book cover for "Johann", vampire's mate #4

Book Review: Johann (Vampire’s Mate #4)

Title: Johann

Series: Vampire’s Mate #4

Author: Grae Bryan



Alexei is lost. On the run from his criminal family, hiding out in Hyde Park, he has no idea what the point or purpose of his life is anymore. Until he’s served coffee by a strange young man, one whom Alexei can’t get out of this head. And when Alexei realizes his favorite barista isn’t quite human after all, his obsession only deepens. Can he use this new knowledge to get even closer to the sweet, strange vampire of his dreams?

Jay is lonely. He has his friends (so nice!) and his job at the coffee shop (so fun!) but he knows he doesn’t really belong in Hyde Park, not for keeps. And yet, he can’t help wanting to pretend, especially with his new favorite regular, a handsome human who smells divine and watches Jay like he really matters. Alexei might just be the nicest thing to happen to Jay since he can remember, even more so when the human generously offers himself up for dinner.

But Jay’s past is complicated, and certain promises have been made. Can he and Alexei weather the storm that tracks him down, or will Jay’s new life be taken away from him before it can really begin?

Johann is a heated, fated-mates MM paranormal romance with an HEA and no cliffhanger. It contains a sweet, cinnamon roll vampire and the stoic, obsessed human who will do anything to stay by his side. It also contains steamy scenes between two men, and the moderate violence (and mentions of blood) that one might expect from a vampire romance. While each book focuses on a different couple, the series is best enjoyed in order.

Alexei smiled against Jay’s skin. “You never need to apologize for your responses to my touch, kitten. Let’s get you ready for me, hm?”

“Is that–is that not what you were doing?”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Alexei crooned. “That part was just for me.”

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So, I’m pretty sure that if you were somehow able to turn sunshine into a book, you’d end up with something pretty close to Johann.

Johann (or, rather, Jay) is an incredible character to read and I loved every minute I spent with him. He’s 100% cinnamon roll and, because he lived for centuries in a vampire den that was extremely isolated from the rest of society, he’s a little clueless sometimes about how the world works. But it’s completely adorable and endearing, especially because he’s such a genuinely earnest character.

Then there’s Alexei, the human love interest…he’s Jay’s polar opposite in many ways, which makes the chemistry between them snap crackle and pop, without being snarky or cutting. He’s ex-mafia and on the run from the mob. So, naturally, in his efforts to hide away, he ends up in the small Colorado town that is now teeming with vampires. From the moment he meets Jay, he immediately starts crushing on him (Jay is working as a barista at the local coffee shop). Then he discovers that Jay is a vampire. You’d think most people would be alarmed to discover that their new crush is a supernatural creature. And Alexei is…but not for long. Then he falls obsessively, head-over-heels in love with Jay (not that anyone could blame him, really).

The relationship between Jay and Alexei is just about perfect. It’s sweet, protective, fun, and very endearing. One of the hands-down best parts about it is that Alexei doesn’t try to change Jay or ever make him feel even a little bit bad or “broken” for being a little out of step with the rest of the world (unlike some of the other characters, who do a fair bit of gentle teasing whenever Jay says something a little goofy or out of touch).

Johann, like most of the others in the series, is quite spicy, with a number of steamy scenes. The steamy parts are explicit, but they’re still very romantic and sweet (which is very much the tone for this story). Interestingly, these scenes they do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to characterizing both of the heroes, especially Alexei. Given that everything, especially sex, is pretty much brand new for Johann, we get to see a lot about who Alexei is when he’s gently and patiently guiding Jay through this brand-new experience. Once he learns that Jay has a bit of a praise kink and needs words of affirmation, he gives that to Jay early and often, both in and out of the bedroom. It was surprisingly wholesome, given that these were explicit scenes between two men in a story about vampires. Personally, I loved this so much because it came across as extremely emotionally healthy and nurturing.

The external conflict was…okay. It sets up the next book really nicely and there were a few legitimate moments where I was worried that Alexei and Jay might not get their happy ending. Not because the “bad guy” was really all that bad, but because of how genuine and authentic Jay is as a character, which is inevitably used against him. However, the external plot threads definitely don’t overtake the romance and the story stays closely focused on Jay and Alexei’s relationship. In my humble opinion, this is precisely how it should be.

Do yourself a favor and read this book. Actually, read the entire series if you haven’t already. If you like sweet & spicy vampire romance between very different heroes, you will love every part of this.

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