to be angry at, loved to be fond of--isn't that love, really?I cannot wait for the next installment of the Camellia Clock Cycle, or any book Taylor Brooke will give us!

  • L.M. Pierce
    2018-12-24 13:26

    "Laguna Beach was a canvas. The sky twisted colors into shapes, manifested sound into sculptures. Daydreams came to life on the horizon, bursting from the sun as it melted into the ocean. Reflected of the top of the water, segments of the coming night shone and glittered. High above the leftover sunset, stars blinked awake beside a waning moon."** I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review **As with most of my reviews, I will include this disclaimer: I do not read romance and was a little "ehhhhh" when I realized that's what this was. I am clearly an idiot. THIS BOOK MADE ME SWOON. AND CRY. AND LAUGH. So much laughing! Brooke’s writing is in turns breathtaking, infuriating, and captivating – the characters jump off the page, cut you open, and nestle inside your rib cage. I think I will be thinking of Aiden and Shannon (and Daisy and Chelsea) for a long time to come. Fortitude Smashed accomplishes several things I want to speak to, because they are important:1) Talking about grief, mental illness, and how we cope with shit that’s un-copable. 2) Humanizing those we dehumanize, painting an “anti-hero” as worthy, lovable, and capable.3) Balancing the realities of love with the insanity of love.I don’t want to delve too deeply and spoil aspects of this story, but it is by and large romance. The writing (dear lord, the DESCRIPTIONS), the characters, the conversations smash this one out of the park. There is no gratuitous sex scenes and there doesn’t NEED to be. It was hot and arousing and beautiful and toe-curling and accomplished more with what was left unsaid by what IS said. Seriously, read this book. Even if you’re not typically into romance, you might find yourself absolutely swept away by Aiden and Shannon. I definitely was. There are a couple elements that I wanted more of, but that didn’t detract from my overall experience, and speaks more to how well Brooke writes. The story centers around the concept of a Camelia Clock – a little clock in your fingernail that counts down the moment until you meet your “Rose Road,” essentially your potential soul mate. This is such a cool concept, but I was disappointed that the origin of this device was never fully fleshed out or explained. I wanted to know who invented it, how it was decided that each baby would be implanted with it, etc, etc, etc. I wanted to know more about this society and reality that is able to conceive such a thing. Otherwise, the world is absolutely OC, Laguna Beach, typical (I'm actually from So. Cal so I can actually speak to the accuracy here). So I was left wanting to know more. The book IS a romance; the driving force is the relationship 100%. I think this is where the “I don’t typically read romance” part kicks in for me – because I wanted more of the world and also more of a plot, outside of the relationship itself. Don’t get me wrong, the experience was absolutely enthralling even without this elements, and again, speaks more to Brooke’s talent and my obvious greed for MORE MORE MORE. These are good things. On a personal note… speaking as someone who has experienced horrible loss and trauma, and having been a “wild one” myself, I felt absolute resonance with Aiden. The inner war, the turmoil, the suffering… it all rings as absolute truth and thus was an emotional read for me in many ways. I think it will be for many. Read it.

  • Sara Codair
    2019-01-11 13:20

    Disclaimers: I got a free copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I don’t usually read romance.I generally won’t pick up a book if I know it is just romance, but the speculative element of Fortitude Smashed, the Camilla Clock, got me curious. The opening was perfect -- it had interesting characters, plenty of tension, and just enough world building to show this world was like the real with one slight difference -- the clock that timed out when people met their soulmates.The characters were complex and fluid. The prose were gorgeous. In fact, the description was so well done that it almost made me want to go to Laguna Beach, even though the southern parts of california are on my list places to avoid (its a pretty long list). My favorite parts of the book were the ones with the most tension -- when Aiden and Shannon’s past selves collided. However, I did feel like there weren’t enough of these, like it was too easy for Aiden to stop being a thief. Sometimes I got a little bored with all the kissing and biting, and would’ve rather seen a little more cop work and stealing (or trying not to steal).The other area the writing shined was in the parts of the book showcasing friendships. They were real, raw, and emotional. If you like romance, literary, and/or science fiction, then I recommend reading this. It’s lyrical and successfully crosses two genres. I’m glad I read it.

