I first started reading Patricia Briggs when she was writing traditional fantasy, but her first forays into urban fantasy with the Mercy Thompson books are some of my favorites. Now, several years later, I think I like the Alpha and Omega series even better. It does have the rare distinction of being about a rock-solid, established couple. It is a unique dynamic in urban fantasy, and indeed in many other genres. (There is the In Death series by J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts, but no others come immediately to my mind.)
Dead Heat develops the situation that started in Fair Game. The Fae have started a war with humanity, and the werewolves are caught in the middle, allies with both sides. While the book does briefly cover the backstory so far, it isn’t overly friendly with new readers. It expects you to be familiar with the world, which I think is fair for a novel that is not only not the first in the series, but not the first in a spin-off series.
It is, however, a novel that is very rewarding to long-time readers of the series. Dead Heat delves into Charles’s past by introducing an old friend, Joseph. Charles and Anna go to stay on his ranch because Anna’s birthday is coming up and Charles thinks a horse would be good, meaningful gift. The good-friend-that-we’ve-never-heard-of-before is a bit cheesy, but it does work better with Charles than many characters, since he is a person that holds things close to the chest. Letting Anna learn more about Charles’s past, connections, and hobbies is a great way to deepen their relationship and put them on an ever more equal footing. (The books never forget that Anna is much younger than Charles and that it is an issue that needs to be addressed to make the relationship work.) Of course, one of Joseph’s family members is also an ex.
But Dead Heat isn’t all relationship drama. Going to Joseph’s ranch puts them oh-so-perfectly in the way of the Fae’s first salvo in the war. I really enjoyed the opening scenes that focus on how insidious the first Fae released on humans is. It starts as a normal scene of a mother picking up her children from school, but starts going more and more wrong. It is wonderfully creepy and tense. While the rest of the action in Dead Heat is well done, it never quite reaches the same nail-biting intensity again.
I like that FBI Agent Leslie Fisher, introduced in Fair Game, is back again. The Alpha and Omega series could use more human characters, especially if they’re representing one half of a war. It also makes sense to have reoccurring law enforcement, since Charles and Anna often get involved in mysteries with a preternatural component as werewolf ambassadors. I hope Leslie continues to appear in future novels.
I think Dead Heat is an extremely satisfying entry in one of my favorite series. I am very much looking forward to the fifth book, as things move ever closer to open war.
Praised as “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal,”* the Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…
For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal–or at least it starts out that way…
Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.
*Rex Robot Reviews
Read an excerpt here.
Other books in this series: