Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new alternate reality M/M romance from Taylor Brooke. FORTITUDE SMASHED is an odd-couple police romance that addresses attraction and pairing, in a fated-mates kinda world.
Drop down to read an author interview and get in on the $25 GC giveaway, too!
About the book:
After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.
But loving someone isn’t.
When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.
How about a little taste?
Shannon’s first instinct was to call for backup. It’s what he should’ve done.
Instead, he slid his hand around the door and pulled it open; his other hand rested on his holstered gun.
The scent of oil paint and clay wafted strong in the stillness. The room was too open, a wide space with nowhere to hide. Shannon took a step, another, and glanced at the desk, where abstract patterns swirled on the screen of a hibernating computer next to a dimmed, decorative lamp.
Movement. Footsteps, heel to toe, slow and quiet, behind him.
Shannon swung around. Someone—the thief—gasped. He grabbed the fabric of a shirt and shoved whoever was wearing it against the wall.
“You’re under arrest,” he growled. The body, a man, squirmed and cursed. The one time he didn’t play it safe and call for backup was the time he might need it. Shannon forced the thief’s hands against the wall. “Spread your fingers.”
The thief complied. “Of fucking course.” Shannon heard him rolling his eyes.
“Breaking and entering is a crime, you understand that? So is taking things that aren’t yours.”
“I didn’t take anything. I didn’t get the chance to.” Whoever he was, he was unapologetically bored with the situation. Shannon spotted a bold tattoo on his side where his shirt was bunched up from their abrupt collision. The man sighed. “Can I have my hands back now?”
“No, you can’t, because—”
Shannon’s entire being screeched to a stop. His spine straightened; his knees locked. He couldn’t breathe. Beneath his glove, warmth spread from his right thumb into his wrist. The Camellia Clock vibrated, gentle but convincing, a purr that alerted him to the 00:00 that now read in glowing numbers under his thumbnail. Saliva pooled in his mouth. Heat coursed through him. Blood rushed—high speed traffic in his veins. His heartbeat, steady and then not, pounded in his ears.
He stared at the hand spread out on the wall. On the thief’s right thumbnail, the same numbers glowed 00:00. Shannon squeezed the man’s wrist a little tighter.
A shaky breath quivered from the chest in front of him. Apparently, Shannon wasn’t the only one surprised.
He swallowed, and his grip tightened again before he let go and ripped his hands away. Eyeing Shannon carefully, the burglar spun. He had a straight nose and a sharp jaw; he was all angles and edges and pale skin. His skittishness reminded Shannon of a deer—maybe not a deer. The stranger’s lips twitched into a straight-toothed grin under hooded dark eyes. Yeah, maybe not a deer. Maybe a wolf.
A breathless chuckle trickled past a clever smile. The thief gave a slow shake of his head, disbelief and curiosity stitching a genuine expression across his face that Shannon hated. “Aiden Maar,” he said, too confidently to be taken lightly.
Shannon’s jaw was set so tight it ached to open his mouth. “Detective Wurther.”
“Pleasure’s all mine, Detective.” The rasp in his voice made Shannon’s stomach jump.
Before Shannon could yell, or grab, or get another word in, the thief—Aiden—was gone, darting past him and out the door. His head swam. Still reeling, he couldn’t have caught Aiden if his life depended on it. But he was going to have to, because, according to the Camellia Clock, Aiden Maar was his future.
According to Shannon Wurther, the Camellia Clock was wrong.
And, author Taylor Brooke has put together a playlist and rationale to share…
I always listen to certain music when I’m writing. I make playlists, put songs on repeat, take breaks and listen to the lyrics of certain songs that inspired specific scenes to see if I can pinpoint why. Lots of different things come into play when I’m putting a story together, but music tends to be the most important. It helps set the mood and direct the pacing. When I was writing Fortitude Smashed I listened to a lot of The 1975, but this is the official playlist:
Arctic Monkeys – I Wanna Be Yours
The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer
Coasts – Oceans
Taken By Trees – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Armin Van Burren ft. Olaf Blackwood – I Need You
30 Seconds to Mars – Stay
St Lucia – All Eyes On You
The Ready Set x Michael Brun – Good Enough
The 1975 – Settle Down
Axwell ft. Kid Ink – I Love You
Troye Sivan – Wild
Andy Grammer – Fresh Eyes (Grey Remix)
The 1975 – The Sound
A Day to Remember – Have Faith in Me
Blackbear – Girls Like You (Tarro Remix)
Blink 182 – What’s My Age Again?
