Reader Review: Soulmated & Fighting Fate – Shaila Patel

I was emailed by author Shaila Patel asking if I would like to complete a review for her books ‘Soulmated’ and ‘Fighting Fate’. Needless to say, I was intrigued by the summaries that she provided, and I felt that the plot held a lot of promise and had a need to be explored further. I’m not a big fan of romance in itself, but the words ‘YA paranormal romance’ caught my attention pretty easily and made me want to experience the story for myself.

Soulmated: ★★★★

Soulmated introduces the story of Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath who has been spending the past few years of his life searching for his empath soulmate. He finds himself in the path of Laxshmi Kapadia – an American Indian high school student who’s battling between her mothers wants for her to become a doctor or abide to an arranged marriage. Liam and Laxshmi are instantly drawn to one another and Liam is certain that she’s the girl that he’s been searching for. The only problem? Laxshmi isn’t an empath and both of their parents seem to have other ideas of their destinies. The question is; will Liam and Laxshmi fight to be the makers of their own fate?

From the first chapter, the premise is made evident and is introduced to the audience base fairly frankly. This means that the reader’s attention is grabbed from the get-go and it generally makes the concept of the book a lot more interesting because the audience doesn’t feel like they have to wait around to find out what is actually happening. There’s evidently that sense of mystery and want for the story to be developed to a further extent, but the reader knows that there’s something special there and so, in turn, they want to drawn into the story more as well. It feels like it’s been deeply constructed from the very beginning and it’s unlike any other story that the reader may’ve previously come across, so it’s obviously going to catch their eye. Likewise, the story doesn’t actually take long to start and roll with the punches, as it were. The characters are introduced quickly and the tone of the book is well-established from the beginning so, if the reader finds themselves drawn in, they’re going to be captivated for the rest of the novel as well. The structure of the book is well-developed from the introduction of the story as well, which means that the readers are soon comfortably able to get a feel for how the narrative of the story is going to progress and how the different storylines and perspectives are going to be showcased. Generally, I really liked how the structure was set out as it allowed you to get an insight into the different characters themselves and it also enables the audience to see how the various members of the novel interact with each other and the plot directly. 

Moving onto the characters as a focus point themselves, I definitely think that Liam, as one of the protagonists, has a very strong, evident personality and monologue that can be picked up on from the very start. He has a bold sense of self and knows his own place in the plot, as it were, and the audience is able to pick up on this easily. This makes his character feel all the more developed and three dimensional as well, which is appealing to readers alike. Another thing that I liked about the characters is the character diversity itself, and this links back to the fact that I enjoyed the structure that the novel is set in. I think the comparison between the main characters is interesting and there’s a distinct dynamic that is created through their varying narratives. The different character tones allow you to get to know the characters on a more individual basis, which makes them all the more interesting and makes the story feel more realistic. Throughout the book, the characterisation is well-constructed and the reader can easily get a feel for the characters and how they’re feeling. Along with this, the dialect is also well-showcased, and so that makes the characterisation of Liam all the more distinctive. 

The book is descriptive throughout, so it doesn’t lack imagery and doesn’t fail to create an immersive world for the readers to really divulge themselves in. This makes the experience all the more interesting and a hell of a lot more fun, because you’re actually able to come close to experiencing what the characters are feeling for yourself. You’re not left there wondering why they’re acting in a certain manner and, likewise, because of the emotive depth that’s created, the characters feel even more lifelike. It easily maintains the audience’s attention as it flows at a steady pace which doesn’t get all too fast. Saying that, I did personally feel as if there were some elements of the book that sped along at a pace that I felt wasn’t all that realistic. More so, this was revolved around the romance element of the book. I just felt as if it happened very suddenly – the characters meet, and then they’re already being dramatic and claiming their love for each other. At points, it became tiring to read of how ‘overplayed’ the characters seemed to be when it came to being infatuated with each other. Though, this is definitely also due to my lack of experience with the romance genre and, in the sense of the concept of the narrative and the whole idea of the story, there’s an evident explanation for why things do move so quick. The novel does a good job of showcasing the fact that the author evidently has talent – the way she writes suits the narrative itself, and, in turn, she seems to have found the genre and tone that she is familiar and comfortable with. Her enthusiasm can be felt just through reading the book, which makes it all the more of a joy to get the pleasure to be asked to review it. 

