Kace has struggled with painful heats that his doctor thinks might be Heat Repulsion, his body’s attempt to stop him from mating with anyone other than his true match. The solution is finding his fated mate, but that’s easier said than done, so Kace’s doctor recommends the Perfect Match Agency. The company uses a complex analysis of personality, preferences, and pheromones to make their matches and they have a great success rate, so Kace agrees to give it a shot. He is matched with Morgan, a wealthy businessman who is also seeking a partner. Unfortunately, however, there is no spark between the men. But Kace finds himself unable to get Morgan’s assistant, Storm, out of his head.
Storm has watched Morgan have date after failed date. The guy is too nice and is constantly taken advantage of by omegas using him for his money. When Morgan has yet another date meet him at the office, Storm can’t help but be skeptical in the face of Morgan’s optimism. Storm knows how omegas manipulate alphas and he has no desire to get involved with one himself. Storm reserves his hookups for fellow alphas, but something about Kace grabs his attention and won’t let go. Storm has no idea why he is obsessing over Morgan’s date, but for days later he still can’t get him out of his head. Storm smells Kace everywhere and he can’t concentrate and can barely sleep with his desire for the man.
Kace is feeling the same connection to Storm and, while it seems clear the guy doesn’t really like him, Kace knows he has to do something about the situation. He talks to Morgan, who is happy to broker a meeting, and Kace and Storm decide they have to pursue whatever is going on between them. The connection is so strong, however, that the men realize it is triggering Storm’s rut and Kace’s heat and they have to act quickly. The guys have no choice but to ride it out together. But when the dust settles and Kace and Storm are past the crisis, they need to figure out if this is a momentary connection, or if there is a way they can find a permanent bond with one another.
Chance Match is the second book in the multi-author Perfect Match Agency series. The books connect in that they all feature the matching agency, however, the stories are meant to stand alone. Having read and enjoyed the first in this collection, Cautious Match by Roe Horvat, I was interested to see how another author would approach a story in this world. I think Rathbone does a nice job here giving this one a clever twist, in that the original matched mates, Morgan and Kace, don’t end up being our ultimate couple. It was a nice way to give a different spin on the set up with the agency, but still use that as an inciting point to get Kace and Storm to meet one another. I appreciated that Morgan isn’t made out to the villain here, but instead he is a truly nice guy who is thrilled for the other two when they realize they are the true match.
This story has somewhat of an enemies to lovers element in that Storm is very clear about his distaste for omegas and has no intention of ever finding a mate. So he has nothing against Kace personally, but he paints all omegas with the same negative brush and he is openly hostile to Kace. Storm feels like omegas use their “wiles” to trap alphas. Just a couple of Storm’s thoughts on omegas:
I don’t really like omegas. To me, they were schemers, using their wiles to get away with everything and anything when it came to alphas.
“They are raised that way. They know they can wrap us around their little fingers and they use that to their advantage. When they are finished getting what they want, they find another.”
We don’t learn just what has made Storm so bitter and jaded toward omegas until late in the book, but it ends up feeling like a lot of nothing to me, honestly. It basically boils down to his teenage boyfriend breaking up with him and now, so many years later, he is still not over it. Not only not over it, but holding a grudge and nasty attitude toward all omegas because of it. Unfortunately, the story never really adequately deals with all this. Storm is anti-omega and anti-Kace until their pheromones take over and they have days of hot sex, after which things are fine between them. We never see Storm admit his mistakes or address his prejudices. We don’t even hear the story about his past from him, it is just recounted in passing through Kace as something Storm told him. So instead of a powerful moment of learning about Storm’s painful past and then seeing him grow, the incident feels overblown and he never shows any signs of having learned or changed in any way. All of that left me feeling kind of blah about these two together because Storm doesn’t like Kace until they have sex, then suddenly all is fine. However, we never see them really developing their relationship and many of the conversations where they are getting to know each other don’t appear on page. So I had trouble transitioning from Storm as this rude, prejudiced against omegas guy to what was supposed to be a loving and caring partner.
The men pairing up for heat is the real focus of the story, but we do see some aftermath later on in their relationship, including Kace delivering a child. So be aware that mpreg exists in this world and we do have detailed scenes of labor and childbirth.
I think this story does a nice job of providing an interesting set up into this shared world with a nice twist in the way the main couple comes together. Rathbone does a good job hitting the series beats, as well as with the omegaverse world building. But I did struggle finding a connection with Storm after the way he behaves and don’t think the story addresses this head on enough to ever really feel like he has grown or changed the way I would have wanted. That said, the authors have more books coming in this world, so I will be keeping an eye on this shared series and likely will pop back in for some of the future books.