Book Review: Fated

Four hundred years ago, they sailed across oceans and found a love for the ages.
Today, they must cross time to save it… and their lives.

Fated by Lila Mina is a supernatural romance with multicultural mythological references and the transmigration of souls across time. This genre-bending mixture of historical and modern settings, LGBTQ+ polyamorous relationships, and divine intervention by myth and deities create a unique blend of true to life and arcane trials that leaves the reader breathless page after page.

Four hundred years ago, the Japanese warlord Date Masamune had fought and won his war and secured his clan’s standing as innovators with the help of his warrior wife, Kyoko. He’s determined to be the one who will take Japan across the oceans in their new galley ships, with the help of a handsome Spanish ship-captain, Sebastian Vizcaino. And if their relationship is more than business, well—who would question a warlord?

Not all goes to plan. Sebastian has brought with him more than spices, in the shape of an unheard-of woman navigator and foreigner, Ana. When turmoil erupts before they can even meet, Date is forced into a precarious political position before finding himself swept away to an entirely different time altogether.

In modern-day, partners Lana, Yuki, and Honda are learning to breathe after the strangeness of their supernatural adventures. Instead of the affairs of deities and demons, they are, for a change, concerned about something more mundane: bringing home Francisco, the final pillar in their relationships. 

All seems to be going well, when Honda takes a sudden turn, claiming to be Date Masamune himself.

Audience:

For fans of paranormal romance, neither the supernatural intrigue nor the steamy sex scenes will come as a surprise. But if you’ve come for either of them, you’ll be staying for the exquisite world-building, varied character development, and unexpected plot twists that make this novel stand out.

As far as paranormal romances go though, there are other non-technical aspects that are unique as well. For one, the characters are in their forties. I thought that not relying on the 20-something standard was a brilliant move on Lila Mina’s part, and I hope to see more authors take that stance. Instead of a monogamous relationship, this novel features a four-way polyamorous family, including a lesbian and gay relationship. This is portrayed in a really authentic way, and I loved the inclusiveness of seeing different relationship models shown as viable lifestyles.

This novel also features some traditional and non-traditional references and manifestations of different religious and mythological deities, spirits, and demons, including Shinto, Buddhist, and Roman. While these have, of course, been seen in other novels, this exact combination and iteration is well-researched and unusual. This probably has much to do with Mina’s experience living in Europe and Japan at different times in her life. 

What I Liked:

By far my favorite parts of Fated were when I was so caught up in the action and the world-building I couldn’t tell what part was myth and what part was Mina. There was a significant amount of research that went into this book, and it shows. Not only was there a lot that went into the mythology, but into the class system of feudal Japan in the 1600s and historical events related to the world spice trade and the politics surrounding it. But more than the facts, was that Mina expressed how each character felt about their lot in life in a way that felt natural.

The mythological integration was brilliant. I can’t get into details without risking spoilers, but the way that Mina portrayed different spirits and deities that were native to Japan was at times captivating. Living in the Western part of the world, I’m not often exposed to much of the folklore that was included, so it was refreshing to see new types of spirits integrated I had yet to see.

Last, but probably the most important facet of this novel, is the characterization. What it comes down to is Fated is a book about relationships. The action, the mythos, the research, the world, the plot twists, all of it is wrapping. This is a book about four people navigating the complicated, up and down, terrible, wonderful, heartbreaking, uplifting parts of life and love that threaten to break us and put us back together again. They’re flawed, nuanced, and they evolve through time—exactly as they should. They were individual and distinctive, their backgrounds and voices all set apart. These characters got into my head, and I loved them for it. 

(Disclosure: I was provided an Advance Reader Copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.)

Trigger Warnings: Explicit Sexual Content (including BDSM), Graphic Violence, Mentions of Miscarriage

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