Poor Ethan Downing. All he wants is to attend a conservatory and continue to learn about his passion…playing the piano. Unfortunately, an Omega needs to be bonded to an Alpha to be able to do this. Ethan’s never actually been interested in bonding, but he realizes what he has to do to be able to follow his dream. So, his father finds a suitable family with an unbonded Alpha, and they take the train to the city to sign the necessary contracts.
Antonio Valdez is also not very interested in bonding. He loves his job, is very rich, and he gets to travel the world. He’s been in the bonding pool for five years. His arrogant father continues to introduce him to Omegas, and he always finds fault with them.
When Ethan and his father show up on the Valdez’s doorstep, Antonio and Ethan take to one another right away. In fact, it’s love at first sight. They begin making plans for their life together. They touch and even kiss, which is not to be done at the first meeting, risking scent marking each other.
Suddenly, they hear angry voices. It turns out that Antonio’s father has included language in the bonding contract that he neglected to mention to Ethan’s father when they began talking. Mr. Valdez sees no reason for Ethan to continue his education, and he wants Ethan to be pregnant within four years of the bonding. This would mean he couldn’t perform or even travel with Ethan because he’d be at home tending to children. Ethan’s father refuses to sign and drags Ethan away.
Being torn apart like that infuriates Antonio. He can’t believe his father could be such an ass. Mr. Valdez is determined to find an Omega for Antonio, no matter what Antonio wants. Ethan is devastated. He wants to be with Antonio. He feels the connection they have, and he knows that Antonio wants the same things he does. If only the contract could be re-written.
From then on, Ethan and Antonio have an uphill climb if they want to be bonded. They have to battle their families, societal roles, and Ethan’s ex…who is a horrible person and has done horrible things. They also must decide if all that is worth it.
I liked this book. I find stories about alternative worlds to be exciting. They’re not necessarily the future or the past, just…different. I was already somewhat aware of what I would be getting when I signed on for The Country Omega because I’d previously read Penelope Peters’ other book, The Omega Nanny. In this world, the people are divided up three ways…Alphas, Betas, and Omegas. Alphas are exactly what they always are. They’re powerful, and they protect their Omegas with everything they have. Betas are neutral, and Omegas are to be protected. They tend to be meeker, and they’re the ones who bear children. Some may think this all sounds sexist, but it really isn’t. It works. Penelope Peters has created the Omegaverse so well, you don’t even really have that thought (at least I didn’t).
I fell for Ethan and Antonio right away. Ethan’s determination coupled with Antonio’s reluctance to bond gave them a chemistry that felt real. I also love a good love at first sight story. The way they looked at each other when they first met, and the way they were able to laugh a little at each other’s clumsiness made me smile. When Antonio takes and begins to caress Ethan’s hand I got a chill up my spine, and when they moved to the edge of the balcony out of sight of their fathers and had their first kiss? I swooned. It was all so romantic!
I was so emotionally invested in their relationship that the struggles they had to endure to be together made me squirm, made me angry, and made me cry. Ethan knew that school was to begin in three weeks, and if he didn’t bond, he wouldn’t be able to go. Coupled with the fact he only wants Antonio, he’s miserable. Antonio spends his time shooting down other Omegas his father brings to meet him. He’s also convinced his lawyer friend, Larissa, to begin to write a new bonding contract without all the ridiculous language in this father’s old fashioned one.
Aside from Antonio’s father’s contract and values, they have to endure a situation with Ethan’s ex. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Let’s just say he is a predator who used Ethan and did something completely unforgivable. Sadly, it’s also something that happens here in our world every day.
The background characters here are all essential to this story. Some of them are lovely, and a lot of them are what I can only describe as mean and evil. I’ve already called Antonio’s father arrogant several times, but his mother is sweet and only wants her son to be happy. Ethan’s parents also want him to be happy, and they’re kind people. They are protective of Ethan, as they should be, but deep down, they know Antonio is the Alpha for him. I really liked Ethan’s piano tutor, Yuri Dimitrov. He seems gruff, but deep down, he’s a softie and he’s grown to love Ethan. One of my favorite lines from the whole book comes from Yuri. “You say potato, I say vodka“. It was a perfect bit of humor in a very tense situation.
A bit about the tension. At times, I thought it was a little too tense. I realize that a certain amount of angst is necessary to move a story along, but there was an awful lot here. There’s quite a bit of action as well, and the tension is tied to it, but I think if some of it could have been used to give us more happiness between Antonio and Ethan, rather than giving me a knot in my stomach, it would have been so much better.
The sex in The Country Omega was sweet. There wasn’t a lot, but sometimes, quality over quantity is better. After Antonio and Ethan meet, Antonio has several very sexy dreams of Ethan. They were full of love and laughter and had a playfulness about them, and when they finally (and I mean FINALLY) come together, it’s spectacular. There’s passion and joy, as it should be. I read it over several times, not because I wasn’t really grasping it, but because it was perfect.
I recommend this book, and I am also excited for the next installment of the series. Also, I recommend you check out Peters’ other book, The Omega Nanny. It’s the same Omegaverse, but with different characters in different situations. They’re definitely worth your time.