  • Metolius
    2019-01-04 13:15

    "Lovely book about soulmates with a cast full of raw, real characters that will resonate with any reader. A contemporary romance at heart with science fiction elements and a setting to die for. Laguna Beach was a character all on its own. A good book for anyone looking for a HEA that tackles issues like mental illness in smart, engaging ways, and are in need of characters who are flawed, have doubt and still stand strong. Not too much heat for a New Adult, but enough to be considered classy and steamy. Most definitely enjoyed it. Trigger warnings provided in beginning of the book!"

  • Isabella ~Mikku-chan~
    2019-01-04 07:37

    *~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*Fortitude Smashed was a title which had shown up on my twitter timeline several times and I always though: mhmh, nice cover, what it is? but then mostly ignored it for a while. At the end I am so happy I didn’t and took a closer look and got a copy of the book.The book is, and I don’t exaggerate, a gem I found. I read the blurb and the mentioned Rose Roads & Camellia Clock, this soulmates concept picked my interest. I am a sucker for biological things in books when I read a sci-fi-esque (don’t worry, this book is set in the present time and only the implanted chip is the “futuristic” thing) book. So, it’s a high praise when I say that this book blew me away. :3It has a pretty calm writing, at least it feels so. That doesn’t mean it’s boring. No, the thrill lies in between the lines. And that’s the strenght of the book: the deep, sometimes high poetic way of writing. The words are flowing, some things are told explicit, other are just a vague mention, especially the sexual encounter between Shannon and Aiden.We get the on-page erotic but wrapped in such a great way of writing. You have touching, kissing – loads of kissing, so hot, so sensual, so sweet – groping, but also the vulnerabilty. Not only because Aiden is a virgin, no, it’s more that there is a pure connection between those guys.Of course the fact that they are each other’s Rose Roads, soulmates, is one thing but we learn it’s a decision the person have to take by themself. The choice to accept is still there, therefore the bond between Aiden and Shannon is even sweeter. Both are the opposite, but they compleate each other so perfectly. ❤ And never is Shannon nothing but understanding and never forces Aiden to do things he won’t like.Also their sexuality is never a problem, never a deal-breaker and the representation of so many varieties of the sexual spectrum is amazing. It is also explained in which way the Camellia Clock works.In the blog tour of the book, hosted by Interlude Press, there are so many informative blog posts about the book’s background, the character, inspirations. See this overview graphic and visit the blogs. 🙂 I also advise to folllow the author on Twitter to get more glimpses of the further books in the series or deleted scene snippets. :3The different representations of sexuality are so well included, in fact, Shannon’s parents have a bet on their son’s Rose Road’s gender and it’s no matter for them. It’s super funny how easygoing those two guys in general are, in fact the whole “meet-the-parent”-part with Aiden. You love the parents right from the start, you can’t help yourself. ❤As I say they both come from a different background, both have different “jobs” (if you cound Aiden’s as one ;)); we have kinda enemies to lovers, but it’s more because of the moral aspect. Shannon is constantly forced to challenge his priciples, his believes, and Aiden can’t help himself and has his own reason to steal things. The reason for it is explained.That’s a thing I adore, no actually LOVE about the book. The on-page explanations are there, the reasons behind the character’s behaviour is shown, it’s palpable through the whole book which makes it sooo awesome.Also there are trigger warnings given right from the start, and that’s what I want to stress out. The warnings are necessary and so, so essential. :3The whole book is dealing with mental illness, constantly, because Aiden is suffering from dysthymia, but it nether tries to solve the problems, never wants to “heal” the person. It’s more the acceptance to live with the mental illness, with the effect it have to the daily live, to the person.And, ohmygod, Aiden, he is such a sweet character and the one part where his brother Marcus (shout out to this character, one of the best supporting character in a book) is saying he is a “teenaged tiger”, already dangerous but not full-grown, is one of the best scenes. :3(While reading I posted on my twitter account he reminds me of Yurio from the popular ice skating anime Yuri on Ice and I ment it as a true compliment to Taylor Brooke and her writing. <3).The mentioned scene is this:<<“You’re like a six-month-old tiger; people wanna pet you but they’re also scared you might kill them. That’s the best way to be.”Aiden threw his hands in the air […]“Why a six-month-old tiger?”“Because they’re not totally grown yet. Still fluffy and cute, but big enough to eat you. Teenaged tiger. Emotionally constipated, brooding tiger.”>>It also shows the bond between the brothers and I melted away. ❤This guy, Aiden, deserves so much love and the moment he and Shannon fall for each other, is pure magic.You see how needed the intimacy is, but I don’t mean necessary the sex, it’s just one part, I mean they have a connection, the term soul mate is truly fitting for them. ❤In general I love the charming character display; so many different people and all diverse in the unique characterisation Taylor Brooke is showing. The character’s behaviour is believable in the actions and you see the charming, lovable parts as well as their flaws. They are true, honest, they are broken, but all in all: they are human.And that’s entagled in a poetic writing, full of deeper meanings, spiked with analogies and metaphors (and so many other figures of speech, it would be interesting to go through the book and indicate them;)); pictures are build in the reader’s mind, sometimes it’s clear written, sometimes hid behind a complext phrasing, and it’s a true joy to decipher these parts. ❤I can’t wait to read the next book, Taylor Brooke already confirmed it’s about Daisy and Chelsea, so we get a F/F couple. :3 Also there are plans for further books (with poly-rep and ace/aro characters), and I hope they will be published (so, people, buy this :D). :3Review originally posted on my blog with added content Mikku-chan / A world full of words

