Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 6 hours, 31 minutes
Sawyer Smith is on the verge of graduating with his Master’s degree and has his whole life ahead of him. If he can get his best friend, Draco, to look at him as more than a friend, all the better. But when the mansion gets built across the street and Sawyer sees someone finally move in, he’s anxious to say hi to the new neighbors. He never expects that meeting them will unleash secrets and an entire world he never knew existed.
Sawyer quickly learns that magic and shifters exist, and that Draco is not what he seemed. And though he’s always wanted Draco, Sawyer finds himself drawn to the mage, Henry; the vampire, Andvari; and the griffin, Eduard. He learns about the mysterious Chosen One, and that the four other men are all guardians to the Chosen One. But while it’s clear that Sawyer is where he’s supposed to be, his role is less clear, and he knows that once the Chosen One finally appears, he’ll be left out.
But danger is on the horizon and Sawyer is in the middle of it. With each new piece of the puzzle, the mystery grows deeper. As do Sawyer’s feelings for all of the other men. As the danger mounts, Sawyer has to make choice. Is he willing to take a chance on the men he’s grown to care for or walk away?
All or Nothing is the first book in the main Chosen One series, and it’s immersive in the world, while also not being entirely without problems. As much as I enjoy this whole universe Blake has created, this book has inconsistency issues that tweak my brain. The MCs are just in the beginning stages of development, which I enjoyed, as we’re learning about the characters along with Sawyer. The world is explained in the same way, which works well for understanding the magic and shifter culture as Blake has created it. So I was on board with that.
Sawyer is sort of the main MC here, as the story revolves mostly around him. But we get POVs from Draco, Henry, Eduard, and Andvari as well. It works together to layer in the characters and let the reader understand them all better. The world is pretty involved, and though we got parts of it in the prequel story, it’s even more explained here. Each MC has a role to play in not only the story, but in the greater world as well. The story lays out how each supernatural creature’s culture fits in within that. I appreciated the attention to detail here.
This series touts itself as a harem novel, but it’s really more of a polyamorous romance. All of the MCs have relationships with each other, as well as with Sawyer, so the harem moniker doesn’t really work. The chemistry is good between all the MCs, and this book is pretty high on the heat scale. To be fair, this required a bit of suspension of disbelief for me, but it was easy to go along with it. There’s an element of mates in this story, alluding to fate without explicitly mentioning it. But I was on board for the romance aspects of this story.
My biggest issues with this book stem from the inconsistencies. There are small things, like the fact that in the prequel there’s a whole scene that goes into depth on Henry’s lactose intolerance, but then it’s never mentioned here and he even eats cheese. Early on, Draco tells Sawyer he can’t claim Sawyer as a mate because he’s committed to the unknown Chosen One, but as soon as that’s said, it’s ignored and they begin a relationship. Sawyer knows that he won’t be included when the Chosen One shows up, but he doesn’t hesitate to jump into sexual relationships with the other MCs. With these things, and small other details, I had to just let it go and flow with the story. It didn’t always work for me, but I was able to allow the story to be what it was.
Listening to this one was a real treat. Michael Dean once again narrates (as he does the entire series and accompanying books) and I really liked the emotion he put into the story. Dean has a great voice, rich and smooth, that’s easy to listen to. The MCs all have distinct voices, which goes a long way to elevating the narration. Again, I found some of the sex scenes to be too intense in emotion, more like action than passion. Conversely, Dean did a great job with the action scenes, and the tension there really ratcheted up the danger. Dean performs the story well. Overall, I enjoy the narration here a bit more than the prequel and I’m looking forward to listening to the next book.