As I said, I’m not all that experienced in the romance genre. Sure, I read it, and sometimes I love young adult romance for what it is, but I’m still not all that comfortable with a lot of the overused tropes and cliches that are ever-present throughout the category itself. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book did move away from that in the sense that it was able to create and maintain realistic characters that were easily understood by the audience and, I’m sure, many readers will be able to relate to them in one form or another. 
 
There were a few elements of the book that I still had an issue with, however, which is pretty much a given for any book. Even though I think the book does well to achieve focus on the characters rather than solely revolving around the cliches of the genre, there are some used tropes that I don’t like. There were small elements to the characters – such as Lucky writing poems – that, to me, felt like cheesy additions that didn’t really add to the story all that much. Though, saying this, I definitely see how that element links into the larger narrative of the story as it progresses. It’s more so of a personal opinion than an issue with the book itself. Likewise, some scenes and plot points seemed very cheesy to me, but, yet again, this is enhanced by the fact that I’m not all that well versed with the romance genre, nor am I the biggest fan of it. I don’t have that kind of experience in real life, so I can’t relate to some of the feelings that the characters have and are acting upon, though, again, that’s personal. Some aspects of the story are somewhat predictable simply due to the cliches that make an appearance, but the book still easily maintains the audience’s interest and it’s general appeal because the plot continuously keeps moving and the dialogue – both between characters and internally through the monologues – allows the scenes to flow easily. 

With the end of the book drawing closer, the action seems to intensify, which showcases that there’s more to be explored in the storyline itself. This is good because it allows the reader’s anticipation to grow – they’re going to want to explore the story and the characters even more, so they’re likely going to return to the series when it’s continued further down the line. 

To put it simply; the author evidently showcases her talent through this introduction to the series. Not only is the concept and premise well-thought out and developed in-depth, she wonderfully creates characters who actually feel like people. The story is engaging, continuously interesting, and, despite there people some cheesy cliches and rather embarrassing snippets of dialogue, it engages the reader throughout its duration. The representation of minority characters throughout the book (and the series itself) is also wonderfully done and, as an audience, you feel involved in the emotions and lives of the characters on the pages in front of you. 

Fighting Fate: ★★★

Fighting Fate finds Liam determined to protect his soulmate ‘Lucky’ at all costs, which leads to the event of him breaking up with her for her own safety. Heartbroken and aimless, Lucky finds herself falling into the hold of her mom’s mysterious new boss, who seems to have all the answers for her predicament. Lucky’s offered the ultimatum: stay and abide to her mother’s plans for her life, or leave with the new stranger who promises her a world anew? 

The second book very quickly picks up where the first book left off and it does well to get the story going quickly again. This is nice for the audience because, especially if they’ve been waiting on the continuation of the series for quite some time, they’re going to be reunited with the characters that they’ve already come to know rather well. Likewise, just like the continuation of the story does well to maintain the narrative and the plot itself, the author yet again returns with the wonderful characterisations of the cast members that are showcased throughout. For the readers who have come to know and love Lucky and Liam, they’re going to be thrilled to know that their personalities shine through even brighter in this continuation of the series. Liam’s notable dialect and his bold personality are just as evident as before and, whilst that’s captivating for the reader directly, I think the main light shines on Lucky’s development throughout the book. 

Focusing on this element of the book further, I do think that Lucky’s character arc is something that needs to be considered and explored further. At times I felt as if her strength was ‘ebbing and flowing’, if it were. It felt as if she was developing but in a way where she took one step forward and two steps back. In a sense, it felt as if it were a game of cat and mouse – will she, won’t she? This is definitely something that has the potential to be developed in the further continuation of the series and the third book as, since she’s obviously such a main focus of the narrative, her character needs to become more sturdy and further needs to be ‘scoped out’. However, this also links into the fact that Lucky showcases her own issues with coming to terms with her personality within this second novel, as her ties to Liam’s world become more developed and further details are revealed as the plot continues. She’s facing an internal battle and doesn’t know who she really is – and this is an element of her characterisation that comes across easily to the audience themselves. Though, this is also something that I didn’t feel all that comfortable within as a plot feature itself. As somebody who has a mental illness that legitimately causes them to lose all sense of identity, a part of me felt that it was being used a ’shock’ tactic. It was all reacted to in a very dramatic fashion by the characters as if it were completely unrealistic and unthought of when this isn’t the case. A part of me could indeed relate to Lucky’s struggle in terms of her not being able to pinpoint who she was, but this only lasted for a moment before the story moved on and seemed to completely forget that plot point in its entirety. I was happy that the book wasn’t focusing on the fact and inadvertently using the mental illness as a shock factor, but I do think that it was introduced to play a bigger role in the story than it actually was. Again, this is a personal thing as I’m directly linked to the subject matter at hand and I’m sure that a lot of readers will just skim over it as another plot point, but it is something that I picked up on through my own reading experience. 

