Werewolves Charles and Anna are back in a new adventure in Aspen Creek, Montana. When a distress call sends them into the mountains to check on an isolated pair of pack mates, they are plunged into a dangerous battle. A new enemy appears to be targeting the wildlings, the pack’s unstable and isolated wolves, while their alpha is away. Charles and Anna and the rest of the Aspen Creek Clan are on the case. They must now figure out who is attacking the clan, what exactly they want, and how they seem to posses confidential information that only select insiders would know.
While trying to suss out what’s going on, the reader is reintroduced to the Aspen Creek pack members and re-familiarized with the dynamics of the group. The last few Alpha and Omega books took place out on the road, so it’s been a long time since we’ve read about Charles and Anna being home. As such, it’s easy to be super rusty on who the cast of characters are and what a reader is supposed to remember from previous entries. Briggs does a pretty good job of catching her readers up, but it’s disconcerting at the start.
On the plus side, this book gives a lot more page time to Leah, Bran’s mate, than other books have. She’s often just been a bitchy side character but she’s fleshed out more here than ever before and it’s a highlight of the book. Another aspect of the book that worked particularly well is Anna’s use of her Omega powers. She’s come a long way and it was great to see her learning from mistakes and learning to focus and concentrate her abilities. They aren’t magic powers that work without consequences.
I have to admit that the long-time gap since I last read a book in this series had an effect on my reading. I am finding myself a lot more discontented with the tone than I have previously. It’s on the darker side for mainstream paranormal fantasy and urban fantasy and the brutalization of female characters is a well Briggs dips into more than I like.
The setup of the werewolf packs is an aspect of these stories that has always bothered me and I felt it keenly here. I’ve read my fair share of werewolf romances and my favorites are the ones where there is a strong sense of togetherness and protectiveness. That’s just not Briggs’ style. Her packs, even the relatively stable ones, are rife with sanctioned emotional and physical abuse disguised as “dominance rules” and it’s difficult to read. There’s a particularly rough section near the beginning of this book where Charles relates an anecdote in which his father engaged in a battle of wills with a stubborn eight year old that’s disturbing as hell and I’m not sure what purpose it served other than to make me think that all werewolf leaders are abusive shits. If there was another point, I didn’t get it.
The pacing of this book had problems. It was hard to see where things were going or why they were going in certain directions. There was a point where I rolled my eyes and declared “Oh, goodie. A tangent in a tangent. Just what I wanted.” Ultimately, Briggs does deliver and satisfactorily wraps up the story while setting up future conflict. I’m just not certain that this story and these characters are ones I particularly want to keep following. I rage quit the Mercy Thompson series about five or six books in and I’ve read nothing that makes me second guess that decision. I’m not in rage mode yet, but I’m not convinced that I’m invested enough to stick with this series much longer. I suppose we’ll see.
Read Veena’s review here.
They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.
With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…
Other books in this series: