I read the third and fourth books in the Fated collection. Third one (Darkness of Light by Stacey Marie Brown) wasn’t too bad; the paranormal aspect is faeries (lots of different kinds) and demons and while I didn’t think it was as good as Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford (the second in the set), it was intriguing enough that I might check out the second book in the series. I’d say 3/5 stars. (The first book, Amaranth by Rachael Wade, I did not care for at all.)
But, ohhhhh, the fourth book. Flight by Alyssa Rose Ivy.
I don’t think I’ve hated a book, or more specifically a *character*, so much in my entire life. When I was reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I had to put the book down once during a Professor Umbridge moment because I was so angry at what she was doing. That was the most I’d hated a character before now. But J.K. Rowling made it very clear that *Umbridge was a bad guy*. Not so in Flight, with the love interest Levi!
TW for partner abuse
He is controlling, arrogant, manipulative, possessive and jealous. He shows all the hallmarks of becoming an abuser, by lying to her, physically touching her both without permission and while she’s trying to move away or shrug him off or tell him she’s not interested (repeatedly; this happens pretty much every time they’re together), shows up at her work and refuses to leave until she agrees to a date, while insinuating to everyone within earshot that they totally had sex already (when they hadn’t, but even if they had, she is visibly embarrassed to have this happening in front of coworkers), he insists on calling her a name she doesn’t prefer and explicitly says he wants to have a name that only he uses for her because possessiveness (Allie: “What, like you name a pet? That sounds kind of possessive.” Levi: “It is kind of possessive, Al.”), making it clear he’s comfortable invading her privacy (he answers her cellphone and shows her he can break into her room easily), and eventually cutting her off from her family and friends. He also has a GPS tracker installed on her car without her permission, possibly very early in the relationship (he shows up unexpectedly and gives a suspiciously coincidental reason for knowing she was there).
**spoilers to follow, though I hope no one ever reads this book**
TW for sexual assault, continued TW for partner abuse
He motherfucking traps our heroine into a lifelong commitment to him (with an enchanted ring and then a sexual encounter, when she didn’t know what they meant). Supernatural version of poking a hole in a condom, AND I’M SO EXCITED FOR WHEN THAT LITERALLY HAPPENS because he’s a literal prince who HAS to have an heir. After she finds out what he’s done, the morning after their romp, she runs away because she’s angry and freaked the fuck out (so understandably). She gets kidnapped by a rival supernatural group because she’s a princess (unbeknownst to her) and can be used to overthrow the ruling family by preventing them from ever having an heir (they “mate” for life). She is nearly raped and IS stripped naked and groped before being rescued by Levi’s friend.
When she grudgingly agrees to see Levi when it’s all over a few days later (pressured heavily by his friends, and with no one solidly in HER corner), I’m so proud of her because she has this to say:
“There is no *us*. Whatever chance we had is gone. You tricked me, lied to me, used me and pretty much did anything you possibly could to destroy us. You’re the reason I was kidnapped and nearly raped. It’s your fault.”
Yay, go Allie! You are correct and it is so amazing that you are standing up for yourself! I’m sorry you have an author that is going to force you into a relationship with this douche anyway. Because, hoo boy. Here’s why everyone (read: the author) thinks she should totally give Levi a second chance:
1. You’re mated for life, and there’s no going back / undoing it and you can’t leave New Orleans anymore anyway because other supes *will* hurt you and/or your family.
2. It’s a cultural thing! Levi’s mom says *almost* the same thing happened to her, and look how great her life’s turned out!
3. If the other supes believe that the ruling family is weak by not having an heir (or at least the possibility for an heir), then the seat of power will move out of New Orleans and that will drain resources from the community. Hasn’t the city lost enough? (seriously, a reason given by more than one person….you can’t leave this abusive betraying jerk, or New Orleans and all its citizens will never recover from Katrina. EVER. Emotional manipulation whaaaaaaaat!) Also the other supes will maybe start a war “or worse”.
4. Allie’s mom and dad are divorced. Her dad is basically absentee, and her mom is about to move in with a man. This man is the father of a boy Allie’s age who consistently made her uncomfortable with his sexual/romantic advances/requests/pressure in high school. He will now be living part-time at her mom’s house, so that is no longer a safe place for her to go. (And of course Allie’s mom didn’t talk to her about any of this; she found out from the creepy young man when she called her mom while on the run, just before being kidnapped.)
