phoenix mate coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel


Kaine Lenoir is doing his best to keep things together as the Shadow Board continues to gain strength. Dalmon is fighting the Board in England, and Gerrit is still recovering from the assassination attempt, and Everest is working undercover trying to infiltrate the Board. That means that Kaine, as Mont de Leucoy’s Chief of Security and the only one of his brothers outside the royal family in this lifetime, has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders as they work to figure out the Board’s next steps and stop them before it leads to disaster. Kaine barely gives himself a moment’s rest, but he when he feels a spark with the hot bartender while having dinner, he decides to enjoy some quick fun with the man.

Quentin Silverbrook didn’t expect the hot guy at the bar to actually be interested in his flirting, but he is glad to be taken up on his offer. At least until Kaine takes him to a fancy hotel and Quentin realizes just how rich and important Kaine actually is. Not to mention that Kaine is in charge of the nation’s security, and Quentin currently has a big secret — he is being blackmailed and forced to spy on the building across the street from the bar in exchange for his mother’s life. But learning more about Kaine isn’t the biggest shock. That comes when Kaine realizes that Quentin is not human, he is in fact a witch with mind reading abilities. And even more surprising, Quentin and Kaine are fated mates.

Kaine can’t believe he found his fated mate, and of course it is right in the middle of the crisis with the Shadow Board. Kaine can’t say he hates the idea, even as he never dared hope it might happen for him. But Quentin is an untrained witch totally unfamiliar with this world and he has a lot to catch up on if Kaine has a hope of keeping him safe. Kaine would love to take time to spend with Quentin and get to know him better, but things are reaching a fever pitch with the fight against the Shadow Board and Kaine needs to give it all his focus. The Shadow Board always seems one step ahead and knowing who to trust is almost impossible. Now that Kaine and Quentin have found one another, they must hope that they make it out of the latest fight with their lives.

Phoenix Mate is the third book in T.J. Nichols’ Brothers of Fire series, following a group of phoenix shifters hiding as the royal family of the tiny country of Mont de Leucoy. The books each feature a different couple, but the series has an overarching suspense plot and the books are best read in order (check out my review of the first book, Phoenix Spy, to start the series and get more background on how it connects with Nichols’ larger world). Kaine has been an interesting side character for the first two books, as the one non-royal among the group (at least in this current life) and the one who is often the “fixer” of their security problems, so I enjoyed a chance to get to know him better here.

The story starts off with a hot hook up between Kaine and Quentin and the men have a strong connection right away. Quentin has no idea he is a witch or that his ability to sense what others are thinking is actually magic, which means Kaine never even considers there might be a potential mate bond. Once he realizes that he and Quentin are connected, Kaine has to figure out both how to bring Quentin into this paranormal world, but also how to protect him now that he is caught up in all the Shadow Board business. As the head of security, Kaine knows his mate will certainly be at risk to those seeking to hurt him — not to mention that if Kaine dies, Quentin will as well. Both of these guys have a sense of loneliness and so it is rewarding to see them find someone who cares for them and wants them in return. I appreciated that the blackmail situation doesn’t turn into a big secret between the men. They are open with each other once they realize they are mates and the story is more focused on them working together than hiding anything. Still, Quentin is new to this world and new to his magic and so he needs some time to really come to terms with the situation. I did wish for more time to explore the relationship, as once the guys know they are mates early on, the focus shifts more to the suspense plot. While there is still a connection developing, a lot of that is sort of happening behind the scenes and I wished for a little more time on the personal dynamic between them.

The other focus of the book is on what’s happening with the Shadow Board. After failing to assassinate Gerrit, they are likely to be coming up with new plans of attack and Kaine is trying to be ready, as well as anticipate their next move. Things don’t really heat up until later in the book, but we get some intense new revelations that really shake things up and sets everything up nicely for the next book. I was surprised at what we learn, but it also makes sense with what we know about these characters so far this series. The stage is set for a lot of excitement in the Everest’s book, which is coming next, and I am really eager to continue on with the series.

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