Lee Aung is an omega wolf, and at 42, he is still pretty much a party boy. Long past the age when most omegas have found their mates and started families, Lee is content going out and having one night stands and has no interest in anything more. But Lee’s age means that he has stopped going into heat, so the only way to continue to attract alphas and betas is through the use of the synthetic heat-simulating hormone, Wet Heat. The problem is Wet Heat is expensive, so Lee resorts to a variety of tactics to get his hands on it, including pretending to be mated and participating in Wet Heat trials. For the past two years, Lee has been interviewed and tracked by Cain, a scientist at the lab who Lee regales with tales of his wild sexploits with his “partner Gerry.”
When Lee reluctantly agrees to a blind date his mother sets up with an alpha who is also uninterested in a family, Lee is surprised when it turns out to be Cain. Cain has never expressed any interest in Lee; in fact, Lee has constantly tried to crack Cain’s stoic facade. But now it seems that Cain’s alpha instincts have come out and he is quite interested in Lee. The problem is, Lee still isn’t sure he wants a mate. Not to mention, something fishy is going on with a batch of Wet Heat that makes Lee wary. Now Cain and Lee have to figure out if two wolves who weren’t interested in finding mates are actually quite perfect for each other.
When I read the blurb for this one, I was immediately drawn to the quirky premise, one that is kind of unusual in the paranormal/shifter genre. And I think that the set up and interesting take on shifters is what really worked for me the best here. This story really focuses on the alpha/beta/omega dynamic and takes it to some clever places. The individual roles of an alpha/beta versus an omega are really well developed and Hero does a nice job showing how they are incorporated into these characters’ personalities. As an omega, Lee is supposed to want a family and an alpha to care for him. But he has no interest in pups or mating, which makes him not quite fit in. And the alphas/betas have this dual instinct of both dominance and the need to protect the omegas. So pretty much they all want to fuck him, and then send him home so that he doesn’t get himself into any more trouble. I like how Lee has learned to play the game, figuring out how to manipulate the alphas to get just what he wants. It is also interesting that these wolves don’t live in packs, but pretty much are like everyday people who happen to be wolves. So again the focus is really on the behavior dynamics here.
While I think that side of the story plays out really well and in very clever ways, there is not much else in the way of world building. It seems like pretty much everyone is a wolf here, which I found kind of confusing. I have to assume there are humans out there, but it seemed like everyone the guys interact with are wolves. There is some brief shifting, but nothing about life as a wolf is really elaborated upon beyond the alpha/beta/omega stuff and I think a little more detail in terms of setting the structure for the world would have helped.
For me my favorite parts were delving into the alpha/omega dynamic, as well as watching the interplay between Cain and Lee. We see Cain’s alpha side come out for the first time, and he isn’t really sure what to do with it. Cain also has a geeky scientist vibe that I loved contrasted with Lee’s party boy personality. But we are pretty far through the book before this connection really begins to come through, and Lee isn’t necessarily the easiest guy to like at first. He works the system, isn’t super responsible or reliable, and is mostly focused on having fun. He takes advantage where he can, including with Cain (at least at first), and I didn’t feel enough of a redemption arc for him. I also felt like it takes a while for the story to really get going and I wish there way more time to really explore the dynamic between Lee and Cain. I never fully got the sense that Lee is really falling for Cain, versus for Cain’s alpha instincts, or why all of a sudden Lee is interested in a mate when he never was before. This is a fairly short novel and with the set up in the beginning and a suspense element toward the end, the relationship between them doesn’t get as much time and development as I would like.
All that said, I really found this story to be clever and entertaining. I would love to read more set in this world or with these characters as I feel like Hero’s take on shifters is really well done and has a lot of potential for future stories. If you are looking for a paranormal with a bit of a different spin on shifter lore, this one is a good choice.