No Mate of Mine by Lisa Oliver (review)

Tagline: Abandoned Omega and fated mate is rescued from the BDSM torture that made him a vampire’s favorite snack, meaning pack/coven relations may never be the same

No Mate of Mine Book Cover

Title: No Mate of Mine
Author: Lisa Oliver

Genre:  Male/Male Paranormal Romance
Format:  Novel (53k words)
Series: Bound and Bonded #5

Book sites: Author |  Goodreads

Publisher: Oliver Group (July 2015)
ISBN: 9781310423994

Retail: $3.99

Rating:   star  star  star  half-star  (I liked it alot! )


Synopsis: Roger, an enforcer at the Washington wolf shifter pack’s Bound and Bonded BDSM club, met his fated mate Cam when the lad was just twelve years old.  Wanting to give him some time to grow into an adult, Roger left him to grow up in the safety of his home pack.  Years later, when nightmares prompt Roger to look for Cam, the Alpha wolf discovers his Omega mate is missing and the clues lead to a vampire BDSM club in New York.  As the Washington pack stands by its own, and the fated mate link is sacred, rescuing an Omega is who a vampire’s favorite treat means the paranormal fur begins to fly.

Review:  This book covers one of my favorite themes (Omega wolves) and it’s by an author I generally really like, but I did not find it to be quite as strong as some other stories from the same setting. I find these works, centered on a couple gay wolf shifter packs, often walk the line between really fun, fast-paced, and sexy on the one hand, and corny and/or short shrifted plots and characters on the other.  Sometimes the balance swings one way (where I really enjoy the escapist sizzle) or the other (when I’m disappointed by simplistic conflict/character/relationship resolutions).

I much prefer the author’s other BDSM-themed M/M wolf shifter series (the Cloverleah Pack) which seems to be set in the same universe. While I was excited to read about an Omega in this Bound and Bonded series, I found the results to be a little uneven, or at least not quite as compelling as I have found some of the author’s other sexy/BDSM/wolf shifter escapist reads.

Overall, fans of this author, and especially the Bound and Bonded series, should enjoy this book, especially if they like an occasional Omega character in amongst the general focus on very strong and in-control, hot Alpha/Dominant wolves. While some of the plot and setting twists were nicely fresh for an “Omega-in-distress” story, the focus of the work was his true/fated-mate dominant who had semi-abandoned the weaker wolf years before. Watching Roger work through his reactions was interesting, touching on plenty of issues, although not in an extremely deep manner (and therefore not as compelling as it could have been). To be fair, the strength of this author usually isn’t the great detail of slowly evolving and challenging character and relationship angst, but rather presenting a decent premise of a “fated mate” relationship conflict, following with several twists and turns, with each obstacle usually tackled somewhat quickly.

In other words, this author presents decent character, relationship, and setting issues but generally resolves them relatively efficiently and sometimes a bit perfunctorily, but always includes a decent amount of nicely explicit sizzle. Her stories are best for those looking for some escapist, heated reads that combine simple but still intriguing, character, setting, and plot and plenty of male/male sizzle, but nothing overly compelling.

This work fits that mold fairly well, making it a 2.5 to 3.0 star read in terms of quality and and 3.5 to 4 star read in terms of just escapist enjoyment and reading pleasure. So overall, I’m giving it a 3.25 star rating (because I often enjoy these types of works, including this one) rounded up to 3.5 because “Omega wolves,” coupled with a sprinkling of vampire themes in a wolf shifter story, are among my favorite themes.


Recommended for fans of:   Escapist, rescue the tortured Omega reads (without dwelling too much on the logic of the torture or the mate abandonment).