  • Queerly Reads
    2019-01-01 05:38

    This review is also on our blog, Queerly Reads.This is a fanfiction-trope-turned-original fiction, where everyone has a clock that shows them the moment they meet their soulmate. When young, successful Southern California detective Shannon Wurther chases an art thief, his clock ticks down to zero in a darkened art gallery. Aiden Maar gets away, but he’ll come back for more eventually. And Shannon will give it to him.Fortitude Smashed is a swoony prose-treasure that comes as close to the cuddly fanfiction fluff of my adolescence as a piece of published literature could. Romance books sometimes suffer from what I will call insufficient cuddles – that is, the conflict so wholly consumes the novel that the soft moments happen only in between the drama and angst. Fortitude Smashed, by contrast, never gets distracted by conflict, and offers plenty of cozy, shared moments between characters.Fortitude Smashed is roughly 80% romance, 15% emotional drama, and 5% Shannon-is-a-cop thrills. And approximately 0% scifi, by the way - despite the way it's marketed, please go into this thinking fanfiction trope and not the hard science of soulmates and you won't be disappointed.The WritingI need to talk about its indulgent prose. Or maybe it’s best just to show examples. The dialogue is often used to contrast the poetic prose, keeping the book from delving too far into the saccharine."Aiden wanted to spread Shannon else on top of the covers and take his time, drink him in, memorize. Aiden wanted to know him carnally, viscerally, blindingly."How's your cat?" Shannon asked.Brooke’s characters are some of the few who have made me actually laugh out loud.“We’re here to find lightning bugs.”“That was the most Georgia thing you’ve ever said to me.”“My mama fries the best catfish in town.”“Never mind,” Aiden sighed.Shannon and Aiden may be each other’s soulmates – or Rose Roads, as they’re beautifully called in their world – but that doesn’t mean they immediately fall into each other’s laps and a world of romantic perfection.They’re developed, three-dimensional characters with relationship histories and parents and pasts, not to mention one of them is a cop and one of them is a criminal. They have a lot of stuff to work through before they can reach their happy ending. As they continually admit throughout the novel, their connection is more physical than emotional at first. It’s figuring out how to communicate with their words instead of their bodies that’s the hard part.Mental IllnessAiden is mentally ill. He suffers from dysthymia (chronic depression) and dissociation. I really like the way it was handled; he’s already diagnosed by the start of the novel, which is in itself unusual. There are plenty of books where a mentally ill character’s resolution is to see a therapist and bam, that’s fixed.In Fortitude Smashed, Aiden knows what’s wrong with him, but that doesn’t magically solve his problems. And the idea that he needs to “be fixed” is challenged altogether. Above all, what I liked most was that Shannon is in absolutely no way the cure to Aiden’s pain. Shannon struggles as the partner of a mentally ill person, and his support is helpful, but not the solution.On top of all that, Aiden’s mental illness doesn’t take up the forefront of the novel, either. A mentally ill person is not merely mentally ill. There are a hundred other aspects of life all occurring at the same time, and Brooke captures this perfectly.A Misogyny ProblemTwo things left a really bad taste in my mouth. I wanted to ignore them and