The Trouble With Fate - Leigh Evans
3 Stars. Good with some solid point and I enjoyed the story overall but there’s something holding it back from a higher rating.

PROS

-Liked the world and the world building
-Heidi is interesting and compelling as is Merry
-Not transphobic. There’s a trans character that is treated by the bad guys like shit but Heidi is a decent human being about it. I love this inclusion, this character. Seriously, if Heidi was an asshole about this I would have easily said “Fuck you Heidi, I’m done.”
-Didn’t go the way I thought it would at the end and I liked the mini-reveals of the mystery all along the way
- Standard were and fae except for the Asrai and Mystwalker aspects, which I really liked and want to explore
-NO love triangle!


Cons

-Some moments pinged high on the improbable meter that bugged me
-Some frustratingly stupid actions/decisions
Insta-love justified by soul mates so the whole “I’ll save you!” “No, I’ll save YOU!” sacrifice is there when the relationship is SO new.
-Wanted more of the mystwalker side of things
-It was hard to get into at first, felt very disjointed and chopped full of information dumps but I got into the flow quick enough after the several chapters

Heidi’s family motto was Strongholds hold. After her family was eliminated, she doesn’t have time for mottos because surviving is the name of the game. With a sick and dying aunt to support, little education, and a false identity to protect, life is tough. It’s about to get a whole lot worse when her childhood crush walks into her workplace - dragging her into something she’s been trying to avoid since she was 10.

First delving into the book was a bumpy ride navigating the information dumps, the flashbacks and then being jerked back inside Heidi’s present head. I think having a prologue that goes into Heidi’s daily life before everything goes to shit would have been really helpful for several reasons, particularly the jumping off point. Instead of the three paragraph backstory that gets repeated in the first chapters anyways. When we first meet Heidi she’s having a rough, sleep deprived, work day which just gets more discombobulated when Robson walks into her Starbucks. So yeah, it makes sense Heidi is off her game, spacing out and flipping out but that’s not really a great first impression or introduction. After a couple chapters though it levels out and we get to just get to know Heidi and her now really fucked up life.

Balance. It keeps coming back to balance. The magic is balanced - as a fae can’t be super badass doing amazing things without facing the consequences. Fae can’t lie but tell only part of story or need a magic spell. Weres are stronger and heal fast but not immoral, can’t swim and silver is deadly. They can’t transform at will, at least, not now in this world. Humans, well, humans are just weak. Not much known about mystwalkers but they have some clear cut advantages and weakness. The transitions between worlds are deadly. Though I can’t say what drawback Merenwyn has, since it’s basically described as paradise. Threall has clear cut “oh, shit” things about it.

The world is balanced but it’s the flow of the story that doesn’t mesh well. Like Heidi going to Threal but nothing there is followed up on and that thread is left hanging. After all the shit goes down, it feels like the story is suppose to ramp up, move on to handling it, but instead it slows to deal with romance. Then it starts up again. Then there’s the stupid decisions that seem to fly in the face of how down to earth real the characters were.

The main reason for the knock down in stars are the Bullshit! moments. Like walking into a public place with a gun in hand with no one batting an eye until the gun is raised. Or like no one calling the cops after all the ruckus going on in the apartment. Or like worrying being caught on tape being supernatural and then doing impressive shit anyways. Or like the sleeping make-out almost dry humping session. I mean okay, so Heidi did the gun thing for a reason but it was still incredibly stupid. It still didn’t make sense that no one noticed the gun at first either. Then they sit and wait for at least half an hour outside the club and no cops come. Someone was shot, for fucks sake and no one called the cops? Pfffffffffffffft. Pah-lease. Bullshit contamination = Level 1: Get your boots because there’s a leak.

Characters
Heidi is self-deprecating, which I much prefer to egomaniac and adds some flavorful humor; has self-esteem issues (who doesn’t have these?), sarcastic, snarky and snide at times which I enjoyed.I loved her voice and her attitude. She does care and try to take care of those around her. She knows the difference between right and wrong but hey, you do what you gotta do when the tough gets going. I liked Heidi. She’s got actual flaws that make sense. She’s a thief for one. Not only for survival but also for the rush. She’s also a liar but she has to be, again, to survive. She has to stay low key and never let anyone find out the truth about her past. She also does the lying and denying to herself that we all do, involuntarily. Oh, come on, who hasn’t had those reflection moments where we say to ourselves “Really, I didn’t notice this? Really self? You suck.”?