Sizzle:
Explicit Heat: fire fire fire fire
Passion: heart heart heart  – The fated mate  chemistry was present, a bit more familiar and friendly, if not overly compelling
Genre:  Adult Romance


Other Comments:

My biggest criticism would center on the Omega’s recovery from horrendous abuse. The author is careful to have the newly mated Alpha/Dominant to be caring, considerate, and backing way off typical Master/servant (or Dominant/submissive) etiquette as the Omega is not in need of harsh domination – quite the opposite. Still, there are hints that D/s activities outside of those that mimic the worst abuse previously meted out on the Omega would be pursued. (In other words, things like extreme pain, harsh verbal and physical Domination and humiliation, blood play, etc., would be avoided, but other D/s activities were likely to on the couples’ future menu.) Again, the author was careful to give plenty of power to the abused submissive to help shape their future play, but the discussion of it while he was basically in immediate recovery from horrendous abuse set my teeth on edge a bit.

Again, like others in the series, this is a relatively quick and escapist jaunt into wolf shifter culture where BDSM is keenly integrated their culture. Therefore, I’m not expecting – nor am I really strongly criticizing – the lack of depth and nuance with which some character and BDSM issues are handled. Overall, the author does a nice job at touching on important safety and relationship concepts in BDSM that are brief but fit nicely into short, escapist sexy works involving the topic. However, even though the author took great pains to have Roger be an extremely caring and understanding dominant wolf who rescued his abused Omega mate, my honest reaction to some of the BDSM discussion at the end was both “too soon!” and also whether the Omega would be at all interested in that type of play at all given what he had been through.

Just my honest $0.02. This should not detract from how, overall, the author handles BDSM tactfully, especially for a setting where extreme-tough and resilient supernatural wolf-shifting men enjoy rough physical play with each other.

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Orion’s Circle by Victoria Sue (review)

Tagline: Tortured Omega rescued by a triad of powerful wolves and a fated bond is tested

Book Cover

TitleOrion’s Circle
AuthorVictoria Sue

Genre:  Paranormal Shifter M/M Romance
Format:  Novel (53k words)
Series: Sirius Wolves #1

Sites: Author |  Goodreads

Publisher: Dark Hollows Press (June 2015)
ISBN: 9781942176855

Bonus:  mpreg

Retail: $4.99

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

Synopsis: A tortured Omega is rescued by a Triad of uber-powerful Alphas who claim to be potential mates.  However, when the new bonds are tested by a deceitful plea for help, betrayal, and quick doubt among the potential mates, fear and anger overwhelm trust and developing love.

Review: The genre of an “abused/tortured” Omega being rescued by hunky Alphas is one of my favorites, and this book has some nicely satisfying elements of this type of “Prince Charming” (or, in this case, Charming Princes) tale. The characters were nicely diversified, the emotions (good and bad) had some resonance, and despite a type of “fated mate” trope there were definitely some twists, turns, and potentially insurmountable obstacles in the story and the relationship.

The relationships between the Alphas and the Omega were the most engaging parts of the book, generating some decent interest as well as a twist or two that I wasn’t quite expecting, but also occasionally left a bit to be desired. There were certainly some sweet and reassuring “rescue and comfort the Omega” scenes, but also some interesting conflicts, including some over-the-top reactions that made some sense and helped make this to be a bit more than a simplistic “rescued and then fated  to mate”story.

Still, I enjoyed it enough to want to read more in this series, and especially liked the differentiation of characteristics and roles among the Alpha Triad and their new Omega friend.

The story did not deliver quite as much as I would have preferred, as some of the “world/setting” reveal was rather bland, and the overarching background plot (a Triad+Omega sent by an exiled/almost powerless goddess) was too huge to be easily acceptable. This mega-story certainly is intriguing, but it came across as a bit too blasé for me. (I guess I expect a long, detailed and provocative exploration for such an epic storyline.) Still, this level of drama separates this work from others that are a bit more “mundane” in their treatment of Werewolf-human interaction.

 

Recommended for fans of: Alpha/Omega menage; mpreg; world-saving-ending paranormal/wolf shifter power in plotlines.

