Rating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

 

For the past 200 years, Erwan has been essentially held captive by his father, the king, not allowed to shift into his dragon form nor leave the castle walls, except to hunt. On one such expedition, Erwan finds an injured omega and, despite knowing it will incur the king’s wrath, Erwan cannot leave the man to suffer. So he brings him to the castle, unknowingly breaking the enchantment that keeps it hidden from the outside world, and stands up to his father, knowing that the code of honor cannot be broken.

Rhene Hightower is still finding his way as alpha of his own pack, and though he’s young, he’s good at what he does. When one of his pack omegas goes missing, Rhene will stop at nothing to get him back. Stumbling across the previously unknown castle is a surprise, but Rhene manages to break through and demand the return of his omega. But when Erwan and Rhene meet, fate steps in. Neither man expected to meet their mate this way. And especially not for two alphas

It takes time for Rhene and Erwan to get to know each other. In the process, they uncover that the king and the king’s brother are hiding more than Erwan ever thought. Things go from bad to worse when the two men are discovered together, as same sex relationships aren’t allowed in the dragon world. When Rhene is challenged, he stands his ground, and Erwan stands with his mate. Even if it means being cast out from his home.

But there are even deeper betrayals afoot. History shows a grievous misstep by the dragons. And it could break Rhene and Erwan.

Dragon’s Mate is the first in a spinoff series to Nora Phoenix’s Irresistible Omegas series. The author does a good job of laying all the groundwork, so if you haven’t read the ten books in the first series, you won’t be missing a whole lot. However, having read those books, I think there’s an extra nuance here, especially in regards to Rhene, his pack, and his relationship with his brothers, that is deeper for having the whole story. There are some particular plot points that pack an extra punch after having read the whole of the first series. So that being said, you could start here if you wish, but I think there’s added benefit to reading both series.

I’ve been looking forward to this series since Rhene created the Hightower pack, splitting the Hayes pack. Not in the least because some of the secondary characters who chose to join the Hightower pack are intriguing in their own right, and perfect for a story of their own. I really like the twist the author went with here, and how well the world building has lent itself to previously unknown dragons. Phoenix really did the laid out all the reasons they were a secret and managed to add enough backstory to explain everything, which I really appreciated. There’s a lot of emotion here in this story, some of it pretty heavy, and it’s handled with a deft hand. Rhene shows immense growth to how he was previously portrayed, and we see that some of that was just the perception of those telling the story, and not how Rhene actually was. I really liked getting to see his POV, his thoughts and feelings, and how hurts have run deep for him. Rhene is a nuanced character, more than I expected going in. He quickly endeared himself to me.

Erwan is naïve and sweet, and a lot of that is by design and the machinations of his father. One of the things I appreciated most in this was just how thoroughly Phoenix fleshed out this part of the story, so there was no doubt that Erwan was as naïve as he seemed. That being said, he has an inner core of strength that came out as the story developed, and was a natural progression to him not only learning just how much he didn’t know, but having Rhene’s affection and support. They complemented each other well.

The chemistry between the MCs sparks from their first meeting and only grows as the storyline continues. The romance aspect of this book is definitely a driving force, and it’s balanced nicely by everything else going on. There are several outside forces trying to separate the MCs, but I liked that even though they stumbled, they didn’t actually falter. Part of that is, of course, the fact that they are fated to be together. But another part is that they communicated well and have integrity. The author does a really good job of show casing these aspects without it actually veering too far off. They have flaws, of course, but they are believable as characters and relatable because of it. And speaking of communication, Rhene gets to have some hard conversations that, as a reader, I found incredibly satisfying because of events that happened in the first series and questions I was left with in that regard. Again, if you haven’t read those books, I think there will still be a great deal of satisfaction there, but it’s all the more so having the background.

Of course, there’s more going on than just the romance, and there are a lot of layers to that. Toward the end of the book, things step up even further, and while I won’t go into that because I don’t want to give too much away, it sets things up for the rest of the series while foreshadowing events to come.

All in all, this was another winner from Phoenix and a great first book in a series. I really enjoyed how the author built on the world she already created, and added layers that fit in well with the world as it stands. Great characters and a moving story mean this one is an easy recommendation from me.

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