“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ― Joseph Campbell
Title: Protective Mate (Holland Brothers #3)
Author: Toni Griffin
Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Pages/Word Count: 50,250 Words
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Life isn’t meant to be easy, but for Zachary Bennet the last two years have been downright hell. The one shining light in his life, his precious daughter, Hayley. Deciding he needs a clean break, Zack gets a new job in a small town called Leyburn in the hopes they can settle down and live a peaceful life.
Between worry over one brother’s increasingly erratic behaviour and constantly walking in on the other two making out with their mates, Simon Holland is ready to pull his hair out. All he’d ever wanted in life was a mate and a family. When his wish is finally answered with Zack’s arrival, Simon finds out first-hand how far hate and bigotry can drive some people. But life wasn’t meant to be easy and Simon would protect what was his to the end.
Review: I read the original versions of these books in the series over two years ago. I was very excited to see that Toni Griffin was expanding and reediting the entire series. I read the first two and was blown away with the improvement, and I couldn’t wait to read Zack and Simon’s story.
In this new version, we get a glimpse into Zack’s childhood. We are there when he meets his best friend in the whole world, Sarah Stewart. We are there when she finds out he is a werewolf, we are there when she supports Zack when he comes out, and we are there when she tells her family to pound sand for hating Zack because he is gay. The hardest part for me was the day they found out she was dying, and they cried together. When Zack is asked to give her the gift of a child before she dies, how can he say no?
After Zack and Sarah make this decision to have a child, it seems everything falls apart. He loses his parents in a car accident, and Sarah’s parents disown her and the unborn baby. The only good thing to come of the whole situation is Hayley. Unfortunately for Zack and Hayley, Sarah didn’t live long enough to see her second birthday. After she passes, her parents, who have never even met Hayley, do their best to take her away from Zack. When he eventually wins the court battle for custody, Zack knows he has to move out of town or be harassed constantly by the couple. He sells his home, keeps only the bare minimum of his possessions, and moves himself and Hayley as far away as possible.
When Zack arrives in Leyburn, he had no idea that checking in with the local Alpha would change his life forever.
Simon Holland has been going crazy, with all the happy mated couples in the house. He is tired of finding his brothers and their mates making out every time he turns around. If he is honest, most of the upset is caused by jealousy. Simon wants to find his mate, how long is he going to have to wait? When he returns from a run to clear his head, he can’t believe that not only is his mate standing right in front of him, but his other dream of having a child is coming true all at the same time.
Simon and Zack decide to take things slowly, even though they want to seal the deal as soon as possible. Zack doesn’t want to rush anything where Hayley is concerned, and Simon realizes this is a good idea. The two men actually go through a very sweet courtship and Zack survives meeting Simon’s parents when they run into them on their first date.
The entire family accepts Zack and Hayley into the fold immediately, and Simon’s mom is overjoyed to have her first grandcub. It doesn’t take long for Simon and Zack to make things official with their mating. Zack and Hayley move in and just as they are starting to settle in, Hayley’s other grandparents reappear. The entire Holland clan will have to band together save Simon’s family from hate and bigotry like they have never seen before.
I have to say as much as I loved the series the first time around, this newly expanded version is just that much better. I feel like I am getting to know the characters better, and there is much more history revealed, which draws me into the story even more.
The final chapter of this book reveals a HUGE secret that will be expanded on in the next book, and I cannot wait to read it. I highly recommend this book and the entire series. I am completely hooked on the Holland brothers and their families.