Sizzle:
Explicit Heat: fire fire fire fire – Some explicit scenes  with some kink (mpreg menage)
Passion: heart heart heart heart  – The chemistry and passion was present, if a bit over the top.  If one suspends a little disbelief and accepts just how quickly trust/love/mate was pronounced, retracted, and restored, the passion works.
Genre:  Adult Romance


Other Comments – Boring political/world building critiques:
The human political plotline was another that had some great ideas but wasn’t pulled off as smoothly as liked, including brief treatment of two human factions (part of the same team) that seemed to be at odds with any kind of organized effort by a human government to take an issue like this seriously. (People showing up at official, extremely sensitive, top-secret, and should-be-very-carefully-managed negotiations unannounced. A strike force that seemed to be spotted from miles away slowly surrounding and capturing an entire large group that should have easily been able to slip away, but they seemed to just stand there and wait to be surrounded and captured.)
The “werewolves exposing themselves to humans” trope is a difficult one for me to appreciate without an extreme level of thought and sophistication. (The author’s treatment of this “coming out” wasn’t horrible, and had plenty of political and personality-driven machinations, but for those plots to be very enjoyable to me, I yearn for a very significant and deeply well thought-out world building and story. The reasons why werewolves remain hidden for so long, how they’ve interacted with and affected human events in the past, and why they are coming out now are massive questions that are difficult to answer in a short romance. For example, author attempted to address some of this with comments about World War I and the War on Terror, so kudos for at least trying to put such a earth-shattering, seminal event into some perspective. But to me this ices over World War II and the Cold War, which to me vastly, vastly larger threats by far to both humanity and especially werewolves’/supernaturals’ position and stake in the world.) Again, my respect to the author to at least try to address this, even if in this particular case it did not really enhance the believability (or suspension of my disbelief) too much for me personally.

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.

He’s Just Knot That Into You by Nico Jaye (review)

Tagline: Desperate Alpha misses the potential mate right under the horned rimmed glasses in front of him

Book Cover

Cover: Anna Sikorska
Title: He’s Just Knot That Into You 
Author: Nico Jaye

Genre:  Paranormal m/m shifter romance
Format:  Novella (42k words)

Sites:  PublisherGoodreads

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1-63216-823-8

Retail: $4.99

Rating:   star  star  star  half-star  (I liked it alot!)

Synopsis:  When Tanner moves to Chicago for a new job, he experiences his First Shift, a revelation that signifies he’s met his mate since the last full moon. The only problem? He doesn’t know who it is. To find his mate, he enlists his new assistant Jon to arrange a series of dates, but each one turns out more disastrous than the last.

With the next full moon quickly approaching, Tanner finally determines the identity of his true mate. Unfortunately, Jon has since disappeared, and Tanner must now begin a new search. Is it really Jon’s family crisis pulling him away, or is Jon just not that into him?

Review:  I loved the premise – a potential Alpha in desperate need of finding his fated mate overlooks a rather endearing Omega who is serving him right in front of his eyes.

A nicely sweet story of an Alpha looking for his mate, it’s a fun piece of mating fluff with a little sizzle and even some shifter toughness mixed in with the yearning and potential love.Overall, it’s simply a nice treat for a quick, escapist read with plenty of sweet and a touch of sizzle.

3.5 stars (rounded up for the knotting)

Recommended for fans of: Quick and sweet romances; Alpha males who appreciate quite and/or young nerdy mates; knotting.

Sizzle:
Explicit Heat: fire fire fire  – Some explicit scenes  (and tiny bit of knotting kink).
Passion: heart heart heart   – Some chemistry present, especially with
Genre:  Adult Romance


Other Comments:
A bit of a wolf shifter Alpha / Omega vibe (including a Female Alpha/Male Omega pair of background characters).

Wolfsong by T.J. Klune (review)

Tagline:   “Worthless” teen thrust into a world of wolves, danger, and responsibility

Book Cover

Cover: Reese Dante
Title: Wolfsong
Author: T.J. Klune

Genre:  Paranormal M/M Romance
Format:  Novel (160k words)

Publisher: Dreamspinner (June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1-63477-165-8

Retail: $6.99

Rating:   star  star  star  star  half-star  (I really liked/loved it!)

