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.
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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).

The Captured Omega by M.H. Silver (review)

Tagline: Potentially interesting low-heat Alpha/Omegaverse story with overly simplistic character and scene exposition

Captured Omega Book Cover

Title: The Captured Omega
Author: M.H. Silver

Genre:  Paranormal M/M Omegaverse Romance
Format:  Novel (258 pages)

Publisher: Lovelight Press (May 2016)
AISN: B01FGSAUQ4

Bonus: Kindle Unlimited

Retail: $2.99

Rating:   star1 star1  half-star  (2.5  stars – It was o.k. )


Synopsis: With his former, rather abusive alpha dead, Caden is unsure that his new alpha, Fletcher, will truly be any better. The lot of omegas is usually to be playthings and breeders for their alpha masters, but the new alpha indicates he will not breed or impregnate an omega against their will.  However, Caden’s work in helping fellow omegas may require him to seduce the new Alpha, who on the surface appears to be much less abusive than his previous master. As both omega and alpha work for their own opposing ends regarding their own safety and survival as well as in broader political struggles, the two have a difficult time resisting the powerful, natural, and sometimes magical  attraction between them. (This story is in an omegaverse type of setting.)

Review: All of the elements of a good, unlikely alpha/omega mpreg romance and an underlying supernatural, political plot were present, but the work was lacking in the execution and exposition of these creative story lines and characters. The book raced through developments, shortly describing major events and changes without compelling prose or developing feelings and revelations at an appropriate pace that would entice and draw the reader in. Basically, the story and character ideas and conflicts were very solid, but the execution within individual scenes was often overly quick and simplistic.

For example, on several occasions the omega did something the alpha would likely find very questionable and/or dangerous.  When the alpha discovers the omega’s questionable activity, he simply asks the omega who immediately explains it away truthfully.  The alpha immediately moves on, even though that level of deep trust between the characters really had not really been established. These were opportunities for some drama and intrigue, or at the very least building some real emotional and relationship ties between two characters who lusted after each other, saw some very good in one another, but also had every reason to distrust their prospective partner. Repeatedly flying through huge potential conflicting issues with a quick, trusting sentence or two just made whole aspects of the plot and relationship rather flat and unappealing.

There are enough elements that show promise, but overall it reminds of other works with decently outlined but thinly written stories that surround very heated erotic scenes – except this mpreg story really doesn’t have much heat either. This is most appropriate for readers who like Alpha/Omega MPREG with a well-thought story but do not mind if it is thinly written (and has very little explicit heat).


Recommended for fans of: Omegaverse (Alpha/Beta/Omega) stories; MPREG (male pregnancy); almost complete trust/lack of conflict between the main characters.

Sizzle:
Passion: heart  heart  –  The plot and relationship developments implied a great deal of chemistry and passion between the two, but I usually did not really feel it
Explicit Heat: fire  fire   – There are a couple of explicit scenes, nicely sweet and somewhat reciprocal (although somewhat tame compared to heated MPREG smut).
Genre:  Adult Romance


Other Comments (spoilers):

Examples of extremely flat, underdeveloped, or just way too hokey scenes:

  • Both alpha and omega are secretly searching for an extraordinarily powerful artifact, and when each realizes the other is pursuing the same item, there is quick agreement to look for it together.  There is no real drama or distrust, even though the omega has been horribly abused by alphas in the past and is working for what the alpha considers to be a dangerous and untrustworthy organization.  This type of scene would have been ripe for some potentially interesting character and relationship development.
  • The extremely jealous alpha thinks his omega servant/bedmate is sneaking off to hook up with another lover.  When he finds out omega is basically working for (what the alpha considers to be) a subversive organization, he mostly shrugs it off with just a little warning to his wandering omega about potential dangers.
  • When the omega takes the extraordinarily powerful artifact/jewel to a man he doesn’t trust (and the alpha warned him about), the omega gets pummeled and loses the jewel.  Even though the opportunity presents itself, he does not tell his extremely understanding and trusting alpha about it, but hides this major development for a while.  When the alpha eventually finds out, he almost just shrugs it off.

I understand the idea that not every romantic couple needs to clash again and again, and not every minor or major issue needs to be driven into a soap-opera style confrontation. However, the extreme level of nonchalance for major developments (that could shake the future of their entire world) and over-the-top trust (for characters who did not seem to have yet really earned it yet from each other) just made the scenes rather unbelievable and simply just too pat for my preferences.

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.

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.

Soul Mate for Sale by Kian Rhodes (review)

Tagline: Abused human omega bought and mated by caring Alpha

Soul Mate for Sale Book Cover

Title: Soul Mate for Sale

Author: Kian Rhodes

Genre:  M/M Paranormal Erotic Romance
Format:  Novella (75 pages)
Series: The Omega Auction #1

Publisher: NDP Publications (March 2016)
ISBN: 9781530791543

Bonus: Kindle Unlimited title

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)

Tagline:  Abused human omega bought and mated by caring Alpha

This was a straight-forward, male/male romance story of an abused human omega sold and rescued by an attentive, caring Alpha werewolf. It’s set in a twist on an “omegaverse” universe where male Alphas knot and impregnate Omegas. The plot was simple, following the omega from abuse to life and love in a new pack. The theme of rescue was fine, but the characters were a bit flat.  While the chemistry between them had some sizzle overall it wasn’t particularly enticing to me.

In many ways, this reminded me of a “Stormy Glenn”/Siren Erotic Romance type of erotic story, which usually focus on plenty of explicit heat and conflict with quick moving plots, rapidly developing relationships and simplistic dialog.  This book has better dialog but much less drama, plot, and relationship conflict. Overall, it was a pleasantly diverting novella, providing a bit of knotting and potential Mpreg (male pregnancy) in a sweet, short Alpha and Omega story. The sizzle was present but relatively tame, punctuating an enjoyable if not overly heated quick and comforting read.

Heat: Plenty of physical tension and explicit scenes building from quick releases to full knotting

Note: This series, The Omega Auction, should not be confused with The Omega Auctions series by April Andrews.