Finch enjoys his work as the personal secretary to Hugh Drake. He is responsible for managing pretty much all aspects of Hugh’s life and the job suits the meticulous and detail-oriented Finch perfectly. He also finds himself drawn to the sweet, caring, but somewhat flighty, Hugh, and enjoys spending time with the man. The only blemish in Finch’s otherwise happy existence is the fact that Hugh desperately wants to sire a clutch. As a Disgrace (the human offspring of a dragon shifter), Finch can never give Hugh what he wants. In fact, he doesn’t even want Hugh to know his background, for fear of getting both of their hopes up about a possible mating match.
When Hugh decides he is no longer content to wait and hope he finds a mate the traditional way, he tasks Finch with first putting together a list of all the potentially available Disgraces and later organizing a ball where he might meet them. Hugh has heard enough about his brother Everard’s research to understand that Disgraces — or more correctly, dragonets — are actually omega dragons who do not shift forms. He knows pairing with a dragonet could bring him the family he has long desired. While Hugh feels strongly for Finch, his hopes for having a family are even stronger.
However, the two men end up spending increased time together, time where they build their relationship past a normal boss/employee connection. Finch is falling for Hugh harder than ever, and Hugh has started treating Finch almost like a mate. But Finch knows that nothing can come of their relationship and the pain of wanting what he can’t have is almost too much to bear. However, Hugh has fallen hard for Finch, and he is not ready to give up on the man he loves.
Finch is the third book in the Forbidden Desires series spin-off universe. While the three books in the main series all directly connect with the story arc relating to the Disgraces/dragonets, the spin off books tend to stand more individually. However, familiarity with this world, particularly with the first trilogy, will be a big help here in understanding the world building. Hugh has been a background character throughout the series, and it has been clear how much he wants a clutch, and how upset he has been to not be selecting for the mating experiments that might have found him his match. So it was fun to get a chance to meet him more directly, as well as see him finally get his happy ending.
There is an entertaining dynamic between Finch and Hugh, as Hugh is kind of flighty, and at times somewhat dim, to be honest. Finch, on the other hand, is controlled, meticulous, and on top of every possible situation. His goal is to take care of every one of Hugh’s needs and make sure his life runs absolutely smoothly. So they are definitely an opposite pairing and it is fun to see the softer side of Finch emerge as he lets his feelings for Hugh come out. Hugh is kind of a big teddy bear and, over the course of the story, he reaches out more and more for Finch as a person, rather than an employee. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship transitions from the formal business partnership it has always been, to one where the men share a deep friendship and romantic connection. There are some amusing moments as poor Finch is totally out of his element by Hugh’s attempts at informality between them, and it is fun to see their romance bloom.
The conflict here centers around Finch’s perception that he cannot provide Hugh with the family he so desires. On one hand, it is clear that Finch cares about Hugh so much that he is willing to put his own happiness aside. But I also feel like this conflict really rests on the men not talking to one another about their feelings, as well as Finch’s inability to accept what he is being told about dragonets actually being the perfect mates for dragons. I had trouble understanding why he was so resistant; based on the timeline, this book takes place about 6 or 7 years after Everard and Harry discovered the dragon/dragonet mate connection, as well as after pretty much all the Drakes found their dragonet mates and sired clutches. So I wanted to have a better idea of just why Finch is so unwilling to believe the truth, even after being told more than once. It just made for sort of a muddy conflict when I didn’t really understand Finch’s resistance.
Along the same lines, I feel like some of the character development wasn’t fleshed out enough for me. We know Hugh is dying for a clutch because we have been told by others throughout the series. But I would have loved some time in his head to really get his direct feelings about why this is so important to him. Similarly, I wanted more inside Finch’s head about why he is unwilling to tell Hugh he was sired by a dragon and why he is so sure things won’t work between them. I think it would have made for richer character development, as well as a better sense of what was driving the conflict.
I’ll also note that Hugh is not particularly smart, or perhaps just flighty and too easily distracted. But he seems frequently clueless or oblivious to the world around him. For example, he is helping Finch sweep something up and he tries to throw the dustpan into the trashcan because he doesn’t understand you reuse it. He is constantly misreading situations or not understanding things that seem obvious to everyone else. Most of this is played for laughs, but it did get to be a lot for me at times. Hugh just frequently came across as so helpless and unaware of what was happening in his own life (much more so than any of his brothers). That said, once Hugh goes into protective mode over Finch, he really steps up and takes care of his man, making the partnership feel more equal. The guys are sweet together and I enjoyed the way things all come together.
As usual, we get to spend time with the assorted Drake clan and the scenes with all of them together were particularly fun. Both Alistair and Everard’s children are much older now (8 and 7), so it was interesting to see them at a different stage of life. I laughed as poor Finch has to face Misha’s scrutiny and enjoyed the way all the omegas bonded together. This story hints at some problems going on with Sebastian and Perry (and I know that they have a book upcoming), as well as giving us another Bertram sighting. I am really curious for his story, as he is definitely caught up in something we haven’t yet explored. So there are lots of interesting elements here in this book and this series, and I am definitely looking forward to more.