3.5 stars (rounded up for a different take on an Alpha/omega relationship)
Tagline 2: Alpha captain of a starship discovers his beloved but missing brother to be held in enemy captivity where the torture has damaged him at a fundamental level
Synopsis: Captain Korden Encarit of the North Star thought he’d lost the most important person in the universe to him – his brother and lover, Rennett. A year later, Rennett has been found alive, a captive on a hostile planet. Only when their sibling link reactivates does Korden realize how bad the damage is: stripped of his mental strength, Rennett is now a Broken Alpha. With the help of his friends, Korden must try and heal his brother’s mind and help him adjust to his new status as omega. But Rennett needs a mate, and it quickly becomes clear that no one is willing. Will Korden give up everything he has worked for – his career, his ship – buck Presidian tradition, and risk the scorn of their father to save his brother?
Review: This novella includes a fresh, unique, and provocative take on traditional Alpha/Omega roles, centering on an Alien race where one Alpha brother is “broken” and becomes an Omega due to a long period of torture. I found the setting and the initial exploration of the characters to be somewhat fascinating, perhaps a bit more emotional than I usually expect among Alpha males, but definitely intriguing and enjoyable. The rescue and caring for the “Broken Alpha” (who was tortured from Alpha to Omega) was also interesting but not quite as compelling.
The method of how the characters healed and resolved these strains was not as gripping as I would have liked – it seemed a bit too expository more than riveting, although the basic actions and ideas in the resolution were certainly somewhat novel and compelling.
Technically, the two protagonists were brothers, so people interested in “brocest” will see a theme that touches on that type of pairing. In reality, if that idea squeaks one out too much, the “genetic brothers” theme is really not central (and the story would not read very differently if they were simply two Alpha best friends who formerly had only formed a deep emotional and sexual but not permanently mated bond.)
The recovery included an brief introduction to the need to be controlled, hurt and dominated, and quickly acknowledges a laundry-list of BDSM-type activities and needs (without very little graphic depiction). Those looking repeated anddetailed BDSM scenes will be disappointed, and those squicked out by BDSM themes might not appreciate the ending. To me, the “Broken Alpha’s” need to submit to control and pain made sense, and the realization and acknowledgement of this need in the pair was interesting if a bit brief. The story touches on slipping into the submissive cravings and the exploration of how “submissive space” filled essential needs. While not quite as thorough or detailed as I would have preferred, I do commend the author for tackling this approach to BDSM (as I know many “real-life” submissives who use a trip into BDSM “sub-space” as an extremely cathartic release from past, abusive powerlessness).
Recommended for fans of: Alpha/Omega themes in an alien setting; Caretaker Alphas; rescue and recovery from abuse via BDSM.