Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars

Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 6 hours, 40 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

With the storm raging outside, Sam Baker almost doesn’t hear someone trying to get into his house. And when he opens the door, the last thing he expects is to find a young boy, drenched and shivering. Sam knows he has to have imagined the little boy showing animal tendencies. But to make matters worse, Ollie asks for Alpha Jerrick. Sam doesn’t know what an alpha is, but the only Jerrick he knows is Vaughn, the man he went to high school with…and who left Sam high and dry a couple of years back after a sexual encounter in a bar parking lot. But Sam does as Ollie asks and calls Vaughn.

Vaughn Jerrick comes running when he gets Sam’s call, fearing the worst. He’s surprised by the young cub cuddled in Sam’s arms. Not only does he have to explain to Sam that shifters and magic exist, but now he and his pack have to rescue a group of kids who are being held captive. Vaughn doesn’t want Sam to come; he’d much rather have the man safe. But he can’t help but admire Sam’s tenacity.

Rescuing the other five children isn’t an easy feat, but Vaughn, Sam, and the pack won’t stop until they have the kids safely ensconced on Jerrick pack lands. As Vaughn assesses the situation, he realizes how bad it’s been for the kids. Having Sam’s support as they deal with the trauma the cubs have faced shores Vaughn up. And it doesn’t hurt that Vaughn has never forgotten Sam, and only walked away before because Sam was human and he couldn’t know Vaughn’s truth.

But now Sam knows, and Vaughn realizes the truth: Sam is more than just a man he’s attracted to, Sam is his mate. Now he just has to convince Sam they were meant to be together, and that Vaughn will stop at nothing to keep Sam and the children safe. But falling in love while helping the kids heal from their trauma is not easy. Only by working together can they all come out with the happily ever after they all deserve.

Sweet Nothings is the prequel to The Chosen One series, and it sets the stage for all that is to come. If you’ve been following along with my reviews, you probably know that I’ve read all the books in Blake’s extensive and encompassing Chosen One universe. But I jumped at the chance to listen to this one and experience it in a whole new way. As such, I’m going to do my best to review this without the context I already have for the rest of the series.

Sam is a strong character who doesn’t back down from a challenge. He also has a huge heart. Blake does a great job showcasing this throughout the book. He’s an alpha without being a shifter, and he takes his responsibility seriously. He’s got a gentle approach to parenting that suits the six rescued kids well, by being firm and setting boundaries, while also showering them with love and support. I loved watching him interact with the kids, and loved how well it showed his heart.

Vaughn is a doctor, so he has knowledge, but the fact is kids are a rarity in the paranormal world these days and no one has been able to figure out why. The fiercely protective instincts that bubble up when Vaughn meets these kids is partially a result of that, and partially just who Vaughn is. He’s an alpha in the truest sense in that he takes care of his pack and makes sure all their needs are met. Which goes doubly so for the children. But he’s not above asking for help, both from his family, but especially from Sam. I like the way the MCs complement each other in this way, making up where the other lacks. Together they are a strong unit.

The chemistry between them is an added bonus, and it’s so hot it sizzles. We get to see them together early on, as Sam reminisces about their first hook up in Vaughn’s truck. But it goes beyond just their sexual chemistry, which just gets hotter as the book goes on. They fit together so well on every level that their relationship just simply works. They communicate well, and they don’t hesitate to show their affection.

Of course the romance is balanced by the rest of the plot. Sam is just learning about the paranormal world, and all the nuances and rules that entails. Blake uses this to good effect to let the reader in on what the world building is for this universe. And the plot around the captive children has some twists and turns that don’t have real answers yet. There is mention of abuse and the children have some trauma responses, understandably. But now that they have been rescued, they are on their way to healing. In the end, Vaughn and Sam are in love and well on their way to making a family with the kids.

Listening to this book was an interesting experience. Michael Dean has a wonderful voice, smooth and deep, that makes it an easy listen. Both Vaughn and Sam have distinctive voices that I felt fit the characters well. Dean gets the emotion right for most of the scenes, and the performance elevated the story. But not all the secondary characters worked as well for me, in particular the women. They felt, at times, more caricatures, especially Nana, and there were times I found it a tad grating. I also personally had an issue with the sex scenes. Dean was attempting passion with these scenes, but for me, it had the wrong tone and felt more like an action scene with high tension. But despite my issues with the audio, overall I enjoyed listening to it. For the most part, I was able to sit back and enjoy, falling into the world Blake created. If you haven’t yet jumped in, or are looking for an audio to listen to, check this one out.