She struggles not only with the warring magic insider herself but also who she is as Heidi. Just Heidi, who she is as the human person at the end of the day. This struggle felt very real and organic. The psychology of Heidi makes so much sense to me and seems so authentic. I may not have liked every aspect of her or every decision but being inside her head worked and was done well. Now, if you don’t like Heidi it may be a bumpy ride but with her past I get why she is the way she is.

The impulse control is part of her that I struggled with a lot since I’m the exact opposite. Like completely - I think, plan and worry so much about things sometimes stuff just doesn’t get done. She does have some good ideas when she thinks things through but man did we clash on some actions. Because of my disagreement with her style, at these moments of impulse she comes off stupid to me.

Merry the Arasai in the amulet was an interesting character. The personality and communication that came from Merry was great. It was just changing colors and movements with her gold vines but it really works. I had a problem properly visualizing it in the beginning where I had to keep looking at the cover to get the base image and alter from there. However, again, after adjust I got used to it. I think it was just never having read about such a thing before that threw me. I loved the idea and I think it was well executed so the problem was just my mental gymnastics.

Robson Towbridge, aka Bridge, is....the fallen golden boy turned black sheep, the condescending jerk who’s really a great guy if you just put the work in, the much needed reality check for Heidi, the over protective overbearing stubborn demanding alpha male so common in were-love stories. I didn’t hate him, and I did understand him, but I’m not loving him as a love interest. I just wasn’t moved by his switch from “you’re such a stupid little kid who creeped me out when you followed me around like a puppy” to “I love you. I’ll protect you no matter what and risk everything for you”.

Aunt Lou is described as loopy in the blurb (which I think gives the wrong impression) and crazy throughout the book by Heidi. This is one of those things where I didn’t like Heidi. Aunt Lou is only loosing her mind and the grip on reality because she is sick and dying. The fae version of Alzheimer’s disease and I just think Heidi is a jerk for calling her crazy. She wasn’t crazy or loopy before the illness, though by no means was she a nice person. She’s got a thing against weres and is homesick. She’s old with her power fading and her mind slipping after taking care of a child that’s part were (which reminds her of all the terrible things they’ve done to her family) and part-fae (which is giving her powers greater than Aunt Lou’s current capabilities). I don’t like her but I understand her. Saying she’s “crazy like a fox” would be different but no one seems to recognize how strong, independant and crafty she was.

The Love
I get why Heidi is in love with Bridge and why she falls for him now. I do not get Bridge’s feelings for her. There were a switch between him being condescending and insulting to her for being a kid, to finding her stupid, stubborn and thinking she was creepy as a child for spying on him. Then his were-instincts kick in and he’s all head over heels in love. The justification is the whole soul mates/fate but man, does that seem really weak when put after all the drama. At this point, I’m thinking the problem with fate is that fate is just stupid. It may yet grow on me but right now the love = meh.

Sure, there were interactions and moments I liked. There were even some things specifically tied to the romance aspect and the twist this causes at the end is great but it really felt lackluster throughout the story in general. I don’t really care or feel their connection or love. Robson/Bridge is actually the main source of Heidi’s stupidity. I really wish we could’ve seen her before this all goes down, when she was handling things and supporting her and Aunt Lou. I think that balance of what was and what is going on now is missing. As it is in The Trouble with Fate Heidi comes off like a drooling-no-self-control-moron at times to me, which I wasn’t fond of considering how independent and stand up she’s been.

The Sex Scene - In other reviews there’s mention of a specific scene where Heidi is losing her virginity. I’m actually surprised to see so many not liking this scene. It’s a first time that doesn’t fit the mold in books of perfectly perfect amazing fun time. I liked it. Not in the “I wish this would happen to me” or anything but because it felt real. Losing one’s virginity is a big thing usually. Her thoughts and struggle about what she was doing, why and wondering about what’s in his head is particularly compelling to me. It was a touching/poignant moment after things went supernaturally bad. It’s a unique twist, I must admit. It’s definitely a personal intimate moment and it really showed who Heidi is. We’re inside Heidi’s head so it only makes sense. If this moment wasn’t included or discussed I think it’d be hard (or harder) to connect/get/mesh with Heidi. Of course, if you already don’t like or don’t care about Heidi (especially this far into the book) it might be hard to read.

The specifics behind just want happened makes me worried a bit about the implications but I’ll hold off on judgement til the next book. I could see it going either way.