Nudging Fate

An Enchanted Occasions Story

by E.J. Russell

Not exactly a match made in Valhalla.

Half-norn event planner Anders Skuldsson is under strict orders from Asgard not to meddle with Fate. But with Enchanted Occasions’ latest booking—a competition for the hand of Faerie’s one true prince—crashing around his ears, it’s really difficult to toe that particular line. But if Andy pretends to be a contender for the prince…. It’s only temporary, so Odin can’t blame him. Right?

Conall of Odstone’s half-brother, Prince Reyner, was supposed to choose a mate before being crowned and wed. But the idiot left Con to impersonate him. Again.

When Con meets Andy, his anger turns to desire… and despair. Even if Andy forgives him for his imposture, how could someone eligible for a prince’s hand settle for the court outcast? And the double-deception isn’t their only obstacle. Unless Andy makes the right choice, their fates could be sealed by…well… Fate.

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Reviews:Sara on Boy Meets Boy Reviews wrote:

He’s a prince. He’s the client.

Anders “Andy” Skuldsson, our half-norn event planner, has a job to do and that’s to produce “The Courting, Coronation, and Handfasting of His Royal Highness Reyner of Maidencourt, the One True Prince of Faerie”… or as us humans would call it; a supernatural version of The Bachelor that parades a line of consorts in front of the prince so that he may to choose his life partner. Andy’s job basically rides on this as there has been a few mishaps with Enchanted Occasions Event Planning.

[…]Con had agreed to the idiotic, gods-be-damned spell that would make Con identical to Rey whenever the two of them chose— and Rey chose far too often for Con’s peace of mind.

Conall “Con” of Odstone has been a fool for his half-brother’s games all their lives and the one Rey likes to pull the most is the spell that allows Con to look exactly like his brother though they aren’t twins. When Con is waiting for Rey to show up so he can claim his consort, he’s begged by his brother to let him have a few moments of freedom (aka Vegas) before he is chained to a relationship he doesn’t want and frankly never will having seen what the mating vows and magically enforced fidelity for eternity had done to his father. Of course Con agrees, he’ll do anything for his brother and sends Talus, the legendary Iron Knight to fetch the first possible consort to meet the “prince.”

But when Andy is about to round up the list of eligible consorts, he finds they have all gone a bit green down to the last nasty one of them and Talus arrives, Andy is the only suitor left available and so begins our romantic deception.

Would Andy be attracted to Con once this masquerade was over and Con was no longer decked out in the trappings of royalty?

I am such a sucker for the false identity story when it comes to romance. The idea of being with someone you thought you knew based on hearsay and then getting to know the real person who literally isn’t who you thought makes me happy. I can’t explain it, it’s just this feeling of getting to be yourself and have someone fall for the real you even though you aren’t really you? You know? The internal struggle to tell the truth is so angsty that I eat it up. This book gave me so much and I am so happy that I have found Russell’s form of fantasy because I am hooked and now a fan.
When Andy and Con meet… let’s just say I squeaked because you see, we get both POV’s in this story and it was great being able to see them react immediately to the other and know they are smitten from the start. Of course, I am a fan of insta anything as long as it’s written well and this was written so well.

“We’re getting to know one another. That’s what this is all about, right? No one can fault either one of us for that.”
“You’d think.”

I have to say that Russell’s world building is my new jam. Goodness. I loved the whole idea of Faerie and its stunning beauty and the thought that Portland is its equal on Earthside makes this girl grin. Each supernatural creature was unique with a blend of old world and technology that seems like it wouldn’t fit and yet it did. While the world building was above and beyond what I didn’t even expect, the romance with Con and Andy is what sells this book. It’s fluffy but with a bit of depth that had me falling and falling hard.

Wow. I am getting to rambling status right now aren’t I and I haven’t even said much. I can’t help it I just adored the holy heck out of this story. It was so much fun watching Andy teach Con about technology and them just honestly getting to know one another though they both kept secrets. Even when it’s revealed who Andy is and Con has all sorts of hope… sigh. Then we get the whole utterly beautiful chaos at the end that had my hand on my chest and my eyes glued to the page because OMFG!! So freaking good.

“We had a good time when I was… well… pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m willing to see if we can enjoy ourselves when I’m being me too.”

Nudging Fate, that title has true meaning to the story and of course I loved it when I made the connection. Con, Andy and this incredible world have owned me with a beautiful tale of fantasy and romance and I can’t stop smiling or rambling so.

I’m done.

Le Freaking Sigh.

Caryn on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

We all nudge Fate every day, with every choice we make.

I just love this author when she’s being playful! Those who loved Cutie and the Beast will also love this book. It is not explicitly in the same universe, but still involves beings from various mythologies (the MC in this one is Norse) who are interacting with the morally ambiguous and manipulative world of the Fae, as well as mundane Earth. This book is set primarily in the Interstices, “the pockets in reality where … magic from all supernatural realms could coexist”. In addition to the Fae, this book has an eclectic mix of supernatural beings from just about every folklore and tradition that I can think of, cleverly integrated into a cohesive whole. It was only as I was writing this review that I realized how very clever the author was in taking such complexity and making it seem effortless!

I will save you the trouble of looking up the norn (which I just had to do because I didn’t want to wait for the author’s specific explanation). In Norse mythology there are three divine female beings who influence the destinies of gods and men (roughly corresponding to the Greek Fates), Norns with a capital N, and then there are other norns of lesser strength and influence. Anders Skuldsson is one of these – half human son of one of the big three, which makes him outcast for being a half-breed, but also mistrusted because when you are around him, how to you know that he didn’t just make things happen according to his will? Despite his questionable status, he’s a good guy just trying to do the right thing and earn a little respect. He’s the Senior Event Coordinator of Enchanted Occasions Event Planning, and has been chosen by no less than the Fae Queen herself to be in charge of her son Prince Reynard’s ceremony to choose and bond with a consort. This job is not only his greatest challenge so far, it is also a make or break event for Enchanted Occasions and his employees – all of whom are half-human and looked down on by most of the Pure bloods of the other supernatural races. Anders has a lot to prove with this gig.

Prince Reynard, on the other hand, has no desire to participate in this Faerie version of “The Bachelor” and get hooked permanently to some suitable consort chosen by his mother. He’s all about a life of freedom and promiscuity. His half brother Conall of Odstone – bastard result of the Faerie Queen’s own consort’s infidelity centuries ago – has been blessed/cursed with the gift of responsibility: he does what’s right, even when it’s difficult or inconvenient. Rey is used to exploiting this trait, and Con has ended up impersonating Rey multiple times over the years for any events that Rey finds boring, or onerous, and Con once again found himself uncomfortably forced into a predicament that unfortunately has much higher stakes than he’s ever faced before.

Through a comedy of errors and missteps, these two unlikely men end up thrust together – while each impersonating someone else – and find that they really like each other, and their chemistry is off the charts. But they are both basically men of truth and integrity, both responsible for others and wanting to do the best by them, and how can anything real and true come from such deception?

I laughed out loud at the antics of the MC’s, and at the ridiculous situations they ended up in despite the best of intentions. The secondary characters – Talus, man of iron, arbiter and dispenser of justice for Faerie, and solid supporter of Con; Brooke and Smith, the other half-breeds who work with Andy who are brilliant at creating the perfect worlds in the Interstices; the other characters that are pure comic relief like the goblin chef who creates the most incredible and delicate food but goes into a rage when people don’t appreciate it – were just pure genius. The Interstices themselves were an incredible and subtle weave of magic from different worlds combined with the best of Earth. And the plot, while superficially a romp of increasingly ridiculous circumstances, was really a story of integrity and kindness overcoming manipulation and selfishness. It’s a romantic comedy with a moral, in the style of a fairy tale, but so much more fun. I can’t wait for the next book, and there were definitely some clues dropped about who might star in the next one…

Mari on Bayou Book Junkie wrote:

Event planner Anders Skuldsson needs to pull off the event of the season, a Bachelor-like contest for the hand of Faerie's one true prince, but when one of the contestants poisons all the rest, Anders needs to pass off as a contender.

Prince Reyner makes his half-brother impersonate him during the event and Con, saddled with the gift of responsibility from birth, is unable to refuse his brother's request. The closer he gets to Andy, the more he wishes to tell him about the deceit.

Andy is keeping another secret, though, one that could potentially endanger the whole affair.

EJ Russell is quickly becoming one of my favorite fantasy authors and Nudging Fate is just a perfect example of why.

Fun, witty, low-angst and interesting, Ms. Russell kept my attention throughout the story. I was thoroughly entertained by Anders and Con's antics and was enchanted with their unlikely love story.

Anders was adorable. Sweet and quirky, very organized and even-keeled, just perfect for his job as an event planner. And Con, well, he was swoon-worthy, responsible to a fault and willing to sacrifice his own happiness for that of others. Anders and Con had amazing chemistry and it was lovely seeing them fall for each other.

I loved the secondary cast, well, some of them. The queen was horrible and Prince Rey didn't deserve Con. Brooke and Talus were my favorite, but I hope we'll get to see more of Hamish and Smith in the next installments in this series.

Very recommendable!

PizzyGirl on Love Bytes Reviews wrote:

I am loving the Dreamspun Beyond line and Nudging Fate was another great addition. This story was a unique take on a classic trope and I enjoyed my time reading.

The plot was one that has been done a million times and had the potential to be anything from predictable to OTT. In my opinion it was neither. The story moved forward in a pretty methodical fashion which laid everything out perfectly for me to connect with the characters, understand the world, understand motivations, and feel the love developing all while keeping me questing as to what would happen next. Yes, there were some instances of characters reacting exactly like I predicted, but there were just as many instances of them catching me by surprise.

I loved the world and the beings. It was a mix of all kinds of lore, most of which I am not very familiar with. I do wish we would have had more interactions with the supporting characters so I could really learn about their heritages and abilities, but in the end, I got everything I needed to really fall in love with this setting. I want more in this series so I can learn about all the supporting players. They were great and I like them all.

The romance was very well done in my opinion. It was a bit fast at first, but then I was able to see these men getting to know each other and reveal their true selves and I was hooked. I needed these men to find a way to be together and I needed to know how the plot turned out because OMG things could have gone very badly for everyone ruining the HEA.

The overall tone for this story was tense and steady and oh so cute. I loved the feelings I felt as this story moved forward. I was so caught up in it all. And in the end I was so happy things turned out as they did. I was left feeling satisfied and happy. The ending was perfect and the story was oh so cute and perfectly in line with what the Dreamspun Beyond stories are meant to be.

I highly recommend you pick this one up and give it a chance.


About the Author

E.J. Russell –grace, certified geek, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings.

Reality? Eh, not so much.


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