Over the past few months I’ve discovered something about myself: I am a latent marathon series reader. Who knew? In order to keep my reviews fresh (and not dominated by one author for a month) I thought rather than reviewing each book individually I could do a few “series reviews.” This one is for the first three books in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha & Omega series, an urban fantasy series following the adventures of Omega wolf Anna Latham and her mate Charles Cornick.
Genre: URBAN FANTASY
Publisher: Ace on July 29, 2008
Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack… and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.
Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna’s inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.
The first book in the series begins in media res or “in the middle of things,” after Anna and Charles have already met and realized they’re mates. Things are tense and uncertain between them – although it’s obvious they have an instinctual desire to protect and care for one another, they’re still complete strangers. The awkwardness is made worse by the fact that Anna barely knows anything about being a werewolf, let alone how to use her abilities as an Omega. But slowly Anna learns how to help other wolves and a tentative affection blossoms between her and Charles…until a rogue werewolf starts killing people, a black witch shows up, and all hell breaks loose.
As much as I love this universe (fans of the Mercy Thompson books know it well), I thought the real star of the show was Anna and Charles’ relationship. The two lovers are so different but somehow it works perfectly. Charles has a push and pull relationship with his wolf side, Brother Wolf. There are many times when Charles is compelled by logic to act in ways that may be more socially acceptable, but won’t get him what he wants – that’s when Brother Wolf pipes up and tells him to get his muzzle on straight and go for the kill (sometimes literally). Anna’s relationship with her wolf is considerably more complicated since she was never taught how to properly connect with that side of herself; when her wolf takes over, it’s usually to protect Anna’s psyche from the trauma of her past.
Anna’s confidence in herself and her strength as a wolf grows in leaps and bounds. I loved seeing her come out of her shell and realize that she is powerful in her own right, but there’s still a long way to go.
Genre: URBAN FANTASY
Publisher: Ace on August 25, 2009
Anna Latham didn’t know how complicated life could be until she became a werewolf. And until she was mated to Charles Cornick, the son — and enforcer — of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, she didn’t know how dangerous it could be either…
Anna and Charles have just been enlisted to attend a summit to present Bran’s controversial proposition: that the wolves should finally reveal themselves to humans. But the most feared Alpha in Europe is dead set against the plan — and it seems like someone else might be too. When Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic, the kind of power only werewolves should be able to draw on, Charles and Anna must combine their talents to hunt down whoever is behind it all — or risk losing everything.
HUNTING GROUND picks up only a few months after the events of CRY WOLF, with Anna and Charles being sent to Seattle to preside over an international wolf conference. The topic of the conference? The impending “coming out” of the werewolves to human society. Fans of Briggs’ work will know that this was also a significant plot point in the Mercy Thompson series, so it’s nice to get an idea of what the political machinations behind that decision looked like. I was pleasantly surprised by how present the Fae were in this instalment; they added to the tension and atmosphere of barely restrained violence that permeated the text.
Charles and Anna are still getting used to their mate bond, but they’re clearly in love and made for each other. While their relationship takes a necessary back seat to the plot, I really appreciated the developments we saw between them. Particularly impressive was their maturity: when one of them gets jealous or possessive there isn’t any petty behaviour or refusal to communicate, but rather a calm discussion about it in private. Is there anything more satisfying in a romantic sub-plot than two adults, acting like adults? Not in my eyes!
I would’ve liked to see a tougher version of the Anna we saw in the first book, but I guess that’s a bit unrealistic given the short time span between the two books.
Genre: URBAN FANTASY
Publisher: Ace on March 6, 2012
They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.
Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can’t afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father’s dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.
Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…
FAIR GAME takes place several years after HUNTING GROUND, with the werewolves now fully “out” in human society. The increased scrutiny the werewolves are under has required Charles to do even more damage control than usual, and the killing is really wearing on him. To give Charles a break, the Marrok sends him and Anna to Boston where the duo will be helping the FBI track down a serial killer who’s been targeting werewolves. I really enjoyed the forensic thriller vibes of this one, especially with the introduction of new character FBI agent Leslie Fisher. Agent Fisher has a very interesting history with the Fae and I’ve got a feeling that she’s going to be an ally for the North American werewolves.
The character development in FAIR GAME was seriously on point. Charles has always been a bit of an enigma, but I feel like I understand him a lot more now. Briggs does such a fantastic job of making him seem quietly dominant and invulnerable that I forgot how much was going on under the surface; turns out he and Anna are more alike than I would’ve thought. As in all things, Anna is right beside Charles in terms of character growth. She takes charge during the investigation, managing the humans, werewolves, and Fae around her like a pro. It was also unbelievably satisfying to see her take back her power and kick some bad guy ass when the situation calls for it. She’s come a long way since the first book, that’s for sure!
The ending of this book blew my mind. Patricia Briggs has really upped the ante with this one, and I didn’t see it coming at all. I need to know what’s going to happen next! I think it’s safe to say that I’m howling for the sequel, Dead Heat. Get it? Howling?…I’ll show myself out.