Synopsis: Before he left his mother and his family forever, Ox’s father told the awkward and not always articulate young man that his son was worthless.  When young Joe moves in next door, Ox becomes fast friends with the neighboring family and begins to learn many of their wolf shifter secrets.  While Joe and Ox grow to be young adults and become closer and closer, Ox is deeply embedded in the family when violent shifters strike a blow against the whole pack.  As a future Alpha, Joe must shoulder the burden of leadership which might tear him away from the friend who is a potential love and mate.  Years of struggle with paranormal shifter and magical threats split the pair apart at a rather deep level, and the possibility of being reunited brings forth feelings of long-boiling anger that might overwhelm their abiding friendship and potential love.

Review: T.J. Klune is one of my favorite authors, and he delivers a stunning paranormal, wolf-shifter “romance” that draws characters,  supernatural elements, and relationship angst vividly on the page.  While Klune normally writes extraordinarily humorous and snarky contemporary gay romance, he brings similar but more serious rattling, prattling, rapid-fire character thoughts and attitudes to this rather angst-filled and dramatic coming-of-age romance.  The paranormal elements were compelling and the setting interesting. Even though many of the themes could apply to less magical environments, there is quite a novel development that brings a fresh and sometimes dramatic theme concerning a human protagonist not found in other paranormal stories.

Ox’s struggle with his sometimes dim view of himself is challenged dramatically by the events, forcing him to choose just what kind of person, partner, friend, lover, and family member he wants to be.  The tapestry surrounding the protagonist’s struggle is deep and rich for fans of paranormal and extended family settings, intriguingly framing personal growth and coming of age themes with supernatural and relationship struggles.

My small critiques would include the fact that the couples’ relationship was a so angst-filled it was hard to buy the connection between them at times, and the protagonist’s anger a bit over-the-top from my perspective, but these elements also made for a rather atypical and fresh approach to potential shifter mates.

Recommended for fans of:  Somewhat angst-driven (in a serious, adult responsibility manner) coming of age stories; slightly darker paranormal potential couplings;  TJ Klune’s fast-paced and direct character thinking/speaking processes in a more serious/less humorous manner.

Sizzle:
Explicit Heat: fire fire  – A bit of explicit content, but the real heat was in the angst, anger and potential passion much more than the physical scenes.
Passion: heart heart heart heart – In some ways it’s hard to get more passionate (almost five hearts), although most of the passion focused as much on feelings of betrayal and anger as deep friendship and intimate connection (more like 3 hearts).  So, overall, the highest level of emotion but also a strong undercurrent of mistrust and very separate, often diverging character attraction and development.
Genre:  Adult Romance


Other Comments:
I really enjoyed this as a fresh take on paranormal romance applied with TJ Klune’s unique style (even without the humor).  While I didn’t find the protagonist’s anger quite as compelling as other readers, the overall experience was riveting and a great (if just a tad dark) male/male paranormal romance.

Make Me by Jessica Lee (review)

Tagline: Dominant Alpha & newly turned mate in quick but rather erotic short

Make Me Book Cover

KinKaid Wolf Pack #2
Title: Make Me
Author: Jessica Lee

Genre:  Paranormal Male/Male Erotica
Format:  Short Story (7.8k words)
Series: KinKaid Wolf Pack #2

Publisher: Self-Published (2nd Ed., Aug. 2012)
ISBN:  9781301465460

Retail: $0.99 (May 2016)

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

 Heated, lightly BDSM-oriented (discipline) short male/male shifter erotica

While this is an older worker (2nd edition in 2012), it’s in the genre I prefer to review (paranormal/wolf shifter male/male romance) and part of a series that had a recent release (February 2016).

This second, brief installment in the KinKaid Wolf Pack series centers on events shortly after Evin’s assumption of a new position in the pack.  With political threats abounding, Mason must put to rest his past, learn about new dangers due to his mating, and ascertain just how much he is able (or wants) to resist the rough, commanding handling of a more dominant wolf.

There is a bit of a plot which advances the underlying story in the KinKaid Wolf Pack series, starting off with Evin’s assumption of a new position at the end of the first novella and setting up for future conflicts that unfold in the third novella.  However, the focus of this short story is certainly a long, heated, passionate and a tad kinky scene between two male wolves, one very dominant and the other figuring out how to respond to the strength of his partner.