not even write about them here because this book is such a treasure, but the first thing kept recurring to the point where I couldn’t overlook it, and the second just reinforces my concern over the first.Aiden and Shannon’s go-to insult for any woman is bitch. Like, I counted a total of ten times that they use this word to directly describe a woman. Aiden and Shannon are the romantic heroes of this book; they’re supposed to be likable (flawed but likable, of course). I, personally, do not know any likable men who would call women bitches."Tell her not to be an uppity bitch, and we'll get along just fine.""Shut up, bitch," Aiden snapped.I see the word “bitch” a lot online, when people want to take down smart women who dare to speak in public. So the fact that Shannon and Aiden’s bitch drops are often accompanied by adjectives like “uppity” and “stuck-up” left an extra, extra sour taste in my mouth, like wow, I would never give these men the time of day.Is this like a dialectical difference? The word was tossed around so casually that I felt like it means something to me that it doesn’t mean to the characters. Bitch is a gendered slur. Am I wrong?The text itself says I’m not."You're still a bitch. I'm still an asshole." -AidenThis suggests that the characters do intend it as a gendered slur, and I am not okay with that.Women characters also apologize to the men by describing themselves as bitch, and I’m sorry, literally what kind of woman would do that? Again, I’m still tempted to say this is just a dialectical thing, because people in my world do not talk like this.The second thing that points to the book’s women-problem: A female character, Daisy, faces attempted rape. There’s a trigger warning for this at the beginning of the book. Sexual assault, however, isn’t on my definitely-do-not-read-list. It entirely depends on how it’s handled in the story.Daisy’s attack was used to develop our male heroes. Aiden saves her from her attacker, and Shannon, who earlier in the night refused to pull out his gun while on duty when maybe he should have, pulls his gun out on the attacker without thinking. This is used to highlight Aiden’s innate goodness, because he saved his friend, and also to provide proof that Shannon loves Aiden, because he’s willing to kill a man for him. Through the characters’ own conversations, it’s made clear that Shannon reached that violent headspace out of his love for Aiden, not because of Daisy.Later, Aiden and Daisy join a martial arts class together to help Daisy get over the trauma of her attack. Aiden and Daisy mutually agree that “Daisy’s problem” is that she is “weak,” as in physically weak. Women don’t get assaulted because they don’t take enough martial arts classes, so again, the whole thing just really rubbed me the wrong way.This book gets a lot of points just for having developed women characters, which highlights the sad misogyny of the m/m genre and also fanfiction. However, this book could have easily stood on its own without one of those characters facing attempted assault. The character develop that occurs as a result of the “drama” could have happened in some other way. Having a woman assaulted when she isn’t the POV character of her own attack is just an absolute no for me.End ThoughtsFortitude Smash is the first book in a promising series. Yes, it has problematic areas that didn’t sit well with me, but it was a gorgeously written love story, and prose like Brooke’s needs to be read. A future book in the Camellia Clock series is going to be f/f, and I’m very curious to see how it unfolds.

