Broken Alpha by D.C. Juris (review)

Tagline: Alien Alpha captain locates his captured, intimately linked Alpha brother who was tortured into becoming an Omega

Broken Alpha book cover

Title: Broken Alpha
AuthorD.C. Juris

Genre:  Male/Male Alpha/Omega Alien Romance
Format:  Novella (39k words)
Series: The Alpha/Omega Verse #1

Publisher: Torquere (Jan. 2016)
ISBN: 9781944449230

Retail: $3.99

Rating:   star  star  star   half-star  (I liked it a lot!)

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.

Sizzle:
Explicit Heat: fire fire fire fireExplicit scenes with some kink (but most of the kink is implied rather than detailed, and the brother theme seems rather muted)
Passion: heart heart heart heart – Definite passion between the brothers
Genre:  Adult Romance


Other Comments:
The second in the series is definitely kinkier, although not in quite the way I expected.
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Blowback by Lyn Gala

Blowback  Book Cover

Title: Blowback
Author: Lyn Gala
Genre:  Science Fiction Romance (M/F)
Format:  Novel (392 pages)
Book sites:  Author | Publisher Goodreads
Edition: 2nd Edition
Publisher: Loose ID (June 2015)
ISBN: 9781623009373

4.5 stars (out of 5)

Tagline:  Tough alpha male soldier submits to the crazy, strong, and blue alien woman

An amazing tale from one of my favorite authors, some of the writing was more difficult and slow than typically found in light romances, but the payoff in the end was absolutely worth it for me.   Lyn Gala writes a wide range of stories, including one of my absolute favorite m/m romances, Claimings Tails and Other Alien Artifactsa gently firm and a bit erotic exploration of a strong but submissive human man submitting to powerful alien.  Blowback  is an earlier work  by this author (although recently revised) with similar themes, except in this case the outwardly buff  human man with a submissive side is submitting to a powerful female alien.

Reading this work reminded me of the writing progression of another of my favorite m/m romance authors, Amy Lane.  Her early Little Goddess series, a paranormal erotic series (with a female protagonist) had a rough-edged but wild prose style that was engaging but perhaps a bit undisciplined, as well as highlighting some of the strengths we see in Ms. Lane’s later works.  I find a similar progression in Ms. Gala’s writing – her early work Blowback is a bit rough to get through at times but it showcases the author’s love of linguistics and cross-cultural communication issues that are so brilliantly built into her later Claimings series.  In short, I find in both of these authors’ early works plenty of genius a somewhat “rough around the edges” but still extremely engaging writing styles that are clearly honed to great effect in very enticing later works.

I read this genre primarily for escapist reads, so the alien (and traumatic) confusion of the main character wasn’t as easy to navigate as I usually expect in romances, but in the end any struggle through the sieve of an injured alien mind was well worth the eventual payoff for me.  Of course, I greatly enjoy stories where strong men are able to find comfort and joy in submission to another, especially when the relationship focuses on the mental and emotional side of  Domination and submission.  For this reader, Blowback was an absolutely enchanting tale and the wonderful jumble of the blue woman’s crazily enticing vocabulary was an extremely enjoyable escape that paid off handsomely in the end.

Heat:   4.5 stars (just a few scenes, but I found them to be very smoking for my tastes)

Relationship Chemistry:  4.5 stars (slow boil of enemy to prisoner to lover)

Characters:   4.5 stars (tough, alpha male who secretly wants to submit and an uber-strong, apparently crazy, and wonderfully blue alien woman)

Setting:   4 stars   (military operatives undercover as smugglers caught on a slaving planet)

Plot:   4 stars  (caught in a web of deceit among slavers, aliens, the military, and the government)

Writing:    3.5 stars  (excellent hints of the author’s future xenolinguistic exploits, but sometimes dragged a bit much in the crazy alien woman’s mind)

 

Themes:  Aliens, Slavery, Enemies to Lovers, BDSM (submission, control, light bondage)