Overall it was a nice, explicit (romantic erotica) shifter short story focused on a dominant and and just lightly BDSM/kinky (discipline and biting) male/male sexcapade.

Heat:  7/10. (Explicit, somewhat kinky – lightly Dominant and a bit of Domestic Discipline)  

Series information: The first two installments (the first novella and this follow-up short story) center on a male/male couple, while the third installment is a novella regarding a male/male/female potential menage. The first three titles have a general, underlying story regarding the pack. The fourth story is set in the same pack but otherwise has a standalone story covering a new male/male couple.

 

 

 

Omega Nanny by Penelope Peters (review)

Tagline:  An omegaverse story of a widowed alpha and an estranged omega
Omega Nany Book Cover
Title: Omega Nanny
Author: Penelope Peters

Genre:  Paranormal M/M Romance
Format:  Novel (281 pages)

Publisher: Self-Published (April 2016)
AISN: B01EBA527U

Bonus: Kindle Unlimited title

Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

A widowed, straight alpha needs a nanny for his child and discovers an estranged, single, and straight omega.  What are two straight men to do, especially a desperate employer and an employee who needs a job, when the pheromones start to drive them wild?  Is it the mating drive or the mutual respect that could overcome the “not my type” and “don’t jeopardize the job” vibes between the two?

Overall, it was a sweet and explicit omegaverse story with enough plot and relationship tension to keep things interesting in addition to two heated and sizzling encounters.  There was certainly a bit of manufactured feel (falling in love in 2 weeks), but elements adding to the tension (a beta friend who was not a girlfriend) and interesting if underdeveloped supporting characters (former wife, protective alpha friend, meddling sister, and sweet daughter) helped give the quick novel life beyond the sizzled. Some setting information, especially regarding the usually ignored role of betas in an Alpha/Beta/Omega omegaverse was a nice touch.  Also, I’m not always appreciative of Alpha violence and protective instincts, but I was pretty pumped when Thomas goes a little alpha in support of a non-alpha.

A nice read for fans of omegaverse stories with a some focus on the relationship and setting along with the mating heat (although knotting was only briefly mentioned and the mpreg was slipped past into the epilogue).

Omegaverse and a little gender fluidity:

In a surprising (to me) twist, the male omega had a cock, an ass that was breedable, but no testicles. At first I was surprised and a bit disappointed by this, as one of the reasons I like omegaverse stories is the male-male action, especially leading to pregnancy.  I’m already a bit hesitant about some of this genre, as Alphas are often hyper-masculine and, except for their equipment, the male omegas often take on very traditionally feminine roles.  Although I very much appreciate gender-challenging characters, I am also a bit disappointed when it’s always the top, Alpha who takes on the masculine roles and the receptive, bottom, omega who takes on traditionally female roles.  (Also, tops that constantly penetrate their male partner but who never let a bottom near their own entrance is a particular turn off of mine, but par for the course in omegaverse novels.) When these roles are so strongly separated, it seems to me one might as well just write male/female stories.

However, as I thought about the extra “hitch” (or lack of one) in this story a bit more, if I think of omega with a penis but no balls who takes on typically female roles, “male” might not immediately jump to my mind, but it is a very gender fluid character.  So it took a little time to wrap my mind around, but I am warming up to viewing this story as a cool traditional gender bending/more gender fluid setting, almost like a paranormal transgender romance.  If the omega identifies as male, even if he has some characteristics more often associated traditionally feminine traits, it’s still a male/male story to me, perhaps just with a nice bit of transgender/gender bending flavor to challenge my assumptions.

Of course, now I am very curious about female alphas mating with omegas, continuing on with the challenging roles this society makes about gender behavior and roles.