  • E.M. Hamill
    2019-01-01 05:24

    **I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review**Oh, my, what can I say about this book other than I really, really liked it? I'm notoriously fickle about romance. It takes a twist to suck me in, and I will often abandon a book rather than finish it if I just can't believe in the couple. I had no such problem with Shannon and Aiden. Taylor Brooke has constructed a beautiful romance around a slightly futuristic take on the soulmate trope. It reminded me a little of Logan's Run (I'm dating myself, I know!). Babies are implanted at birth with a Camellia Clock under their thumbnail, and it counts down the time until they meet their fated match, based on scientific technology and pheromonal activity. Shannon is a police detective: young, driven, and a regular upstanding citizen. On the way home one night, he comes across a burglary in progress and starts to arrest Aiden--until both their Camellia Clocks hit 00:00 at the same time, signaling that they have met their "Rose Road"--their soulmate. What follows is a really gorgeous love story as the two get to know each other, learn to trust, and try to decide if fate truly meant for them to be together.Aiden. *sigh*. Found myself picturing a young Tom Hiddleston in this sexy, bad-boy role. Probably one of my favorite characters this year. Shannon is a nice guy, but almost too nice at times. I was so pissed off about Valentine's Day *no spoilers* that I wanted to kick his ass. But these two are so hot together without any major sex happening on page that I think spontaneous combustion would have been the result of anything more explicit.I found Shannon's ex, Chelsea, more annoying than a real threat. I almost would have rather foregone the whole arc with her, because she didn't really add anything for me but irritation. Aiden's best friend, Daisy, though, I found charming. I loved her on page.It's not your soft, fluffy romance, although there is real tenderness here. There are some heavy issues tackled by the author in an exceedingly skillful fashion: dysfunctional grief, depression, and assault among the most serious. For anyone looking for an edgy speculative romance (is there such a category? There should be!), this book is for you.

  • Haley
    2018-12-21 10:30

    Does everyone remember that Soulmate Clock meme that went around Tumblr for the longest time? The one where everyone had a countdown on their wrist to the time they would meet their exact soulmate–people contributed their own ideas for how this would play out, and people were desperate for a book about this.SOMEONE WROTE THE BOOK.I will be perfectly honest, when Taylor first messaged me about doing this review, I might have screamed. Even though I am not on Tumblr anymore, this thread was one of my faves.And she absolutely did the original thread justice. The love story was freaking sexy. It’s an opposites attract story–because of course, the Clock would bring a cop and robber together. Their original hate for each other turns into passion and it’s hot, hot, hot.It’s also sweet, and loving. There are a lot of references to mental illness–especially depression and anxiety. The author begins her book with the best formatted trigger warnings I have ever seen. It is non threatening, unimposing, and doesn’t spoil anything in the book. If a person needs the warning, they can read it, and there are chapter numbers to point out exactly where those triggers can be found. If the reader doesn’t want to know about them, it’s an easy page flip. (The triggers are mostly due to dissociative episodes and panic attacks, but there are references to abuse and assault in the book as well.) The author has advised on Twitter that this book is OwnVoices for both the mental health and assault themes in the book.As much as I loved the love story, I was concerned at first because there wasn’t anything else. The story read very flat and kind of fanfictionesque. There is no explanation of what the Camellia Clock and Rose Road are or how they came to be, no world building. There are secondary characters, but we get little development of their personalities or lives. The story starts with Shannon and Aiden’s clocks flashing 0:00, and it’s all them from that moment forward.The second half of the book does get more layered. We start to see the secondary characters come more into play, and things develop a lot more. That is where we see the mental illness become more nuanced, and the pair start circling outside of each other. We also get a little bit of information about the clocks, but I’d still like to see more about the names or how this came to be (Why the flower names? Were Camellia and Rose people? What is the “road” in Rose Road?”) I have a lot of questions that haven’t been answered yet. I think it’s being set up for more clocks to run out, as a series, and I am certainly interested to see where she takes this.Also, did I mention that there is Pansexual representation in this book? Because there is PANSEXUAL REPRESENTATION IN THIS BOOK. (Also Bisexual Rep too, but I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen Pansexual rep.Overall, I enjoyed the book. I think the writing got better as the book went on, but I was excited from this story from the very beginning. I’ll be following Taylor Brooke to see what is next! We do have two women with ticking clocks…

