Daniel was just sixteen years old when he met his soul mate for the first and only time. Daniel went the untraditional route of using a Finder. Whereas most people let nature take its course and find their soul mate when they do, Daniel couldn’t stand not knowing. The Finder pointed him in the direction of Jesse, and Daniel crossed state lines to meet him. But Jesse had signed up for the service and would be leaving. They made promises to wait for each other, though they didn’t touch for fear of making the soul mark appear. Then Daniel got a letter that said Jesse had died in combat, and he’s lived like a widower ever since. Until he gets another letter, this one saying that Jesse is alive and where Daniel can find him.
Jesse took a lot of shrapnel to the head and is suffering from PTSD from his time in the service. He doesn’t process things the way he used to, and he can’t feel people like everyone else can. He’s broken and he knows it, and that is the reason he doesn’t seek out Daniel when he comes home. He wants to get better, to be whole, before he goes after his mate. When Daniel shows up at the bar where he works, Jesse doesn’t recognize him. And Daniel chooses to tell Jesse his name is Darren, not wanting to spook Jesse.
Caught in a rainstorm, the men share and intimate moment. Their soul marks appear, and Jesse freaks out. He didn’t want Daniel to see him this way. But it’s too late. What he doesn’t realize is that having Daniel with him will help him heal. Now the only way they can be together and have the love their destined for is if Jesse lets go of his fear and lets Daniel in.
Handle With Care is the third book in Okati’s Soulmarked Series, and it’s a great addition. We met Daniel in Only You and I couldn’t wait to get his story once we found out what he was hiding from Barrett. This book didn’t disappoint. It definitely has to be read in order though, as there’s not a lot of time spent explaining the bonds and the way it all works. It hinges on having read the previous books, which I recommend you do anyway.
Daniel has been loyal and true to his mate, even though he thought he lost him. Because of the promise he made, and because no other would do it for him, Daniel has lived as a widower from a very young age. I loved his determination and his steadfastness. He was the perfect mate for Jesse, who is so lost that he needs Daniel to help him live again.
Jesse just broke my heart. He was suffering so much, and so sure that his choice were right, that when Daniel appears in his life again, he nearly crumbles. But underneath is a strong backbone, even if he doesn’t remember he has it, and that’s what allows him to eventually reach out to Daniel for help. I liked the way the author dealt with PTSD here. While having Daniel close definitely fixes Jesse to some degree, the trauma of it isn’t glossed over and both men know that it’s not that easy. There’s going to be a lot of work in their future, but they know they can do it together.
You have to take a leap of faith with this series, and just go with the fact that fated mates have instalove and know how to take care of each other. I happen to love this particular angle, and I really like the world Okati has built around humans having mates. The author continues to expand on the world, bringing in new elements, but it works well with what’s come before.
Another thing I really liked was the addition of the side characters. As this is a pretty short novella, there’s not a lot of extra secondary characters. But those that we see, we’ve seen before in previous books. And though it’s not acknowledged as to who they are in relation to previous stories, I liked seeing them again and having that moment where I remember them from before. It definitely adds to the overall feeling of the series being all tied together.
Guys, I really like this series, and Handle With Care is a great next installment. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store next.