I've firmly entrenched myself in the incomparable Mercy Thompson novels and am now feeling the love from Patricia Briggs' most recent series, Alpha & Omega. Following an initial novella titled Alpha & Omega and an actual full-length book, Cry Wolf, this second full-length book has totally found its rhythm that works on so many levels.
After having married the enforcer (or assassin) of the North American werewolf pack, Charles Cornick, Anna is still trying to figure how to effectively use her talents as an Omega while making a life for herself with Charles. Charles' father, the Marrok Bran, has decided that the North American werewolves are going to reveal their existence to the world no matter what other wolves might think. To try to the help wolves from other countries understand how this whole 'big reveal' will pan out, Bran has called a type of council where various alphas can come and discuss their options. Not wanting his father to be anywhere near the discussions, Charles agrees to go in his place to act as an intermediary. Only problem is, due to Anna's past, she has more than a little trouble being in the same room with a bunch of dominate males; leaving both her and Charles on edge. Hoping the group will be kept in check by the moderating presence of the powerful fae Dana, Charles agrees to let Anna come. Of course at the meetings, tempers escalate as disagreements arise but when wolves start getting attacked and an alpha is even killed, Charles becomes the prime suspect in a crime Anna is sure he didn't commit.
Even though Ms. Briggs' series are both set in the same world, they follow essentially two distinctly separate groups - albeit both under the direction of the Marrok - and must be viewed as individual stories with just a bit of overlap. I've come to enjoy the inherent differences between the two series; Alpha & Omega benefits from the perspective of multiple narrators who offer differing insights and viewpoints while Mercy narrates all of her books to perfection. Anna herself couldn't be farther from the gusty Mercy, but I like her just fine. As an Omega, Anna is often seen as a super submissive wolf, but in actuality an Omega is outside of the pack hierarchy and doesn't feel the compulsion to follow orders as other wolves do. They also don't have that 'killer instinct' but can kick serious butt when needed. Their most attractive feature (at least to other wolves) is their calming influence on other wolves because the more dominate guys can actually relax around them since they realize an Omega would never challenge them. Got it? It's taken me two books to finally understand this concept and in all honesty, it's only because of one enlightening conversation between Anna and another Omega, Ric.
Hunting Ground felt like such a tighter novel on so many levels. I figured out what an Omega does (finally) and now, I'm totally digging Anna and Charles' relationship (finally). Anna has had a rough start as a werewolf and has taken some time to get more comfortable and relaxed around Charles, which lead to some nice conversations between the two in this book. They have a nice give and take and I think they both are starting to trust and rely more on the other. This was a great second book and I'm more excited than ever for the next installment.