Lost and Found by Willa Okati (review)

Tagline: Sweet Alpha/Omega Shifter Mpreg Smut
Book Cover
TitleLost and Found
Author: Willa Okati

Genre:  Erotica (omegaverse)
Format:  Short Story (15k words)
Series: Omega Wolves Series #1

Publisher: Changeling Press (2016)
ISBN: 0759302448

Rating: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

Summary: Works as a (sweetly romantic) erotic mpreg wolf shifter short

After being exiled for his pack for loving the Packmaster’s son, Alpha wolf shifter Matthias returns only to find his love Bree shunned when his Omega nature is evident.  Young, true love is lost but found again in the cold of the winter snow and the overwhelming mating heat.  Overall, while the underlying plot was sweet, the writing and the story were not very compelling. Fans of explicit Alpha/Omega wolf shifter attraction, lust and love and their overwhelming drive to connect during the mating heat may find this to be a sizzling albeit short read.  While placed in a werewolf setting, the steam includes favorite themes of omegaverse enthusiasts such as male pregnancy (mpreg) and knotting.

The Country Omega by Penelope Peters (review)

Tagline:  An omegaverse story of arranged mating promise, tension and trust

Country Omega Book Cover
Title: The Country Omega
Author: Penelope Peters

Genre:  Paranormal M/M Romance
Format:  Novel (334 pages)
Series: Downing Cycle #1

Publisher: Amazon Kindle (Jan. 2016)
AISN: B01AIT6JNO

Bonus: Kindle Unlimited title

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

A quick read for a novel, this story has a nice range of sweet but intriguing, surprising, and entertaining scenes centered on an arranged match between a city Alpha with a demanding, sophisticated, high-powered business family and a country omega with a loving, domestic family and a shadowed secret. The author starts with an intriguing and eventually dramatic introduction and then weaves scenes of past secrets and yearning dreams into the story of two separated would-be mates. I especially appreciated the depth of the supporting characters, from competitively friendly lawyers, demanding and over-protective fathers, wise and doting mothers, to conflicted music teachers.

I don’t think I’ve read any other omegaverse piece with such nuance and depth. The Alpha-Beta-Omega dynamics are central to the story and potential relationships but not overstated or overly used as explicit sizzle.

Outside of dreams, an Alpha knotting and the potential for impregnating his male omega mate is saved for the end. This is more a “will they or won’t they” end up together and which Alpha is right for the omega story rather than a book of repeated, hard-core sizzle. It’s nice piece for those readers who like focus on plot and character as much or more than the heated Alpha/omega Mpreg breeding scenes.

Omega to the Ranchers by Stephen Hoppa

Omega to the Ranchers Book Cover

Title: Omega to the Ranchers
Author: Stephen Hoppa
Genre:  M/M Paranormal Erotica
Format:  Novella (115 p.)
SitesGoodreads | Amazon
Series: Becoming Omega #1
Publisher: Amazon (Oct. 2015)
AISN: B017EKHM9K

2.5 stars (out of 5)

Tagline: Abused human omega rescued and respected by Alpha and Beta werewolves (Alpha/omega ménage erotic story)

I received a free, epub copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

A brief, novella-length story of an abused, straight, and human omega taken in by two hunky werewolves, including the pack Alpha and his caring but tough Beta mate.  The plot follows their somewhat careful move towards a “triad” ménage relationship navigating through the vicissitudes of pack politics, personal histories of abuse, and fears of the omega simply being used.  Includes explicit scenes of first-time with men, voyeurism, lightish Domination/submission, and fully threeway ménage.

I read this twice, and the first go through was somewhat enjoyable, while a second, closer reading was less compelling.  This came across a simplistic, easy to read, but occasionally eye-rolling quick jaunt through erotic and/or romantic themes I enjoy, including werewolf pack dynamics (especially involving omegas),  fully “triad” ménage relationships, and a rescue from abuse theme.  While I did not find the story to be particularly compelling, it worked o.k. as a diversionary, escapist read with a little Alpha/Beta/Omega werewolf sizzle.

I agree with other reviewers who have indicated this fits nicely into the “Stormy Glenn” category of m/m erotic romance, where explicit stories have enough plot to be separated from pure erotica/smut, but with writing that has plenty of cheesy, simplistic, and sometimes eye-rolling passages.  In other words, this works for a basic, somewhat heated werewolf ménage read rather than a compelling romantic/erotic story.

