(Alpha & Omega #1)
Release: 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.Review by Rose Red:
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.
I've loved Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series for a long time now. That being said, I have no idea why it took me so long to pick up the Alpha & Omega series. I'm so glad I did! I've wanted to know more about Charles, the Marrok's other son, since he was first mentioned in Moon Called. I devoured all the books in this series in two days. And then I did something that I don't do very often. I immediately reread the whole series. It's been a couple years since I was so engrossed and in love with a series and its characters this fast.
What I find interesting about this series is that it starts with a novella (Alpha & Omega: A Companion Novella to Cry Wolf) and it's very important to read that novella before starting this series. My hardcover copy of Cry Wolf has the novella in it before the actual novel starts. It takes place slightly after the events in Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) where Mercy helps a teenager named Alan MacKenzie Frasier (Mercy calls him Mac) from Chicago who was attacked by werewolves, changed, caged, and sold for drug research. The novella is the story about Charles going to Chicago to deal with the werewolves who did it and how he subsequently meets Anna. Cry Wolf begins the day after the events in the novella. If you don't read it then the book will read like it's missing a few chapters at the beginning.
I'm in love with Patricia Briggs’ werewolves. I was only five pages into the novella and I already adored Anna. Another five pages and Charles had captured my heart as well. As much as I love Mercy Thompson and her world, I absolutely love the change in this book to multiple perspectives told in third person! It really added to the story. This series focuses more on the pack politics and on the actual werewolves in the Marrock's pack. The werewolf lore is original and I love how it can take influences from a person's upbringing and environment. Like with Charles' Native American side. This book also gives us a look inside the minds of the werewolves and their constant battle for control over the animal instincts of the wolf.
Cry Wolf is set in Aspen Creek, Montana where the Marrock's personal pack resides as well as in the majestic wilderness of the Cabinet Mountains. Charles and Anna have to track down a rogue werewolf who is attacking hunters in these mountains. I loved the setting! Part of it is because I grew up in Idaho and spent quite a bit of time in the Cabinets during the summer. Being familiar with the area they were searching for the rogue in made the story even better. Let's just say, I wouldn't want to travel in those mountains in the winter! And they were a great setting to face down the big bad who, in my opinion, is absolutely terrifying.
I really enjoyed reading from both Anna and Charles’ perspectives. It gives us a look into their budding relationship and there are several precious moments between the two of them! The romantic aspects of the story were done so well! The romance is also very different from anything I've read before. Anna and Charles are a rather odd pair in that their inner wolves chose each other as mates before their human selves could even say hello. They are complete opposites and their relationship is equal parts passion and struggle.
Both characters are deeply scarred by traumatic lives, and those scars play a very real role in their ability to interact and trust each other. Some "fated to be mated" stories immediately jump to hot and heavy and totally in love, but that's not the case with Charles and Anna. Their wolves accepted the mating bond long before their human sides did, and Charles is SO gentle and understanding with Anna that I couldn't help but love him a bit myself. She's been through such horrors for the three years that she's been a werewolf, and not many alpha-males would be as patient and kind as Charles was. Their struggles, their getting-to-know-you phase, and the relationship itself is dynamic, raw, real and full of emotion that will make you feel deeply.
Anna has suffered very differently than Charles has and vice versa, and that makes their reactions completely different. That’s probably what made me so pleased with this book. Neither character remarkably heals over night. It's a struggle to adapt to their new life and its fragile happiness. They spend as much time learning how to live life as they are, flaws and scars and all, as they do healing. But there are very real moments of honesty with these characters. They are more fragile, and emotionally unveiled than many other characters that I’ve run across. It was a brave move for Briggs to create a character that actively, honestly, and openly deals with severe PTSD. It impacts the plot, her development, and so much more.
Anna is such a sweetheart but she is more than a bit damaged. Forced to become a werewolf against her wishes, she was subjected to horrifying abuse. Anna is a survivor and she proves to be brave, strong, and resourceful despite her hardships. She has a quiet strength in her that I really like. With this book, she still struggles with the side effects of the ways she was brutalized by her old pack. It takes her a while, but she finally accepts all that she and Charles can be together, and that inspires in her a strength that she hadn't exhibited since before she was forcefully Changed. And, although she's an Omega, Anna gives as good as she gets. Her vulnerabilities don’t weaken her.
Charles is his father’s assassin which hasn't allowed him to get close to many pack members. We get to see more sides of him than just the emotionless enforcer and the blank mask he wears for the public. He's far more complex than I ever imagined. He gets to be more of himself with Anna and he doesn't know how to deal with it. It takes him a bit, but we slowly see him start to open up a little. What I love is that Charles ended up being a very scary white knight for Anna. He's not a conventional love interest, but he is what Anna needed. I love the way he looks out for her without smothering her. They are really perfect for each other. Charles, like Anna, has his own demons, but they are not focused on in this book. Along with the struggles of their relationship, and the turbulent pack politics, their struggles to not lose themselves to the things that haunt them is nothing short of awe inspiring.
My other favorite part of this book is that we learn a lot about Bran and even get a few scenes from his perspective. We never were told much about Bran's past in the Mercy books, except that Bran is the Marrok and one scary dominant guy. Well, and that he and Samuel became wolves at the same time and that they're originally from Wales.
The plot of this book is awesome in that you learn so much about the Pack and there is a nice amount of action. But what makes this book shine is the characters and their interactions. Anna and Charles both undergo some serious character development in this book.
I know I sound gushy, but I really adored this book! I'd highly recommend it especially if you've read the Mercy Thompson series! I also dare you not to love Charles and Anna.
Recommended for fans of:
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews