Review: Designed by Destiny by Maya Tyler

*EN: I think it’s important to note Aidee submitted this review on November 26, 2022, and the delay was entirely my fault. Apologies to all.

Designed by Destiny by Maya Tyler
Contemporary/light urban fantasy released by Tirgearr Publishing on November 15, 2022

Confirmed bachelor Nicholas Grey is more than the playboy perpetrated by the tabloids. Now his position as CEO of the architecture firm Grey & Company is on the line, and his mother’s interference is making things more difficult. Nick’s committed to his work, but, in order to be taken seriously, he needs to land a huge project. A stable personal life will help guarantee the contract.

Fairy Godmother Faye Delmore hears Nick’s plea and steps in to help. Posing as a publicist, she suggests a strategy to polish his public image, which includes convincing Beth to play his wife. Faye knows Nick needs the huge project to save his job, but she also knows he needs Beth in his life.

What happens when you add a fairy godmother who loves playing matchmaker into the equation? A future designed by destiny.

I want to start this review with a caveat. When I picked up this book, I was not in a great frame of mind, having just taken a long test which I find to be entirely pointless, but which I can’t avoid. It is entirely possible this book will work for someone out there, but it did not work for me. The premise is cute and caught my attention. However, it was difficult for me to believe in my heart that the couple actually fell in love over the course of the book or that they were going to have a fulfilling and loving relationship by the end of the book. There are elements of magic in this book, but because the main characters are not aware of them, they felt distracting, as opposed to adding depth to the world. Finally, the way the author handled the power differential in this book did not work for me – I could not stop thinking to myself, “But she’s only an intern!”

Beth is an intern at an architecture firm. I’m not sure how architecture firms work, but in this book, Beth is out of college as far as I can tell and the internship is paid, enough so that she can afford an apartment on her own in Chicago. The book opens with her attending some kind of very important architecture conference in Las Vegas with the rest of the company she works at. And at a reception, she runs into Nick (the love interest), who drags her into playing his fiancée in front of a very important client whose contract Nick is trying to secure for the company. Nick, by the way, is the CEO of the company where Beth works. The reason that Nick needs a fiancée, supposedly, is because the board of directors thinks he’s too irresponsible because of his womanizing ways to be in charge of a whole company. Also, the very important client seems to think this. In fact, the very important client appears to be instrumental in pushing Nick and Beth into a Las Vegas drunken marriage. I have questions about all of this. First, why on Earth would you think, as a man, it is okay to walk up to a random woman at a professional event, kiss her on the mouth in front of colleagues and potential clients, and ask her to just go along with it? Second of all, why would you get memory loss inducingly drunk with a very important client after signing a big contract? A couple glasses of celebratory booze makes sense; getting so drunk you get married and don’t remember all the details the next day does not. Somehow, Nick convinces Beth that it is to her benefit to continue this marriage in Chicago, at least for six months or so, while they convince the board that Nick is a paragon of responsibility and stability and all the good CEO qualities the board wants. I was not convinced of the merits of this plan, but I was still curious to see how this all worked out in the end, so I kept on reading. Beth swings between wanting to stay married and thinking it is a terrible idea. Whenever she’s ready to call things off, she reaches out to her friend, or to the publicist Nick and she work with to help them with their public announcement of their marriage. And they convince her that she should stay married.

To be fair, there are instances of Beth and Nick spend time together. But these instances are few and far between – Beth works in a specific department/section of the firm, not as part of Nick’s staff or in the executive suite. Also, a lot of the time, Nick and Beth seem to be having two entirely separate conversations. It isn’t until the very last pages of the book that they have some kind of conversation about how they feel about each other. This, to me, felt overly delayed. Beth has insecurities from a past relationship and because she’s from a different class than Nick – and possibly from some racism that pops up at work, although that wasn’t fully clear to me. In any case, we don’t get the full picture of what happened in her past that makes her vulnerable to comments about “not belonging” with Nick because of where she comes from, just allusions to a relationship in college that ended with the man insulting Beth. And while I completely believe that Beth would encounter racism at work – architecture feels like a profession where there are a lot of white men, and more white women than Black women or people of color – it wasn’t clear to me if the tension between Beth and some of her supervisors was because she was an intern or because she was a woman of color.