Anna of the North – Us (Acoustic)
Joshua Radin – Winter
Troye Sivan – Youth (Griffin Remix)
30 Seconds to Mars – Alibi
Sometimes music is about the melody and sometimes it’s about the lyrics. Most of the music I chose for the Fortitude Smashed playlist is a mix of both. But which lyrics would fit best to the main characters?
I like to think Shannon listens to all sorts of different music, but if he were to be attached to any of the songs on the playlist, it would be “Have Faith in Me” by A Day To Remember.
I’m going crazy
‘Cause there are things in the streets I don’t believe
So we’ll pretend it’s alright and stay in for the night
What a world
I’ll keep you safe here with me
I said I’d never let you go, and I never did
I said I’d never let you fall and I always meant it
If you didn’t have this chance then I never did
You’ll always find me right there, again
Shannon is constantly struggling with accepting himself and rationalizing his feelings. Since this song is about acceptance, about not letting go and holding on, it sits true with who he is as a character.
Aiden listens to everything, too. He’ll never admit it, but he does. If there was a song that really described him, one that brought his truth to the surface, it would be “Alibi” by 30 Seconds to Mars.
No warning sign, no alibi
We’re fading faster than the speed of light.
Took our change, crashed and burned.
No we’ll never ever learn.
So here we are, the witching hour,
The quickest time to divide and devour.
Divide and devour.
If I could end the quest for fire,
For truth, for love, and my desire
For my desire
And I fell apart, but got back up again.
Aiden’s struggle is with himself. He deals with mental illness, grief, self-worth and loneliness. These lyrics are about giving in and getting up after, the daily, weekly, monthly cycle that someone goes through when they’re trying to find the light again. The most substantial line being “I fell apart, but got back up again,” could be a perfect descriptor for Fortitude Smashed.
This is an alternate reality view of our world, where people are chipped at birth with a count-down clock that times out when you meet your true mate, the so-called Rose Road. People tend to fall, and fall hard, in love with whomever they simultaneously time-out with, male female or group.
Aiden Maar is twenty-two and dealing with the grief of his parents’ death six years before. He was an adopted child, and he’s emotionally unstable but loved dearly by his older adoptive brother, Marcus. Despite the unconditional love he’s experienced, Aiden doesn’t dare hope that he’ll meet his Rose Road, or that it will work out they way he’s seen for others, into a consuming love. Aiden has lashed out for years, most recently as a high-level art and jewelry thief. He moves up and down the West Coast, but the police have been coordinating and his days of freedom might soon come to an end…at the hands of Detective Shannon Wurther. Shame that’s the exact moment his Camellia Clock times out.
Shannon is the youngest person to make detective in California in history. At 25, he’s hard at work, but he’s also curious about the status of his Rose Road. Will he find a business professional? A teacher? How does the Camellia Clock just know they will be suited? What if they aren’t? Worse, what if they are and then his Rose Road goes and dies, like what happened to his partner, and then he’s a shattered mess for the rest of his life. Though he’s been watching his clock tick down for years, he’s not prepared in the slightest when his clock times out just as he’s about to arrest a notorious art thief, Aiden Marr.
The rest of the book is the slow, but steady, recognition of attraction, lust and love that flows between Aiden and Shannon. It’s a seven-month dance between frustration, awareness and whole-hearted acceptance. They wonder if they can just walk away from one another, but they continue to be drawn to each other, and each time the gravity between them becomes heavier until it’s a presence they can’t deny. It’s slow and intimate, though it’s not too steamy. There’s a lot of thought and consideration, and polling of friends and family. There are complications, because a cop and a criminal aren’t supposed to fall in love, and Shannon has to accept Aiden as he is, if he’s going to trust in the Camellia Clock system. And, he doesn’t want to. Doesn’t it feel like a mistake? What sort of cosmic joke is he experiencing? But the more time he spends with Aiden, the more he peels away Aiden’s defenses. And, the mroe he recognizes that fate isn’t a quirk, or a mistake.
It’s the same for Aiden, who feels as if Shannon’s keen insight truly penetrates his grief, and his depressive dysthmia. He may not like Aiden’s past, or illegal actions, but he accepts Aiden is “it” for him, and his brand of attention is both flattering and romantic. Shannon is a man that Aiden can trust, with his heart and life, and a man Aiden is willing to be vulnerable for. I loved how this realization took time and consideration. Their lives blend in unexpected ways, and I kept waiting for a big crisis, but that doesn’t come. It seems that once they’ve fallen, they get to keep building on their love. It was sweet and tender. No cliffhangers or big conflicts to be found, once you get past their initial forays into connecting. I liked that, too.
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win a $25 GC to Interlude Press or one of five copies of FORTITUDE SMASHED.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals. Fortitude Smashed was published by Interlude Press on September 21.