Slow HeatRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Professor Vale Aman is in his thirties, long past the age when most omegas find their alpha mate. Vale has long given up hope that he will find his true match, but he is happy and settled in his life. He has good friends, along with a job he enjoys. However, nothing prepares Vale for Jason Sabel, a young, 19-year-old baby alpha who turns out to be Vale’s fated mate.

Jason is still in school learning how to be an alpha. He assumed that his mate would be similar to him in age and they would build a life together. It never occurred to Jason that his mate would be so much older, let alone a professor at his school. But Jason’s body knows what it wants and that is Vale. Jason is determined to see the bond continue to develop and to contract with Vale to be his mate.

Vale’s body knows what it wants as well. The pull toward Jason is incredibly strong and everything in Vale calls to be with the young alpha. But Vale also has made an independent life for himself, and being tied to a man barely out of his teens is troubling. Not to mention that an omega’s job is to provide children, something Vale knows he can’t do. Once Jason learns the truth about Vale’s past, Vale is sure he won’t even want him. It may be easier to just break the bond and never formalize their mating than to try to make things work. But while Vale’s head may say one thing, his draw to Jason is quite another. And while Jason is young, he knows exactly what he wants, and that is Vale. Now Jason must just convince Vale that he is ready to be his alpha and that the two are meant to be together.

Wow, Slow Heat was such an unexpected delight! I definitely enjoy a good alpha/beta/omega story when the mood strikes, and Leta Blake is one of my go-to authors. I love pretty much everything she writes, so I figured I’d love this one too. But this is a trope that can be kind of cracktastic. Just the combination of the paranormal with the mpreg fantasy can often make for stories that are totally over the top. Usually in a fun way, but not always with a lot of dimension. And to be sure, this story is full of mating heats and knotting and self-lubricating asses that drip when the omega is turned on. So if you are here for that, come on in because you are going to LOVE this book. But if you are looking for a story that is romantic, sexy, and with a lot of depth and great world building, you are going to find that in Slow Heat as well.

First off, let’s talk world building, because that is absolutely fantastic. World building is something that is key for me in any kind of paranormal, fantasy, or science fiction story. Especially in a world like this, where there aren’t any humans at all and everyone is either an alpha, beta, or omega wolf. Blake really outdoes herself here with such a richly developed world. We get details into not only the physical and social side of this a/b/o society, but also the politics, the religion, and the cultural aspects. There is just so much detail here, I can’t even imagine how much time was involved in just figuring out the little nuances that are incorporated into the story. It is hard to believe this is a standalone, as the book is so richly developed it seems ripe for more (pretty please?). My only complaint here is that we know this is a world that exists after the humans became extinct. But for all the detail on the current world, we get virtually nothing on how the wolves came to be, or what happened to the humans. I would have liked a little more sense of that history since it is mentioned, but never really explained.

From the relationship end, I just adored Vale and Jason. Most of my regular readers know I am a HUGE fan of age gap stories, and I particularly liked the way it works here with the younger alpha and older omega. Jason is just on the cusp of adulthood. He is in school, still somewhat reliant on his parents, and really just learning how to be an alpha. None of his friends have found their partners yet and likely won’t for several years. Jason is surprised to find himself with a mate that is older and established in life, rather than someone in his cohort group. Then we have Vale, an omega who has long ago assumed he will never find his alpha mate and is content in his life, only to not only suddenly find his mate, but to be matched with a young, baby alpha. It builds in such delicious conflict right away and I love how each of these men are forced not only to realign their expectations, but also grow and change. In particular, we really see Jason step up, determined to be the alpha that Vale needs. Even though he is young, he asserts himself with his parents, looking out for Vale’s interests and working hard to be sure that he is the man that his omega needs.

These guys are just delicious together, so sweet and sexy. In a fated mates story, I am often left feeling like there isn’t a chance for these men to develop a relationship beyond their destined connection. But here, Blake builds in time for them to get to know one another as a formal contract is part of the mating process. They need to negotiate details of their partnership, so the men have to keep some distance and get to know one another before they can just fall into their mating. That isn’t to say that Vale and Jason do a particularly good job keeping their hands off one another despite the rules; these guys can’t quite stay away from one another and their connection is intense and they are incredibly hot and sexy together. But I appreciated that I could feel like there was a real bond growing between them.

In addition to the main characters, we get to know a lot of the other men in the book, including Jason’s father and pater, Vale’s best friends, and Jason’s best friend, Xan. Through them we get to know a lot more about the larger world, as well as delving into some interesting issues. Jason’s pater, Miner, has some health issues that affect his ability to carry a child. As we learn more about him, we get insight into the politics and the way reproduction is prized above all else, even omega health. There is also an interesting side element with Xan and the fact that despite being an alpha, he identifies much more an an omega. Despite his feelings, his expected role is clear, and an alpha who lays with another alpha is considered “unmanned” and can face harsh consequences. There are some obvious parallels to gay men in our society and the gender roles and expectations for men, even down to the “re-education” that some alphas must get if they express too much interest in an omega role. So like I said, there is some rich world building here and the story is quite deep and thought provoking on many levels.

So overall I really loved this book. Yes, there are some sexy “cracktastic” elements here, ones that I really enjoyed. But on top of that, Slow Heat is a really rich and well developed book, one that kept me eagerly reading to the last page. I would love to see more in this world, and there are some interesting side characters that I think would make for some great stories. So for fans of alpha/beta/omega worlds with a dose of mpreg, you are going to love this one. But even if that isn’t your usual thing, I definitely encourage you to give this story a try as it is really wonderfully done.

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