Fate Lashed by Josh Erikson (Ethereal Earth #2)

If Gabe thought getting a God out of his head was going to solve all his problems and let him get back to a normal life, he has another thing coming. Magically bulldozing the plans of all kinds of evil people means he’s still on their lists. And not for Christmas cards. If he didn’t have Heather, he’d be running close to empty, and he’s pretty sure that piece of luck might change any day now. After all, why would a succubus be hiding out with a nobody ex-con man? One who might have a very short time left on this world before some bad guy gets lucky and he gets dead? Being chased by a Troll and nearly blown up in a strip club is only the start of their problems, it doesn’t take long for the pair to realise just how much shit they’re really in. If he thought the stakes were high last time, well…it looks like these are world ending. Just another day in a life he didn’t sign up for. And can’t escape.

First and foremost this is a high action, high energy fight fest that has some serious throwdowns. And more than a little destruction. There’s one scene in which a significant amount of ancient/expensive/historically important artefacts get variously crunched and my heart palpitations nearly became a full-blown panic attack. Rarely do I have to yell at books that I don’t care who dies but just stop breaking things…. please stop. It's just the right kind of shiver though, enemies coming from all sides and that twitchy uncertainty about how the hell anyone is getting out alive. Gabe has some awesome moments, showcasing his ingenuity in situations where he doesn't have the power to compete. Yet. (Oh, it's coming). The plot is chaotic and fun, but the spread out nature of it occasionally necessitated some rather pat interventions. Long way from where they need to be? No need to worry, someone they met 5 minutes ago has a helicopter they can commandeer. It probably felt like more of an issue because there are a ton of new characters, so when things like this happen, you don’t know if they’re actually important or whether they’ve been chucked in because they have a private jet/helicopter. Even the ones that are on the page for longer struggle to make an impression. I’m down for putting a freaking Minotaur in a book, but while there's this whole backstory hinted at between him and some other characters, it’s not impactful enough to make you care. And everyone seems to be in the middle of an emotional crisis. There needs to be at least one character who doesn't need a serious 'are you ok, hun?' conversation.

Which brings me to my main issue with this offering: Gabe’s woe-is-me attitude and constant hand-wringing internalisations about his relationship with Heather. I get that Gabe thinks of himself as a very small fish a whopping great sea, a realisation only newly found, but it seems to have translated into a crisis of self-confidence. See, I get it. But damn it’s tiring when it translates into that self-depreciating humour that goes too far. The Gabe from the first book was witty and sarcastic and had this snarky commentary that makes me actually laugh aloud. This one tries to be funny at all times/in every situation and it undermined the force of the bits which were actually funny. The same kind of too-much was what happened with the Heather thing. The ‘what are we?’ drama felt less like a potential loving relationship and more like a creepy obsession, that over the top she’s-too-good-for-me spiel you get from sad guys who’ve apparently been ‘friend-zoned’ but their better looking female acquaintances. Her importance to him is an essential part of his character and the plot, but it just didn’t have the necessary emotional veracity, especially because all this seemed to take away her agency. I know we see her through Gabe, but she's a badass succubus: would she really be doing anything for pity? Doesn't she know her own mind? I'm betting she does nothing she doesn't want to now she's free, especially when it comes to sex and love. Get with it Gabe!

There’s no doubt that I’m here for the long haul with this series, but for me, this one didn’t have the power of Hero Forged. That’s not to say it’s not an entertaining way to pass the time, but I was expecting this to be better than the last. Even so, Gabe might just have a whole new bag of tricks to play with...and I am there for it. Bring on the next.

ARC via author

8/10 Fate Lashed is a high action, high energy fight fest that has some serious throwdowns. And more than a little destruction.

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