Positive moments included a chuckle for the phrase “werewolf-sexual” (as opposed to bisexual or homosexual) to explain the (human) omega’s sudden attraction to two strong (werewolf) males, highlighting a subdued form of the “instant mate” trope.   Also, there were repeated, decent character actions regarding the slightly contrasting roles the Alpha and Beta played for the Omega.

While Eric’s touch said, “I own you,” Tyler’s said, “I’m going to take care of you.”

Overall rating:  It was o.k. for a short, explicit werewolf ménage escape – 2.5 stars.   Therefore, following the general “star” meaning indicators,  rounded down to  2 stars (“o.k.”) in Goodreads, and up to 3 stars (“o.k.”) in Amazon.

 

Examples of problematic moments:

Unconcerned alpha: The pack alpha, Eric, doesn’t have an omega to ground him, so members of his pack are turning “feral” (which seems like a fate close to death, if not worse), three alone within that last few weeks.  Instead of discussing this issue at a pack meeting, Eric dismisses it and starts talking about the improvement in pack finances (much to the dismay of the pack members).

Missing poster: Apparently an abusive, cop father distributed a large number of MISSING posters after he severely beat his 19 year-old kid (almost to death?) and left him to probably die.  It just didn’t make sense – perhaps he was trying to cover-up his abuse, in case people asked what happened to his (adult) son and/or if the victim’s body suddenly turned up?

Feel of the ranch: At one time, the omega exclaims “The entire property with the ranch probably cost millions. Or fuck, I dunno, billions?”  During the rest of the story, the pack’s ranch came across as more of a struggling concern (or at least all of the pack members were very hard working and the finances/margins didn’t seem particularly great).  So either the “millions/billions” statement was supposed to indicate the new, human omega was clueless when it came to real-world finances (billions?), or the feel the author was trying to convey was inconsistent.  (In the rest of the book, it came across a semi-struggling concern where the Alpha had to put in plenty of hard work, versus a more comfortable, CEO type of role.)  This is just an example of how the writing did not come across as particularly compelling, detailed or believable.  (And yes, I realize if one is focused on the erotic aspects, those details don’t matter much, but overall this type of writing undermined any greater pull beyond the erotic heat from the broader story.)

Sudden, rough-ish, rather Dominant/submissive sex: 

On the one hand, the Alpha and Beta were extraordinarily and repeatedly concerned about the Omega making a choice to be with them out of his own free will and not feel forced, even though continued delay in their formal claiming was endangering the lives of individual pack members.  On the other, the pair has no problems quickly leading the virginal, abused omega into rough-ish (“fuck my face”) submissive sex, and basically using him in a tit-for-tat sex game.  Again, while this is not necessarily out of place in an erotic story meant to be enjoyed for semi-kinky heat, but gives the surrounding story an unbelievable (or at least inconsistent) feel.

“He jerked my head back and forced it back down, using me so hard and rough, I could hardly take it, but I wanted it so fucking bad that I was moaning around his delicious skin.”

“Then he grabbed me by the hair, jerked me to my feet, and thrust me up against a fence post. His hand came down hard against my ass cheek. The ringing smack sent trembles of need through my body.

“You’re going to get it hard for that.”

“Please, please fuck my face.”

 

“But I want you to get this. It wasn’t that you dominated me that made me feel weird. It was that I felt like I was being used in a game. I felt like, like I was on the outside of your relationship”

 

“Or no, maybe they just wanted to see me on my knees, choking on their cocks as the dominated me. That thought alone was so hot, I could almost cum all over again.”

“Oh yeah, take it like an omega.”

Wettened:  A quote from the book: “Tyler’s wettened hands…”  Technically, this is a grammatically correct usage of the past participle of the word wetten as an adjective, but it’s an extraordinarily uncommon usage (and, to my mind, rather awkward construction) in current English.  I don’t know whether to be impressed by such a surprise, or bothered by how it awkward it sounded to me.  I wondered if it were a regional usage (the author used the word centre, so I thought he might be British or Australian).  The extraordinarily little usage of this word I could find was scattered across only a three dozen articles in British, Australian, Canadian and American newspapers. (Only thirty eight uses of the word found in five billion documents in LexisNexis, and similar results in other news, business, and academic databases.)