Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator: Michael Dean
Length: 7 hours, 39 minutes

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

Toby Sanders is supposed to have an interview with the headmaster of Smith Academy, but when he shows up, he’s not on the schedule. Trying not to freak out, Toby attempts to explain. Meeting Nick Smith at least gets him in the door, but things change quickly when the very human Toby finds out that the paranormal world is real, shifters and magic exist, and that he’s not actually hallucinating. And locking eyes with a large gray wolf makes the world stop for a moment.

Brooks has long prayed for a mate, even before the magic in the world began to heal. When he first meets Toby, Brooks knows instantly that the human is meant to be his. But he also knows that Toby is human and new to their world, so it will take time for him to be comfortable. Brooks vows to go slowly and take everything at Toby’s pace. But he can’t help but feel the pull to Toby, especially when he sees Toby and the two girls he’s come to love and wants to adopt. When Brooks looks at them all, he sees his family. He just has to convince Toby to stay.

Toby agrees to hang around and find out if he fits with the Smith pack. And he can’t really believe Brooks is his mate, as he feels Brooks deserves so much more. But as the days progress, Toby realizes that he feels more comfortable here than anywhere before. When mysterious attacks happen, Toby is forced to take some children to the fae realm. It’s there that he learns some truths about what brought him to the pack in the first place. Now he just needs to figure out how he can be a good mate to the man he loves. It’ll take the help of his new friends, his pack, and Brooks’ patience before Toby can accept his new life.

This is the second book in the Magical Mates series, which is part of the author’s large Chosen One Universe, and finally brings us Brooks’ story. This character was first introduced in the prequel story, Sweet Nothings¸ and he has made a few cameos throughout the other books. When I saw that he was one of the MCs here, I was thrilled, as I love seeing characters from previous books get their own moment to shine. While this book doesn’t completely work as a standalone, as all the books in the universe up to this point are pretty intertwined, especially because of the ever-evolving metaplot, we get extra information here as Toby is human and learning about the world.

Toby is an absolute sweetheart, but not without his hang ups. I loved watching him grow and learn, and I loved his unique take on things. As a scholar of mythology and folklore, he has a unique perspective that ultimately has him adding value to the pack no one expected. On top of that, the author makes it believable that he doesn’t want all the answers to his millions of questions, as figuring things out helps him understand better. It could have been used as a plot device to simply stretch out the information. A bit of a deux ex machina as it were. And it was a plot device to a degree, but one that works and makes sense for the character.

Brooks is also a big-hearted man, and his infinite patience and gentleness are almost too good to be true. But again, it works. As Toby and Brooks are fated mates, it makes perfect sense that Brooks’ personality would be the perfect counterpoint to Toby’s, and the chemistry sparks and sizzles from the start, only growing and deepening as the men get to know each other. There’s somewhat of a slow burn here, and lots of lovely moments as they get to know each other. There’s awkwardness and playfulness as well, that I particularly enjoyed listening unfold.

The kids don’t play as big a part in the relationship development as in the first book in the series, but I really loved seeing that. Blake does a great job of showing how much Brooks wants the girls, Marigold and Daisy, and how time spent with them and Toby only enhances that feeling. But the girls don’t have as direct an impact on the two of them. They are there and present, and the men take the girls into consideration, but this story is more about Toby’s journey to acceptance and love, which I adored.

There’s also a bigger mystery in the works, and I liked seeing some questions answered. I particularly like that Toby’s lack of knowledge about the paranormal world helps him to see pieces others may miss. It added a layer that was really nice, especially as Toby has always struggled with feeling his worth and his place in the world. It was a great way to show that Toby was meant to be where he is now. Of course, with questions answered, new ones emerge. This book progresses the overall plot of things, while also ending in a really good place.

This might be my favorite of all the books in terms of listening experience. Dean has such a great narration voice, and I find it so pleasant to listen to. There’s a lot of emotion in this book, and the narrator handles it well. As for my usual issue with inconsistent character voices, it still happens here, but not nearly as much. I was absorbed more fully in the picture Dean paints with his narration, and there were times when I cursed the world for making me have to put the book on pause. As much as I liked this book when I read it, I liked it even more listening to it.

This series is great. Complex and ever-evolving. Dean does a good job with the narration and, in particular, this book really shines. If you’re a fan of audios and paranormal, then definitely check this out.

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