I knew after I read the first Mercy Thompson book that I was going to be a Patricia Briggs fan; she writes interesting, complex, female protagonists and sets her stories in livable worlds. I had been waiting and waiting for this latest installment of the Alpha and Omega series, since I didn’t want to break the paperback collection I have so far… and I’m on a tight budget these days. Then I discovered a funny thing: the mass market paperback is still scheduled for release next month, but there’s a “paperback” version available on Amazon. It has different cover art, and now that the book is in my hands, I suspect it’s the British print run of the series, but I can shelve it together with the others and that makes my OCD side happy.
They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.
Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can’t afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father’s dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.
Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…
I’ve loved Anna and Charles’ relationship from the beginning. It gives an entirely different perspective on living as a werewolf when there’s an Omega to keep things (relatively) calm. And Anna’s journey to strength and some measure of self-assurance is a wonderful thing to read, given her character’s history.
“Broken or whole,” she told him, her voice dropping to a growl, “you’re mine. Better not forget that again.”
Charles laughed–a small, happy sound. “All right. I surrender. Just don’t go after me with that rolling pin.”
Anna tugged the shirt down and smoothed it. “Then don’t do anything to deserve it.” She smacked him lightly on the shoulder. “That’s for disrespecting my grandmother’s rolling pin.”
He turned around to face her, wet hair in a tangled mess around his shoulders. Eyes serious, though his mouth was curved up, he said, “I would never disrespect your grandmother’s rolling pin. Your old pack did everything in their power to turn you into a victim, and when that crazy wolf started for me, you still grabbed the rolling pin to defend me from him, even though you were terrified of him. I think it is the braves thing I have ever seen. And possibly the only time anyone has tried to defend me since I reached adulthood.”
This story is much more romantic (in a non-traditional way) than the previous books in this series. This one starts at a point when the relationship is seriously frayed by the demands of Charles’ position. It’s a modern trial with mythic overtones, but so real in the ways we cut ourselves off from those we love (in the thought that we’re saving them from our pain!) it left me feeling heartsick for both of them for a good deal of the book.
And the ending… Now I’m uber-anxious for the next Mercy Thompson book to see how she evolves the rest of the world these packs inhabit.
So I continue to be an unabashed Briggs fan. Anyone who wants to read an engrossing mystery with the spin of werewolves and fae and vampires and other things that go bump in the night set as the backdrop to a clearly limned and extraordinarily sympathetic cast of characters would be well-advised to read this series. (And I’m admitting to a massive character crush on Charles, even though he–and I–are both clearly taken.)
This series and its sister series represent some of the best urban fantasy on the market to me, so if you like the genre, don’t hesitate to check it out.
Because Zoe Winters was generous enough to allow G L Drummond to guest post on her site during her blog tour last month, I got curious about what she wrote, and read a number of her blog entries. Sufficiently piqued, I was thus drawn into her series “Preturnaturals”–this first installment of which was actually the omnibus edition of three novellas. In the spirit of supporting an indie author who was supporting other indie authors, I went ahead and bought the eBook for myself (especially since her blog whetted my appetite for the rest of the stories with a free offer for the first novella, “Kept“.)
Typically, I’m not big on novellas; it only takes me an hour or two to plow through the tale (especially when, as in Winters’ case, the writing is well-done, and the plot-line tight) and if the story is engaging, I am done with the world almost as soon as I’m into it. In this case, that problem is mitigated by the existence of two follow-on stories, so I had an enjoyable night of reading.
This is definitely an adult novel, with explicit love scenes–and well-developed-enough characters to take them out of the “gratuitous sex” category. The three parts to the novel tie together through the friendships and rivalries of six individuals, who turn into three couples.
The first novella deals with a special kind of shifter who has reached the age that would have, in past times, meant she was sacrificed for the good of her tribe. Her mother is able to warn Greta about this impending doom, as well as give her cryptic directions to seek refuge with a known “evil” sorcerer. She is able to get him to agree to protect her in exchange for a sample of her blood, and the plot thickens from there.
The second act involves Greta’s close friend Charlee, and takes off on the events in the climactic scene of the first story. Now, a vampire Dayne (the sorcerer) had enlisted to help with Greta’s rescue needs to make amends for the results of his feeding frenzy. Anthony (the vampire) is old enough, and has spent enough of his long life avoiding entanglements, that it takes him most of the story to realize his uncharacteristic loss of control with Charlee speaks to deeper feelings than he generally accepts.
The third act tells the story of a supposed vampire-wannabe who was attached to a competing vampire in the “vampire games” Anthony had been focused on in the second story. Jane had been trying to hide in plain sight by attaching herself to vampires from the time she was 16 and discovered that her own antecedents included a vampire parent. She ends up being handed off to a werewolf to satisfy a gambling debt, and discovers there is a hidden benefit to the curse she’s lived with for so many years.
All three pieces tie together nicely, with the leitmotif of a woman who has been hiding some key element of her being, and consequently feels rather like an outsider. The resolution of that inner loneliness through the discovery of her perfect equal and opposite makes for meaty romantic entanglements, complete with the fraught tension of whether the woman can trust the man with her secrets and burdens–and discovers that she’s not alone in bearing the burden of loneliness. I would gladly recommend the novellas, and am looking forward to seeing how the novels continue.