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Courting Fate
A.R. Kaufer, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

When she’s not working at the bank or playing video games with her best friend, Ana’s nose is in a book. She is comfortable with her simple life until one night, on her way home from work, she is mugged and left for dead. Fate or luck, army medic Rafe was passing by and saves her life. Grateful as she is, she can't shake the feeling she knows him from somewhere. Their lives become intertwined as she learns more about him and more about herself. Is she ready to face the truth? Will it answer her questions or break her in the process? Ana must find her strength and become who she was born to be, before it’s too late.
Kaufer’s epic debut is a fantasy, the kickoff to a series, but readers might forget that in the first 150 or so pages as, Ana, a contemporary woman with a deep fear of intimacy after experiencing abuse, gets caught up in a slow-burn romance with Rafe, the out-of-nowhere protector who saves her from a mugger and then refuses to leave her side as she’s rushed to the hospital with a bullet wound. He’s still there for her when she’s discharged, tending to her, helping her handle the police detectives who insist her story doesn’t quite add up. He’s dashing but gentle, helping her heal, in every sense.

Readers will recognize plenty of warning signs about Rafe’s potential deeper motives, of course, as does Ana’s reporter roommate and only friend, Kara. Kara doesn’t trust Rafe but when called away on an assignment must ask him to watch over Ana, who has a history of self-harm. Kaufer drops hints about what might really be going on, but she immerses readers in uncertainty as Rafe and Ana explore a chaste but romantic intimacy. Perhaps to preserve the mystery, Kaufer writes from a brisk but distant third-person perspective, offering little interiority, so readers rarely are privy to what these characters are thinking.

That makes for fast reading, sometimes too fast, as confrontations with the cops, that mugger, and others pass too quickly to build tension. Eventually, Kaufer reveals the answers. It would be churlish to spell them out here, but readers should remember that, yes, this is a fantasy, with magic, questions of royal lineage, high stakes palace intrigue, a jeerable villain, and a dash of tragedy as the Maristellar Kingdom faces tumult and the story builds to a resonant cliffhanger. The choice to delay the introduction of these elements throws the book’s genre balance toward romance, but readers who love the blend will find much here that intrigues and engages.

Takeaway: A woman’s surprise romance with the man who saves her blooms into epic fantasy.

Great for fans of: Elsie Winters’s Leviathan’s Song, Sarah Zettel’s A Sorcerer’s Treason.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-


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Greek Tragedy Written as Modern RomanceNever thought I'd take such sadistic pleasure in the torturings of two ill-fated lovers as the ones in this book, but here we are :) This book has a huge twist around the 20% point and the pace never lets up. There is a definite cycle of plot points that repeats many times throughout the book. I won't reveal it here--you'll find it for yourself--but this repetition didn't keep me from plowing forward through the story. I'll just say that poor Ana must have done something to tick off the author, because Ana really suffers a LOT :)I found myself rooting for the main characters from the start, and the main villain is truly a nasty creature. The writing is clean and clear. I never needed to go back to reread any section for clarity, because the readability was awesome. There are no boring parts here, and I'm not even a romance fan. Readers of almost any genre will like this book, but especially those who enjoy romance and fantasy.

Author Shout Cover Wars

Courting Fate was this week's winner in Author Shout's Cover Wars! Each week, five covers compete, only one will win...