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.

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.