Reviews for Already Published Books

REVIEW: Fortitude Smashed by Taylor Brooke


34669350Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: September 21, 2017
Received From: NetGalley

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.


GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: bisexual, pansexual


TROPES: soulmates, cop + criminal, virgin character, enemies to lovers, slow burn romance
TAGS: new adult, contemporary, science fiction, bisexual character, pansexual character, mentally ill character, queer characters, queer romance, queer author, POC character, Latinx character, black character, Chinese character, Asian character, sibling relationship, ownvoices
WARNINGS: mental illness (dysthymia, depression, anxiety, dissociation, panic attacks, PTSD), suicidal ideation, sexual assault / attempted rape, violence, ableism, slurs, gendered slurs, amisia


“Danger, danger, another wild one born to eat the heart of the world.”

Initially, I requested this book because several of my friends were gushing about it on twitter, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I was also curious about the book in general, because soulmate books can often be either really bad (exclusionary of aro, ace, and polyam people) or really good. This one falls under the “really good” category! There was one brief amisic comment (talking about sex isn’t uncomfortable for Shannon because he’s an ~adult~), but it’s otherwise very inclusive, and there’s even a part that specifically mentions that the clocks include polyam people! (I’ve got fingers crossed one of the sequels will go that route.) Otherwise, this book is all around amazing in so many different ways.

I absolutely loved that Shannon and Aiden did not immediately fall in love just because they’re soulmates. It’s an unfortunate trend in these kinds of stories where the main characters fall into instalove, despite not knowing anything about each other, so I’m really glad Brooke didn’t fall into that trap. In fact, the two are downright antagonistic towards each other in the beginning, until they start letting themselves accept that this is happening and start getting to know each other. They’re still antagonistic once that happens, but it slowly becomes more affectionate than with any intent to harm.

Related, I love that Shannon and Aiden talk about things. They are awful at communicating with each other–and they both know that–but once they decide they’re all in, they don’t let the other get away with not talking about things unless they know it’s something they shouldn’t poke at. They fight a lot when one or both of them are trying to hide, or not talk about, something, but they eventually make it through the initial anger and frustration and talk it out. Communication, even reluctant conversations, is so lacking in romance novels that it was a painful breath of fresh air to watch the two of them struggle to open up to the other.

Also, I really loved all the scenes and the moments when they’re in bed together, because both Shannon and Aiden are so tactile. They’re always touching each other, but it’s not always in a sexual way, and I think that Brooke did an amazing job at showing that you can express affection and be intimate without having sex. It worked really well for Shannon and Aiden and their personalities, and it was refreshing to see this side of intimacy come before sex and be prioritized. I hope to see more of that in Brooke’s future books.

One aspect I really related with was Aiden’s mental illnesses and the various ways they manifest in his life. Brooke did a perfect job of showing the highs, the lows, the in betweens, and the really low lows that come with depression and anxiety. There’s a few scenes where Aiden has dissociative episodes, and it was heartbreaking to witness, just in general, but also because it was so relatable. The first one, where he’s in bed and can’t make himself get up and he can’t even talk, hit me really hard because I have those days and I know how hard it can be to drag yourself out of them.

Also, every single one of the characters within the novel were amazing. Each and every one has their own personality and motivations, and it is impossible to forget any of them exist. It’s impossible not to fall in love with all of them. Of course, I adored both Aiden and Shannon, but I also fell in love with Marcus, Aiden’s supportive and loving older brother; Karman, Shannon’s work partner who lives for her daughter and had her heart broken so badly that she’s never gotten over it and lets it affect every aspect of her life; Daisy, Aiden’s best friend who’s making a name for herself and refuses to let being assaulted take over her life; and Chelsea, Shannon’s ex-girlfriend who was determined they would be together but finally comes around to the fact that it will never be and is trying to find a new path for herself before her clock runs out. All of them are incredible, and I cannot wait to see more of them in the future.

And speaking of Chelsea, that brings me to one thing I wanted to point out to anyone who reads reviews before checking out the book is aware. Shannon is bisexual, and that is discussed on page, though the term is not explicitly used. Aiden is pansexual and that’s not explicitly stated or talked about, but the author has stated as much on her twitter.

Overall, this book and the rep therein is fantastic and I would recommend it to all, especially those who would like to see depression accurately portrayed.





Taylor Brooke is a traveling story-teller, believer in magic, and a science fiction junkie.

Probably a tea snob. Definitely a beer snob. Bisexual, but pansexual, but bisexual – one of the two. Can have lengthy, in-depth conversations about an atomic lizard and his radioactive moth friend. Yearns for a life in the city, but dreams of founding an animal sanctuary. Future tiny house owner. Future tiny library owner, because her book collection won’t fit in one tiny house.

Proudly writes inclusive Queer novels for teens and adults.


Interlude Press
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository



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