Fateful, by Claudia Gray

Claudia Gray's Fateful must have had one hell of an elevator pitch: “It's a Downton Abbey romance! But with werewolves! And set on the Titanic!” Some of those elements are executed more successfully than others, but we always approve of an author thinking big.

Gray's heroine is eighteen-year-old Tess Davies, a longtime servant of the once-wealthy Lisle family. The Lisles and Tess have just boarded the RMS Titanic, traveling from England to New York City, when Tess meets handsome Alec Marlowe, a first-class passenger with a terrible secret: he is a werewolf, and has no way of controlling (or even remembering) his actions while in his magical form. Alec and Tess are immediately attracted to one another, but their budding relationship is threatened by an agent of the shadowy, powerful organization known as the Brotherhood. The agent is determined to bind Alec to the Brotherhood's cause, and he will use anything—including Tess—to control him.

The Upstairs, Downstairs romance at the heart of Fateful had a lot of potential, particularly when combined with Alec's terrible secret. He and Tess seem genuinely fascinated by one another, and their relationship is rife with potential drama: how much of their mutual attraction is due to the artificial bond created by Tess knowing about Alec's werewolf nature? Could they ever resolve the differences between their respective stations? How would a potential courtship featuring an English maid with overbearing employers and American millionaire even work? A different (and better) book could have filled hundreds of pages with this kind of Grade-A drama, but Gray instead relies on her ill-fated setting to bring Fateful to a quick, messy end—most of the unresolved plot points literally go down with the ship. It's a deeply unsatisfying conclusion, and undermines much of the richly entertaining characterization and set-up that came before it.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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