Griffin shifter Victor Eastaughffe might not like children, but he will do whatever he has to for the kids Nick Smith has rescued and made part of his pack. Victor travels to the compound to be onsite to handle the financial component so that everything can be done on time and with efficiency. When toddler Red Panda shifter Gus worms his way into Victor’s heart, Victor isn’t sure what to do. But whatever Gus needs, Victor will do.
Orsen Riggs is a bear shifter who was in the right place at the right time and ended up with a job with the Smith pack building the new cottages. It’s a dream job and almost too good to be true. When he meets Victor, the attraction to the red-haired griffin is instant. And though Riggs doesn’t know what to do with Gus either, because children are so rare in their world, he knows whatever Gus and the rest of the children need, he’ll do.
Victor and Riggs quickly act on their attraction. What’s more, Gus has just as quickly become the child of their heart. However, they will do what’s best for Gus, even if that means letting him go. But the connection between Victor and Riggs is deeper than either man expects. Mates aren’t real. Except maybe they are. When Riggs gets injured, Victor panics. His world has shifted and everything he thought couldn’t be, is. It’ll take some hard work, but these men are meant to be a family. If only Victor can just accept that it’s not temporary.
First off, I need to start by saying that this is the latest installment in Blake’s expansive Chosen One universe, which includes the Chosen One series, the Hellhound Champions series, and several short stories. And to be frank, it doesn’t stand alone. Yes, Blake gives hints to all that has come before, but to truly enjoy it and know all the intricacies, you need to have read all the books that lead up to this one. I’ve enjoyed them all, so I have no trouble recommending that you do just that. And bonus, Blake has compiled all the stories into three volumes, with each story chronologically placed so you don’t have to worry about which one to read when. Now onto the review!
I’ve been looking forward to Victor’s story, hoping he would get one, since he first appeared in book two of the Chosen One series, Nothing Ventured. He’s Eduard’s cousin, and plays a supportive role since he’s first introduced. He’s serious and intelligent, sophisticated and a bit stuffy. But you know, right off the bat, that he has a good heart. He supports Eduard, Sawyer, and all the mates in their endeavors, both with finances and with his smarts and muscle. We didn’t get to know him well before, but what we did see, I definitely liked. So I was excited to see him get his shining moment, and I really liked getting to know him better and see exactly what makes him tick.
Riggs is a big bear of a man, both in his human and shifted forms. He’s just a genuinely good guy and has a great sense of humor. He’s such a good balance for Victor, who takes life a little too seriously. Their banter was amusing, and it lightened the story considerably. Not to mention, their chemistry from the first moment was smoking and just leapt off the page. Sometimes, with fated mates stories, it’s hard to see exactly what draws the MCs together. That is absolutely not the case here. Riggs and Victor are perfect counterparts, and Blake does an outstanding job with their chemistry and connection.
The children are integral to this story and Gus is just downright adorable. As someone who currently has a two-year-old in my life, I can say that Blake nails the age and Gus acts accordingly. And seeing Victor, in particular, and the way he is drawn to the little boy just warmed my heart. These guys created a family right from the start.
Of course, there is the moment where Victor panics, and the ensuing separation. While I would have liked to see more communication from the MCs with each other, Blake does a decent job of letting the reader know where Victor’s head is at and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Fortunately, it doesn’t last too long, both on page and in time, before they’re back together again and working things out.
This book fits well into the larger universe with fairly consistent world building. It also sets up the rest of the series, ending with some important information, while still concluding the story nicely. I’m definitely a fan of the universe and all Blake has created here and I am absolutely looking forward to more. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, and the continuing saga of the Chosen One, the Smith Pack, and all the magical mates.