Series name: The Vampire’s Mate
Author: Grae Bryan
Genre: MM Paranormal Romance (vampire romance!)
Gabe Kingman has never been great with his emotions. His disastrous personal life is evidence enough of that. Returning to be a doctor in his small Colorado hometown was supposed to bring him closer to his family, not push them even further away. He’s been slowly working to repair the mistakes he’s made, but his efforts aren’t made any easier by the new existence of vampires in his world. Especially one pesky, annoyingly beautiful vampire in particular.
Soren Iversen never meant to stay in Hyde Park this long. He hasn’t kept himself alive for centuries by letting himself be a sitting duck. But instead of moving on months ago, he’s been kicking his heels in the most boring town in the world, hoping for one stubborn, annoyingly compelling human to pay him even a bit of attention.
When circumstances force the two of them together, Soren’s obsession and Gabe’s unwilling attraction are brought to a head. But Soren has been running for a reason, and the skeletons in his closet threaten to tear the couple apart before they can even begin.
SOREN IS A HEATED, FATED-MATES MM PARANORMAL ROMANCE WITH A HEA AND NO CLIFFHANGER. IT CONTAINS A STUBBORN, EMOTIONALLY-REPRESSED ICU DOCTOR, AND A BRATTY, SLIGHTLY UNHINGED VAMPIRE NOT AFRAID TO STALK A MAN TO GET WHAT HE WANTS. IT ALSO CONTAINS STEAMY SCENES BETWEEN TWO MEN, AND THE MODERATE VIOLENCE (AND MENTIONS OF BLOOD) THAT ONE MIGHT EXPECT FROM A VAMPIRE ROMANCE. THIS BOOK CAN BE READ AS A STANDALONE, BUT THE SERIES IS BEST ENJOYED IN ORDER.
Soren leaned his head back, peering up at Gabe. “What are you looking for, then?”
Gabe smiled. “I’m not looking for anything. I’m just—I just like having you around. You’re better than any hypothetical angel, brat.”
Soren scowled at him. “Cheesy,” he accused. “Way too cheesy for words. You should be ashamed.”
But he didn’t step out of Gabe’s arms.
What I loved:
This book follows Gabe (Danny’s brother) and Soren (one of Roman’s oldest friends) as they find their way to each other. Gabe does NOT like vampires and Soren—who is very much a vampire—is helplessly drawn to Gabe. Both of them spend the first half of the book fighting against the mate bond that should have been patently obvious to them from the get-go.
Honestly, I swear I could have clobbered both of these guys over the head with something solid and heavy! They’re both so dang stubborn! Especially Gabe (don’t even get me started…sheesh). They’re lovable, but stubborn as all get out. They’ve been resisting each other for a full year by the time the book starts!
However, when Gabe agrees to dog-sit for Danny and Roman’s dog while they go on their long-delayed honeymoon, he finds himself in close proximity to Soren (who now lives with Roman and Danny). The adhesion wouldn’t have worked with any other characters, but it works here because Gabe and Soren secretly WANT to be together, and it was so obvious from the very beginning and very cute to read.
No spoilers, but when Soren demonstrates to Gabe that he’s not (just) a scary vampire but also a kind and loving person, things really get going. This act of kindness changed everything between them. Mostly by doing away with Gabe’s resistance to Soren. Just as important, though, this event also made Soren realize that Gabe is a man with emotions every bit as complex and nuanced as his own. I think that Soren hadn’t really seen Gabe’s depth beforehand. Because Gabe is demonstrably complex, I think it gave Soren more permission to open up and really put his cards on the table.
Overall, I think this was very well done.
It’s extra important when writing a fated mates story, in my humble (but completely correct) opinion, to demonstrate the characters falling in love the old-fashioned way as well. Yes, there’s a mate bond. Yes, there’s an undeniable attraction. Yes, destiny is shoving them together. But that works as a spark—it shouldn’t replace the relationship itself. The characters still need to grow together and become capable of giving and receiving love. Grae Bryan’s books, despite being fated mates, all have an old-fashioned love story at their core. Honestly, this author kind of shuts the game down when it comes to how to effectively write a fated mates series.
Despite wanting to throttle the characters early and often throughout the story, I loved this book. The relationship that developed between Soren and Gabe wasn’t as easy as what blossomed between Roman and Danny, but it was every bit as beautiful and perhaps even sweeter because it WASN’T as easy.
It wound up being steamy, with multiple not-safe-for-work scenes sprinkled throughout the story. As a big fan of delightfully smutty books, I didn’t mind a bit.
And then there’s Jay…he’s introduced as a secondary character in this book, but I fell in love with him the very first time he wound up on the page. Very “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” vibes, but in a good way. He’s one of my favorite characters and I adored the way he helped deepen (and soften) Soren for me.
Then the book hit me in the feels when Gabe demonstrates just how much he loves Soren (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there). Even though I saw this coming from a mile away, it still melted my heart.
Some might feel the climax was a bit dark, but I thought it was completely appropriate for the story. Maybe I’m a little dark myself, but what ends up happening to the bad guy made me unreasonably happy.
Overall, I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes MM paranormal romance, especially about vampires. You can get it here.