Abel King has everything a werewolf needs to have a good life. A job he enjoys (albeit not an exciting one), a boyfriend, and a place in the pack that is neither too demanding of his time and attention, or too high placed, which allows him to avoid all the in-fighting and politicking. So, to celebrate his contentedness, Abel has decided to ask his boyfriend Mac if the omega would be willing to accept his mating bite.
Abel bought flowers, expensive candy — too expensive, to be honest, but he wanted everything to be perfect — and intended to take Mac out to dinner, only to have his boyfriend break up with him. Mac wanted more than a mediocre mate; he wanted drama, excitement, and a lover in better physical shape than Abel. Sure, Abel had put on a bit of weight lately, enough that his pants were a bit too tight, but was Mac really that shallow, that petty? The answer, unfortunately, was yes.
While working off his anger and maybe a few calories at the pack gym, Abel runs into a pair of pack enforcers. They are strong, dominant young wolves, nephews of the pack alpha, and doing their best to ‘charm’ a reluctant omega into letting them have their fun with him.
Tommy may be an omega, but he’s no pushover, and he has no intention of letting himself be made a toy by two aggressive wolves… not that he might have any say in the matter. Fortunately for Tommy, Abel just so happens to be rather dominant himself when he wants to be and makes short work of tossing the two would-be-thugs aside. Eager to avoid a repeat encounter, Tommy decides to stick to Abel like glue. Over lunch, Tommy comes up with a plan to help Abel prove to Mac he’s still got it, and to help keep Tommy safe from repeated encounters with Trent and Daniel, the two of them will pretend to be mates. It’s a perfect solution! It also allows Tommy to stay close to Abel, a man who makes his knees go weak and his wolf get frisky.
Abel agrees because he sees something in the pretty little omega — and his wolf is rather keen on the idea, too. Now they just have to keep the pack alpha from taking offense at the way Abel beat up his cousins, keep Trent and Daniel from getting revenge for their beating, and find a way for Tommy and his brother to impress the alpha enough that they’re able to join the pack. It shouldn’t be too hard. There’s something in the way Tommy smells, and the more they play pretend the harder it is to deny the attraction between them.
This is a shifter story taking place in the omegaverse, a world in which male omega shifters can become pregnant. That pregnancy is often the focus of these stories. For those not interested in that particular story line, this book doesn’t actually involve mpreg. In fact, Tommy is infertile. However, his disappointment with his infertility and the lack of status it gives him in any werewolf pack does take up much of the subplot.
Abel is a man meandering the path of mediocrity. He has no ambition to climb higher in the pack; he’s content to be where he is, with no special responsibilities or duties. The most effort he seems to put into anything is taking care of his ex-boyfriend: buying him expensive things, paying for expensive meals, catering to his every whim… it’s obvious why Mac didn’t think Abel had a chance of being anyone special. He was such a doormat Mac didn’t think he had it in him to be an alpha. Abel is only an alpha when he has to be. It’s not that he’s a great guy who doesn’t want to be a bully, he’s just lazy and stubborn. With Tommy, who thinks Abel hung the moon, Abel is free to relax to stop self-sabotaging. He doesn’t need to prove himself, he just has to be himself.
Tommy, on the other hand, lives in a world built half in dreams. When telling his brother how amazing Abel is, Steve says that he’s heard those words before. How many times has Tommy found an alpha he thinks will accept his infertility and non-existent pack status only to have it blow up in his face? He and Steve have been going from pack to pack trying to find a new home. They’re always willing to accept Steve… but not so willing to accept an omega who brings nothing but another mouth to feed to the table. Tommy has that brattiness that is often called charming because he’s cute. His whines are adorable, his pouts are pretty, and every snarky, biting comment comes out of cupid’s bow lips so it’s okay. He fixates on Abel and clings to him and is pretty sure Abel is perfect the way he is. He doesn’t care if Abel loses weight, shaves his head, or dyes his beard blue. He just wants Abel to smile at him, hold him, and love him.
It’s a pair we see in a lot of similar shifter books. Doting Alpha with unexpected strength, bitchy omega with a face like an angel. It’s instant lust, instant love, and a happily ever after so long as they’re together. There is nothing new this book adds to the story, no new takes on shifters, no interesting characters or world-building. It has familiar tropes, stereotypical plot, and the same paper-thin character archetypes from dozens of other stories.
There’s one small niggling issue I had with this book as a personal twitch. The redemption of the baddies. Daniel and Trent were threatening to rape Tommy — not in so many words, but very much evident in their actions — and the general consensus was “boys will be boys.” Because Tommy is neither a member of the pack, a werewolf with rank, or capable of having children for the pack, it’s fine for him to be seen as nothing more than a toy for more dominant wolves to play with, whether he wishes it to be that way or not. Oh, but because they’re the cousins of the alpha who has raised them as his own sons, it’s overlooked. More than that, they’re given a chance of redemption at the end. Able, Trent, and Daniel get to know one another with Trent and Daniel put to honest work and have a chance to become better, more responsible pack members. That’s bad enough — looking at it, the ease with which they harassed Tommy and the confidence they had that they’d get away with it — this was not their first time assaulting someone. It was just the first time they’d been stopped. But they’re good kids on the inside, so it’s all okay?
Ah, but then Mac. Mac who was shallow and wanted a different boyfriend, confronts Abel and threatens to accuse him of rape. As if that is an action that carries any sentence behind it? After all, other wolves do it and no one thinks anything of it. But because Mac is the evil omega who threw Abel aside, his threat has teeth? While Trent and Daniel, known bullies and possible rapists, get a redemption, the snotty omega gets to go ‘crazy’ and be punished. The double standard and what it says about the wolves of this world left a sour taste in my mouth.
This is not a terrible book. It’s not a horrible book. It’s an… okay book. The writing is fine and the pace is quick, but it left me uninterested in revisiting this world or its characters.