5. You’ll forgive him eventually anyway, I mean you’re SO RIGHT for each other. You wouldn’t be attracted to each other if it wasn’t meant to be. (No, it couldn’t be the dysfunction of her parents’ relationship drama playing out in her life, or raw physical appeal, or anything like that. It’s *~*~fate~*~*.)
So anyways; immediately after that little speech Levi apologizes and says
“The thought of those brutes touching you…”
😐 Not ‘the thought of what happened to you.’ Not ‘the thought of what *I’ve* done to you.’ Not even ‘the thought of what they almost did to you.’ No. Let’s definitely emphasize the problem is that another man touched your woman. That’s the REAL issue here.
The conversation continues a bit, and he’s pleading and the other coffee-shop patrons are starting to stare, so she lowers her voice and says
“Levi, are you even listening to me? Do you really expect me to forgive you for what you put me through? You make it sound like you stood me up.”
Yes, good! You’re clarifying what the problem is and reaffirming your stance and putting the ball back in his court. Way to go, Allie!
Levi: “I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry. You were only kidnapped because you ran off.”
I literally stopped breathing for about a minute there. Fucking. What. No. She was kidnapped because you trapped her with a ring she can’t take off that every supe knows means she’s his mate and neglected to explain any-fucking-thing about what that might mean. Secondarily, she was also kidnapped because *kidnappers decided to take her*. Her *running off* was like….the most distant tier of responsibility for why she was kidnapped. In the same way that a victim who is mugged while returning for the cellphone their partner threw over their shoulder is “only mugged because they walked away”. No.
Levi continues: “I didn’t expect you to do that. I already planned to explain more over dinner. Remember, I told you I had something important to tell you.” Super, more gaslighting/victim-blaming. If only you’d gone out on the date with your abusive betraying sorta-boyfriend, he would’ve explained it all so you wouldn’t worry your pretty little head! I mean, if you hadn’t *overreacted* like that…
So then, he convinces her to give him *one night* to show her what it means that she’s a princess and that this was all rilly-rilly worth it. (Not to show how very sorry he is. Not to show how he’ll change so that she can trust him again.) He says her new friend, a shifter like him, will give her all the details. Allie says
“‘Details? What kind of night is this?’
Levi smiled broadly. ‘Just wait and see. All I’ll tell you is that it’s a party.’ He took advantage of my surprise to kiss me lightly on the cheek before walking away.”
GAH. Yes, definitely go in for an unauthorized kiss on a woman who is pissed at your betrayal and was very recently sexually assaulted. SUPER GREAT BOYFRIEND. Also…a party? Really?? Really. And it gets even “better”, because it’s an “engagement” party where she has to pretend that everything is fine (or else New Orleans is doooooomed and also Levi’s father might *force* the marriage early to secure his family’s power base.) Also she wears stilettos even though she recently twisted her ankle, and Levi’s mom chose for her a bright red dress when literally every other party-goer is in black and/or white. Great family you’re lifetime-committed to there; way to make her comfortable!
Originally, she is in New Orleans (she lives in New York) only for the summer, after which she is going to Princeton. She was not overly excited about Princeton, but at every suggestion that she go to Tulane instead (as she grew more fond of New Orleans and Levi), she resisted. NOW. She WILL be going to Tulane and living in New Orleans, cut off from her family and friends.
The final lines of the book, after Levi pulls her tightly against him as they dance and tells her he loves her:
“‘And that’s supposed to make everything better?’ I bristled. ‘You love me? It doesn’t matter anyway.’
‘Because I don’t love you.’ Even as the words left my lips, I knew they weren’t true.”
THANK YOU SO MUCH, AUTHOR, FOR UNDERCUTTING YOUR STRONG HEROINE’S WORDS AND REAFFIRMING THAT WOMEN DON’T SAY WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN. Super great.
I give this a .5/5 stars. The .5 is for having some different supernaturals (Levi and his kind are called Pterons and are like were-ravens. They have wings that can sprout out of their backs and they can fly.) and a really kickass heroine. Who almost everyone is terrible to. Special shout-out to Owen, too, who I was *really* hoping was going to be the love interest (when I still had hope Levi was the misdirect) because he seemed kind and respectful (and was also a Pteron, and the brother of her new Pteron best friend and college roommate Hailey).