Braun Etting is an omega who has been raised by his father to believe his only value is in providing alpha children. That is what most of their society believes, after all. Braun has watched his brother Kell be mated to an awful alpha who mistreats and abuses him, and he doesn’t hold out much hope for a better fate for himself. Braun is about to enter his first heat and is of the age he should be mated, but he can’t imagine finding any alpha who will truly care for him and won’t treat him like property. When Braun’s father is killed in a car accident, however, Braun has no choice but to go to an omega halfway house as unmated omegas are not allowed to live on their own. While there, he witnesses a terrifying crime that sends him fleeing. Fortunately, Braun is aided by some new friends who are willing to help protect him.
Tarek Bloom is a local constable and an unmated alpha. He isn’t really looking for a mate, but when his friends introduce him to Braun, Tarek knows immediately that Braun is his omega. Braun is terrified, however, having learned to expect only cruelty from alphas. But Tarek takes his time earning Braun’s trust, and slowly the two begin to connect, spending time and getting to know one another.
Tarek knows that he wants Braun and is determined to care for him and protect him. And Braun is beginning to accept that Tarek isn’t too good to be true, that his kind, caring mate really is someone that can be trusted. Things aren’t all easy, however. There are other omegas in the halfway house that Braun is determined to protect. And Braun’s brother Kell’s situation at home is becoming increasingly scary. Things get dangerous as Braun gets more involved in working for omega rights, but Tarek will stand by his omega no matter what happens.
Saved is the first book in A.M. Arthur’s new Breaking Free series. I have been eagerly awaiting this book and it definitely did not disappoint. I enjoy an omegaverse story and I have really liked much of Arthur’s other work, so this seemed like a perfect match.
I definitely enjoyed Arthur’s take on the omegaverse trope. This type of storyline typically focuses on alpha/beta/omega non shifters in an alternate world. Mpreg and mating heat are often a big part of these books, as well as the political dynamic between the various groups. Arthur hits the high points of the trope here nicely, while also adding some interesting elements. Here omegas really are second class citizens. They have no rights of their own and their alphas control them and make all decisions for them. The story explores some interesting aspects of politics, including the omega rights movement and the way the law treats omegas. Arthur manages to walk the line well between delivering on expectations for this type of trope, but also adding some creative and unique elements that make the story shine.
I really liked the way the book builds the relationship between Braun and Tarek. Yes, they realize they are mates almost immediately, and there is a clear mental and physical pull toward one another. But rather than falling back on instalove/mating bond type stuff, Arthur sets up a story that lets these guys get to know one another and actually develop a real relationship. Tarek respects Braun’s desire to take things slow. He never pushes Braun into a relationship or a commitment he isn’t ready for. The guys spark as they get together for Braun’s heat, but they don’t force their mating until they are both ready. That doesn’t mean things are too slow, however. The men have great heat and chemistry throughout the book. But more than that, I loved how supportive Tarek is of Braun. He wants Braun to be happy and he is willing to put himself at risk to help Braun with the other omegas and his brother’s problems because he knows Braun can never be fully happy worrying about them. They are both really likable guys and very sexy and enjoyable together.
The story combines the relationship end with some conflicts outside of Braun and Tarek, specifically the omegas from the halfway house and Braun’s brother Kell. I think this works well, as it gives nice balance to the story and helps bring in the larger world. It also shows the caring side of both these men. The side plot involving Kell is particularly interesting, and I am guessing setting him up for a story of his own. Just as a warning, Kell suffers significant physical and mental abuse from his alpha partner, and Braun is almost raped, so be aware if this is a sensitive area for you.
Overall I found this one really enjoyable. I was completely engaged and was still thinking about the book long after finishing it. I think Arthur has a fabulous series on her hands and I am so excited for the next stories. So if you are a fan of the omegaverse trope, you are really going to love this one. And if it is something you haven’t yet tried, Saved could be a great place to start.