  • Cee Brown
    2018-12-23 07:32

    *´¨✫)I just really ¸.•´¸.•*´¨)✯ ¸.•*¨) could not get✮ (¸.•´✶(¸.•`¸.•*¨)¸.•´¸.•*´¨)✯ ¸.•*¨)enough!!5 stars, despite no actual sex scenes on page, but the descriptives made up for it. New to me author Taylor Brooks made me a believer. I am such a sucker for Sci-Fi.According to the Camellia Clock, Aiden Maar was his future.What would you do if fate decided your future? What would you do to give it all away?Fate was a wiley woman and unforgiving at times. In Fortitude Smashed, cop Shannon's soulmate clock ran out the moment he grabbed art thief and wanted man Aiden. How cruel, considering opposite should not attract in this instant. Fate didn't come for him, though. No, fate had sent a cop.My ending is better than my beginning. Oh. Heavens. Me. I am floored. The raves about Fortitude Smashed, are so much more than that. It is the beginning and the end. It is all the summers, springs and winters. It is death and rebirth. It is forgiving and forgiveness. It is life. I won't lie, I really, really wanted to read this story after catching a whiff of someone's comment. Then, foolish me, took a look at another one or two and I was almost, ALMOST sure that I would be put off. Thank heavens for my persistence in always going against the grain and making my own decisions. Had I not, I would have missed out on one of the best books I have read this year. Fortitude Smashed gave me life. It gave me a look at what it would be like to not have to think of soulmate and wondering when they would be met. Like all that is going on in the world, the Clock that scientist have invented in this story is not fully explained, but it gives enough to keep one captivated. I am so reading book two and hope it keeps me riveted!!I voluntarily and honestly reviewed this book without bias or persuasion from Netgalley.

  • Morningstar
    2019-01-16 05:33

    Book & Author: Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke Rating: 3 starsI struggled with this book. The author who has a very unique raw writing style created a story that at times was too slow and lead to me being bored, then freaking fantastic and beautiful which got me reading every word until I didn’t want to anymore, because of some super spoiler parts that annoyed and aggravated me. In the beginning, I was reading and trying to get myself acquainted with this author's style of telling a story, her voice made it somewhat difficult to understand in the beginning but I caught on. But that didn’t help when it came to the world building, the understanding of the Camellia Clock that all people have. Maybe it’s the lover of paranormal and sci-fi stories in me that needed a bit more than I got. If she gave us even a quarter of what she gave us in building the relationship between Aidan and Shannon I’d would've been happy. In the end, the parts that threw me from the story and the intermittent boring parts ruined what otherwise would've been a terrific and unique story. I loved, loved, loved the build up between our two main characters. The tentative touches, the slow sweet kisses, the learning and exploration that went along with their romance was what kept me there. I connected with Aidan so much since he had so much to deal with from his disassociated dysthymia. I may not have enjoyed this story but I will be looking forward to their next one and how their writing will grow. *I received a copy of this book through*

  • Bernadett
    2019-01-17 07:31

    i got my copy from netgalleyI just loved it. I couldnt put it down and never even skipped a line. the characters are well thought out and slowly developing, just as their relationships. I loved how imperfect they were. Aiden a scrawny ashy blond haired guy with a phoenix tattoo on his side and Shannon the detective with a good nose but hiding his thick countryboy accent. I loved how Aiden complimented Shannons shortcomings and how Shannon was there for Aiden in an invasive way, even though the younger guy chanted to himself that he was a mess until he believed it to himself. I loved the side characters who were coming alive and not just puppets to make the mc's cooler or better looking. It was hilarious at times and intense at others. its a really well made book which is even safe for younger audiences. I gave it 5/5 stars because I already boosted about it that this book is like my grandmas hotpot; the taste grows together to be delicious till the end and its good even if you reheat it (in this case re-read it) I love the romance and I love the way Shannon's parents react to Aiden. it is the best way ever to react to their childs significant other. I have just one problem with it.... at the back there was a thing saying "book one" if this is book one WHERES THE REST OF IT?!