Nick, as I said, was a womanizer – although we don’t really see him be a womanizer before meeting Beth, or him thinking about his past relationship choices during the course of the book. He also doesn’t seem to have a good relationship with his parents, or very many friends, except possibly his lawyer. I don’t remember if there was ever a good explanation for why Nick and his parents actively disliked each other, but there was definitely not any resolution to that tension. I also have questions about being friends with your lawyer – it’s not clear if his lawyer is his company’s lawyer or his personal lawyer, for one (which is an important distinction). And Nick’s friend says some truly unfortunate things about Beth, which I’m not sure if were just supposed to be “locker room talk” or what, but they don’t do him or Nick any favors. To be fair to Nick, he does defend Beth from his mother’s not-so-subtle verbal attacks. But Nick’s behavior brings us back to this whole idea that he is/was a womanizer. Two exes (maybe?) come up to cause trouble between Nick and Beth – although I say maybe because the first ex was also a work colleague and I didn’t think she was sexually/romantically involved with Nick at the beginning of the book, but then she makes a rather dramatic scene towards the end that explicitly connects her to Nick so I’m not sure what’s going on there. And here is where I got really annoyed with the book – more annoyed than I was already. First, I was not sold on the relationship between Nick and Beth, then Beth catches Nick in the middle of a heavy makeout session that seemed ready to move on to more clothing-optional activities with another woman at his office. And Nick’s apologies left something to be desired. There was no big conversation about why Nick felt he couldn’t escape the other woman’s clutches. [Spoiler: First, this woman walks into Nick office after normal business hours, takes off her coat to show a very sexy outfit, sits on his desk in front of him, and proceeds to make out with Nick. Nick never puts any space between them at any point, and even seems into the whole episode, until Beth shows up.] The groveling was not, in my opinion, sufficient. Supposedly, there are the emails that Nick wrote to Beth while they were (not talking, but we don’t see them on the page, just Beth’s emotional reaction to them,) and even that faded to black pretty quickly. As a reader, I find it difficult to be invested in something if all I get is the character’s vague emotional reaction. After a dramatic scene, there’s a reunion between Beth and Nick, where they talk a little about their feelings for each other and decide they want to stay together. And that’s where the book ends. All of this is why I had a difficult time with these characters, but this isn’t even all the book.

This brings me to the magic elements in this book. I’d say this was light urban fantasy, because the magic was only alluded to throughout the book. The publicist, Faye, I mentioned is a fairy, who works with other fairies to grant people’s wishes. The thing is, people, including Nick and Beth, don’t know that these are wish-granting fairies. Also, there is apparently some sort of court in England or Ireland that may or may not extend to the United States. This court has some sort of questionable but vague political intrigue that involved Faye’s family – including her betrothed. We don’t get details about what terrible political deeds Faye’s family was involved in. Faye has her own romance going on. I’m not sure what this plot line contributes to the story, aside from Faye playing a key role in pushing Nick and Beth together. I say pushing because I’m not sure that Beth and Nick would have stayed together without outside intervention. That didn’t need to be magical in nature. Beth’s friend was also on the Nick-and-Beth-should-be-together train and forcefully nudged Beth towards Nick on more than one occasion. So, in all, the fairy subplot felt more distracting than complementary because I kept wondering about the fairies and their world and how it fit into this world – or didn’t fit. And in this context, it felt a little off-putting that powerful creatures were nudging humans to do what they thought was best and would in theory fulfill the human’s wishes.

There were also some technical issues that pulled me out of the story. The transitions between chapters felt very rough – the chapters would often end in one place, with the characters in one emotional state, and then boom! We would start a new chapter in a different place and time with different feelings happening. This issue also happened when there were shifts in scenes; Beth would be crying in one scene and then doing something completely different in the next and I would be very confused as to how and why we made this shift. You might say, “But Aidee, chapters usually end and then a new chapter starts somewhere else, so why are you complaining about this?” And normally I would agree with you, but there is a method to moving from one chapter to the next. For example, if there is going to be a passage of time between what happened at the end of one chapter and what is happening at the beginning of the next, you have to show it to the reader somehow, either through word choice or through the character’s actions/thoughts. [Also, the name of the architecture firm changed a couple of times, as did the name of the company the fairies used to cover their wish-granting activities.] This kind of stuff sounds very knit-picky, but if you don’t iron most of it out, it takes away from the experience of being pulled into the story.

For all of these reasons, I am finding it difficult to recommend you pick up this book. However, if you are curious to see how another author handles the Las Vegas marriage trope combined with a workplace romance, then this is a definite candidate.

Grade: C+

You can read an excerpt here and buy a copy here.

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