wolf mate coverRating: 3.75 stars
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Length: Novel


Ross Starling is very much looking for his fated mate. As a witch, Ross is sure his shifter familiar is out there and he would love to find him. So much so that he is headed to his third mate-seeking event where witches and familiar kiss to see if they can trigger the fated mate bond.

Brandon Wineford is a shifter with no desire for a mate. He doesn’t have any confidence in relationships lasting, and he definitely doesn’t want to create a permanent bond with someone only to have things fall apart. He is bartending at the mate-seeking party as a favor to his friend, but Brandon has no intention of kissing anyone and taking any chances.

When he meets Ross, Brandon can’t help but find the man attractive. While he doesn’t want any kissing, Brandon still is happy to take the other man up on a night of hot fun. For his part, something in Ross just knows that things are meant to be between him and Brandon, but he will respect Brandon’s wishes to keep kissing off the table.

After their night together, the guys aren’t quite ready to let things end. But with Ross living in another city, it’s going to be difficult to be able to continue exploring a relationship. Now, Ross and Brandon have to decide if they are willing to take a chance on something more… and if they will be brave enough to tempt a kiss and find out what fate has in store for them.

Wolf Mate is the fourth book in T.J. Nichols’ Outcast Pack series. While Brandon is a member of the pack, this one definitely stands alone much more than the first three, as there is none of the larger series arc here and very little interaction with other pack mates. That said, some familiarity with this larger world (and/or the Familiar Mates series) will be a help here as this one is really focused on the witch/shifter bond, which is a key part of the series.

This story is a little shorter than some of the others and takes a bit of a different slant. Often in these two series we have the men accidentally triggering a bond and then dealing with the aftermath. In this case, Ross is actively seeking a bond, going so far as to attend events where witches and shifters can try to find their mates by kissing one another (thus kicking off the mate bond if they are fated to be together). Meanwhile, Brandon is totally not interested in a mate, having sworn off relationships. So the guys are having this hot night together, all while intentionally avoiding kissing. After reading so many books set in this world, it was fun to get a little bit of a different approach here.

There is a nice heat and connection between Brandon and Ross that comes through well. The timeline here is short and, after their night together, the guys have to decide if they will see each other again and when/if they will kiss and test fate. Things felt a little rushed for me toward the end, as most of the story is the party and then their hookup, and so the aftermath and how things play out in the future doesn’t get much page time. A key event happens in the epilogue, which I think would have worked better for me if we had more time for some relationship development in the main story.

Overall, however, I found this a nice installment in this series. Nichols has created a fun world here and I enjoy seeing how the different mated pairs find their way together.

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