Source: e-ARC provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Ashat is a werewolf who’s lived three centuries in sorrow and torment after his family was killed by an enemy-Baku. The only way he is able to bear his long life is drinking himself into a drunken stupor, women and hunting down Baku. His world suddenly changes when he meets Merilee and he is finally able to love and be happy again.
Merilee lost her family in a fire when she was five. However she isn’t too sure about that, her nightmares show her something very different to what her shrink has been telling her for thirteen years. She was raised by her two adoptive sisters Ann and Maria in an orphanage. She has a fear of letting people in and losing them. This fear makes her put up with an obnoxious boyfriend Steve until she’s finally gets the courage to get rid of him.
She finally meets a man who she instantly has a crush on and ultimately falls in love with after their first night together.
But Merilee and Ashat have met before in the worst of situations.
Have you ever been reading a book and got to a certain point where you're just like, "I should really give up on this. There is no way this is going to end well for me"? You consciously think that adding it to your DNF pile is in the best interest of everybody? I had that thought while reading this book.
I should have listened.
Fate Reborn has an AMAZING premise. It's a shifter story and it seemed like it'd have to do with soulmates, and both of those aspects led me to believe that this book would be right up my alley. It SHOULD HAVE BEEN. I think that's the big kicker here. If the story were anything like the synopsis indicates, I should be dying with love for this story.
But nope. Nope. NOPE. Not at all.
Now let me explain WHY. (That'd probably be helpful, right?)
The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is the romance. I love romance! If I'm swooning, I'm probably enjoying the book at least a little. Plus, there seemed like there'd be a soulmate idea. But the romance in this book... it was abusive. I don't make that claim lightly, but it's true. This is especially true for the first half of the book. At one point, Ash is LITERALLY dragging Merilee to the car to get her away from another guy who was talking to her--and she's like crying because it hurts. Excuse me, but that is NOT OKAY. I don't care how much they "love" each other. Or how "scarring" Ash's past is. That is abusive.
Then there's the fact that she has all kinds of bruises after their first night together. (Um, if you're thinking of a certain vampire book where this happens right now, then let me tell you that THAT book was in my mind for pretty much this entire book.) And there's the fact that he was downright mean to her for a while. There was little to nothing that was redeeming about Ash at first. I admit, he got a little sweeter around the second half. But it wasn't enough to make me happy or swoon or erase the memory of his abusiveness. Also, their relationship was still extremely unhealthy.
As a whole, the romance was not good. At all. It was unhealthy and made me so, so angry.
And that soulmate idea I thought there would be? NOPE. There's kind of insta-love, but it's not the kind that works. Largely because of the way their relationship was.
But moving on from the romance (because I swear I could rant about that all day--just ask Val), let's talk about the characters. The female MC is Merilee. She was weak. And annoying. And if she had any character arc at all, I did not see it. She went from one sucky boyfriend to another--only the second got better (kind of, maybe, not really) at hiding it. I know she is going through some crazy, traumatic stuff in this book, but that does not give her a free pass here. I did not like her.
I'm sure you can guess how I feel about Ash. He's an a-hole. Sure, he has muscles. But aside from that, he's just as weak (likely even weaker) as Merilee. He relies on alcohol heavily to deal with life. Until Merilee, of course. Except...kind of not. Because at one point, when Merilee is in critical condition, Ash doesn't do the reliable significant other thing and stay by her side, waiting for her to wake up. No, he drinks himself into a stupor. Over and over. When Merilee wakes up, he's passed out with a wicked hangover. Great way for a girl to wake up from a head injury, eh? Not to the guy she loves--but instead to the news that he's passed out drunk in the other room. (This is another problem with the romance, by the way. Merilee's response to Ash's actions at that point was to be astounded by how much he loves her. UM. NO.) Then there's the fact that Ash was so brutal to Merilee in the beginning. I didn't even like him a little.
I know most of my Ash gripes are about things having to do with Merilee--but that's how it is in this story. It's ALL about Merilee, with little reminders of how Ash's past was terrible.
But since I could also rant about these characters all day, let's move on to writing and plot. The writing was kind of simplistic. Which can be fine, except sometimes I laughed when I knew I wasn't supposed to even be smiling. And the plot... I don't even know. What was the point? Because I know there was an evil entity mentioned, but that didn't actually play much a part in this book except to set the characters up to meet. The real offense ends up coming from Ash's jealous ex-girlfriend (or whatever you want to call her). Maybe the evil one will come into play later in the series? He was pointless in this book, though.
And then there's another huge thing that bothered me about this book. It's about shifters, right? People who shapeshift into wolves. It's what they do. But...there wasn't really much SHIFTING in this book. I don't even need all the fingers on one hand to count the number of times shifting was used. And not only that, but the shifters in this book didn't have loads of qualities befitting of a shifter. And I know that the aspects can change from author to author, series to series. But the shifters in this book reminded me a lot of another paranormal creature (remember that book that was in my mind earlier? Like THAT creature--which is another reason that book was in my head while reading this book). Since I'm such a huge fan of shifters, I was hoping for more shifter representation. I didn't get that. Much, if at all. Disappointing.
Lastly, there was one huge plot point. HUGE. And it is so, so obvious. Honestly, I guessed it the night after the plot point became possible (if you know what I mean. And I promise, this isn't a spoiler because...). It was OBVIOUS. It still is obvious. And yeah, I say still is because it hasn't been revealed yet. It's probably going to be a big OMG moment in the next book--except it won't be because it's so transparent. I thought it'd be revealed at the end of the book. That would have been understandable. End the book with the big reveal. It was obvious before even then, but I would have been okay with the book ending on that note because it'd have MADE SENSE. Instead, it's still a "secret" and the characters are all so oblivious, I have to admit it's kind of pathetic. Ugh.
As I've said, I could rant about all of this all day. But I think this review is long enough and I have (or at least I hope I have) outlined why this story is just not good in my eyes. I had my hopes high and honestly went into this book with the expectation to fall in love. Instead, I am so disappointed and kind of angry. SIGH. I think it goes without saying that I will not be continuing the series. One book was enough for me.