Back to the main plot content of the second book, I definitely enjoyed the fact that there seemed to be a lot more action that was present throughout. Even though the first book does well to completely immerse the readers, the second book works to keep them entertained as the action makes the plot feel more ‘fast-paced’. Despite this, the novel has been written wonderfully in the way that it allows the audience to follow the action even as it picks up. This means that the reader isn’t going to get sidetracked and they’re not going to lose focus of the main things that are happening in the plot at that point in time. Not only does this, again, make them feel closer to the story, but it makes them feel as if they’re part of the narrative, more so than just spectators who are looking in. Due to this, the second book proves to be another easy read as it continuously flows well and at no point did I feel as if the content or the action was lagging. The pacing of the second book is just as good as it was in the first which the reader base is generally going to appreciate as it makes it more enjoyable to read. It also works to tie the two books together a lot better and the plot between the two seems to flow. There’s no ‘jump’ between the first book and the second which leaves the readers feeling as if they’ve missed out on something – they don’t have questions that are still unanswered. 

The characters are faced with new challenges that test their relationship to both each other and their family members around them, so it’s obvious that there’s going to be a lot of emotional conflicts. One of the things that I liked about the book – and that I generally enjoy when it comes to the series itself – is the fact that the author does so well to showcase and portray the emotions that the characters are experiencing. In turn, the audience gets a better understanding of what they’re going to and they’re able to put themselves in the mindset of the characters that they’ve come to be so close to. Even just through describing what the characters are experiencing, the author does well to create visualisation that transports the audience into the world of the story and they feel as if they’re going through the plot with the characters directly. 

Again, I think it’s just personal preference in the fact that I’m not versed in the romance genre which is why there are elements of the book that still made me cringe. I can’t relate to any of the relationship experiences or the emotions that are showcased, and so, in turn, I don’t think I understand the extent of them. In some scenes, instead of seeming romantic, the actions of the characters just seemed dramatic and over-the-top. I’m not a huge fan of romance and this series definitely didn’t covert me, but that doesn’t mean that it was any less of a joy to read and experience. It’s always fun to expand reading preferences and explore different stories and plots, this one just happened to be further from my personal life.

I think the end of the book does well to round of this specific ‘chapter’ of the story but, at the same time, it effectively leaves it open to continuation. It doesn’t leave the reader thinking ‘what if’ like the first book did, but it does indicate that the story is going to expand even further and that the characters are going to face more challenging situations that they’re going to have to battle through. For fans of the series, this is going to leave them on the end of their seats and, for new readers, they’re likely to want to explore the plot even further as well. We know what’s going to happen, but we don’t know how and we don’t know how the characters are going to deal with the obstacles that are thrown into their paths, so that gives the audience enough motivation to mark the upcoming third book down on their ‘to be read’ list. 

To put it simply; this second book in the continuation of the series does well to reunite the readers with the characters that they know and love. The characterisation is excellently written, once again, and the relationships that form throughout the progression of the book really shine through. Though there are a lot of elements of the book that could be improved (such as either expanding on or closing off the whole ‘conformer’ storyline), the narrative has still been well-constructed and does a great job of submerging the audience into the world of Lucky and Liam yet again. Likewise, the book showcases a lot of potential for the characters to be developed in the future, which holds the audience’s attention even further and prompts them to want more. It’s another fun, immersive, riveting read that transports the reader into a world that’s completely new. All in all, there’s definitely going to be a fanbase waiting for these two to make their return in the third.

I want to thank Shaila Patel once again for reading out to me and giving me the opportunity to read the series. It really was a lovely experience and I felt as if I got to know the characters on a personal basis, which was wonderful.

Thanks for reading this short review and I’ll write you later. 

If you’re a fan of paranormal romances and watching characters fight tooth and nail for each other, then you’re definitely going to be interested in this series and you should give it a look.

If you’re interested in reading stories with dynamic characterisation, excellent creation of tone, and a completely immersive narrative with a range of representation, then don’t pass up the opportunity to get to know this series.

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