raven part 2 coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Raven, Part Two continues the story started in Book One and the books should be read in order. The story also connects to events and series arcs from the other Forbidden Desires series books and, as the final installment, is best read by those familiar with the series.

It has been years since Bertram and his mate, Sorin, have seen one another in person. With Sorin’s deadly magic so unpredictable, the men must continue to live separate lives, as they have for hundreds of years and almost their entire relationship. Sorin is using this time to continue to lead the Vanguard, working to free omegas from the Pedigree and to help them move forward to new lives. Bertram continues to live a double life, outwardly working as an agent for the dragon council and secretly helping Sorin with the Vanguard from a distance. The situation is proving to be a strain on both men. Bertram so wants to be with his mate and struggles between obligations to his family and the council, and being with the man he loves. And as Sorin continues to work tirelessly on behalf of omegas, his mental health begins to take a toll, particularly without Bertram at his side.

The situation takes a turn when the dragons discover more about what makes an omega succeed in bearing a clutch. When they decide to undertake a mating experiment to test their findings, it galvanizes the Vanguard further, as they can’t bear the idea of even more omegas being forced to breed with dragons. When the Vanguard’s fight takes a dangerous turn and leaves them in disarray, Sorin feels like he has no choice but to step in and take on the cause single-handedly. He finds himself facing off against the Drakes themselves, making Sorin feel the need to distance himself from Bertram further to protect his mate’s safety.

Sorin is the most important person in the world to Bertram, and he determined not to let Sorin push him away. The two men finally have an opportunity to reconnect and begin re-building their life together. But after Sorin’s dangerous attacks on the dragon world, finding a safe place to land won’t be easy. Now, Sorin and Bertram must decide what they want from their future together and just maybe take a few risks that could lead to long-term happiness.

This book concludes Sorin and Bertram’s story and nicely ties things up for all the Drakes. While the first book focused on years prior to the rest of the series timeline, this second half overlaps with the other books. Here we get to see major events from those books happening from Sorin and Bertram’s point of view, which I found a really interesting twist. The men have a very different perspective on things like the mating experiment, which was something so positive to the other Drakes, but is a terrifying example of further omega oppression to Sorin and Bertram. So this story gives a chance to see things through a new lens. We also learn how Sorin and the Vanguard have been secretly involved in various things that happened in the other books, such as when Misha’s eggs are taken, or Hugh’s ball is interrupted. The authors really did a fabulous job as they crafted this series, dropping little bread crumbs along they way about “Raven” and giving us a sense of his exploits. As we got further into the series, we start to learn more about him, but it isn’t until these last two books that we really learn all that has been happening. It makes for a lot of cleverness and “aha” moments as we get to look behind the curtain and learn about what has been going on with Sorin and Bertram all along. So I found it all very clever and quite entertaining.

The other side of that coin, however, is that through Sorin’s eyes, we see the dragon world as a cruel and unpleasant place. It is not just the men who abused him personally, but all dragons who think nothing of using omegas to meet their needs without giving a second thought to their lives, their desires, or how they are being treated. Time and again we hear about or see awful dragon behavior. So it sort of threw me at times that these men who are the heroes of the prior books are villains of sorts here, and events that we saw as victories (like the mating experiment) are actually just another example of omega abuse. It was hard to reconcile these two opposing viewpoints about the same dragon characters who we were supposed to be rooting for in past books. We also see Sorin act horribly and violently at times here, truly harming and scaring people. And in the prior stories, Raven is the villain, doing these terrible things, but now he we are supposed to see him as the good guy. So while I really enjoyed the way we get this alternate look at events, the right and wrong of everyone’s actions got thrown a little out of whack for me.

Things come together nicely for Bertram and Sorin here, though it takes a while to get there. The men are separated for a large portions of the book, and after being apart at the end of the last book, I was missing the interaction between them. They are barely even able to speak to one another for fear of discovery, so there is not much opportunity to see their relationship develop. I wish we could have seen more between them on page during their time apart, even if it was just getting some glimpses at the letters we are told they write one another. But I did really love how things come together for them in the end and the way we see them building their future. I also appreciated that we see Sorin get some help for his mental health, with which he has been struggling since the beginning of their story. And I loved the way we get a nice wrap up for all the Drakes and how Sorin and Bertram finally are able to be a part of this big, loving family.

I found these final two books a great way to wrap up the journey of this series. It was fun to see how the little moments here and there in the prior books provide a tease for events here. And I loved the way Sorin and Bertram’s actions pave the way for a better dragon world. Things come together nicely both for Sorin and Bertram, and for all the characters we met along the way.

 

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