Zachary Perry has rented a cabin in the woods, despite not being an outdoorsy type. He needs to get away from the city, and the constant headaches it gives him, in order to focus on finishing his book and his dietician program. He finds peace there, but that’s not all. His next door neighbor is the incredibly attractive Roan, and Zachary hatches an in-depth plan to get Roan’s attention. After a lot of research, and purchasing the required items, Zachary heads out on what is supposed to be a short hike so that he can be the kind of man Roan clearly is.
Roan is a forest guardian. His territory is vast, and he takes great care in his job caring for the trees, flora, and fauna under his care. He’s also attracted to Zachary, but he knows he can’t reveal himself to the human, so he’s at a loss as to how to approach the man. When the trees tell Roan that Zachary is in trouble, he races off to help him, which sparks the attraction between them and begins their relationship. Roan is so drawn to Zachary, he suspects Zachary is his mate. But before he can work out details, Roan has to rescue another man in trouble, and he ends up revealing his true nature to Zachary because he needs help.
All things told, Zachary accepts the news pretty well, and begins a quest for knowledge. But shortly after they mate, something dark enters the woods and Roan has to leave Zachary in order to find out what it is. But Zachary is not content to be left behind, and knows he needs to find his mate. The catastrophe that has befallen the forest is great, and the danger is even bigger than either man suspects. It leads Roan and Zachary to the Smith Pack. Nick readily welcomes them in, but Roan can’t stay.
Leaving his mate is the hardest thing he’s ever done. But they vow it’s not the end to them, and that they will somehow figure out a way to make it work. It’s a rough time, but Zachary finds friends among the pack while Roan is away. In the end, the magic that brought them together and the love that they have found will lead them to the place that they were meant to be.
I Kid You Not is the third book in the Magical Mates series, which is a spin-off series in Macy Blake’s Chosen One universe. It does need to be read in order with the series, as a portion of the timeline is concurrent to the previous book. It also works best, in my opinion, when read in order with the larger universe stories, but that’s not strictly necessary. This book is also a reimagined version of a short story Blake previously released as part of an anthology. There is a name change to one of the MCs, and only small parts of the original are present here, so rest assured it’s basically like a whole new book.
This story is in-line with Blake’s larger world building, although it introduces a whole new type of paranormal that we’ve never seen before. Many of the elements that the author has built throughout this extensive world are present and consistent. There is a huge cast of secondary characters, many of whom readers know and love, so it’s always nice to see them again. But that’s also one of the reasons that it really does need to be read in order.
I really enjoyed Zachary. He’s funny, sassy, and inquisitive in the extreme. He fits right in with the larger world, and easily slots in with Ollie, who is a favorite secondary character. His connection with Roan is nice to see. Their chemistry sparked and sizzled, though it relies very heavily on the “fated mates fall in love super fast” element. For me, it wasn’t quite as believable as some of Blake’s other pairings, but at least they had chemistry. Roan, for his part, is incredibly dedicated to his duty, and I liked that that translated to other parts of his life. He’s a caretaker by nature, ingrained in his very soul, and that shows through in many way. Together, these guys make a great couple.
I also really liked how they ultimately fit into the Smith Pack. To be fair, Nick is one of my favorite characters that this author has created, and I love his gruff exterior and the front he puts on, while absolutely and completely taking care of his people. I thought it was a creative twist about how Roan and Zachary find their place with the pack, and how they take to their new roles.
I will say, however, that the first third of this book was a slow going for me. There were a few scenes that felt a bit disjointed and it took time for me to really get lost in the book. As the action picked up, I definitely became more invested. I think part of that was knowing certain scenes would be coming, as these two characters were introduced at a pivotal moment in Stop Kidding Around, and in the back of my brain I was waiting for this to happen. Seeing it from Zachary and Roan’s POV heightened things, and then the rest of the book took off from there. I really enjoyed the second half of this book
All in all, I think this is a nice addition to the series, and the universe at large. While perhaps not my favorite thus far, there were certain plot points and elements I really enjoyed. I did like the characters a lot, especially Zachary, and I like that Blake manages to set things up for the next book without it overshadowing the events of the current storyline. If you’re reading the series/universe, then this one is not to be missed.