Caleb has spent the last six years imprisoned and tortured by his aunt and uncle. He isn’t sure why they haven’t just killed him yet, but there are days when that is what Caleb wishes for. Caleb should have been pack alpha, but between the fact that he has never been able to shift, and his father’s fall from grace as alpha himself, that honor went to Caleb’s uncle. On his cousin Mason’s 25th birthday, Caleb is shocked to find himself out of his cell and at Mason’s choosing ceremony. There he sees three human prisoners and learns he is to take place in a fight to the death with their leader, Taegan Callan. Caleb is so weak and injured he can barely stand, and he certainly can’t win a fight, but maybe this is the chance he has needed to just end his pain and suffering.
When the humans manage to escape, Taegan takes Caleb along with them, figuring he will be a potential bargaining chip for some missing human children he is sure the pack has kidnapped. Taegan has always hated wolves; they killed his father and most are horribly abusive to humans. He leads a group of human rebels working to protect others and stop the wolves’ evil actions. So he has no interest in Caleb for anything other than the chance to get the kids back. But soon Taegan realizes that Caleb is nothing like the other wolves he has met. Not only can’t Caleb shift, but he is kind and caring and seems to have suffered at the hands of the pack as much as the humans. For his part, Caleb is drawn to Taegan as well, so much so he barely wants the man out of his sight.
The connection between the men is strong, but they both know there can be no future for them. Taegan is the leader of rebels who fight agains the wolves. There is no way he can take a wolf as a mate. Not to mention it is becoming clear that Caleb belongs with his pack after all. And Caleb doesn’t think there is a chance Taegan could want him and knows it is just a matter of time before he is cast out of this new community he is growing to care about. With dangers from the wolves looming, both men might have a different destiny than what they had once imagined. And if they are lucky, they may be able to find that future together.
The Alpha Heir is the second book in Victoria Sue’s Kingdom of Askara series. Like the first book, this story has some great world building, this time focused on a different pack as well as much more on the humans than The Alpha King. In fact, aside from the shared world, this story stands pretty much on its own. It appears from the ending that the stories actually overlap in timelines, as this book ends around the time Luca assumes the throne in the first book. So you could probably actually read this as a standalone given the characters are mostly new, but I think having a familiarity with the basics of the world will help you understand this one.
As I said, this book looks at Askara from a different viewpoint than the first story, with much more focus on the human rebels and how they interact with the wolves. It was a nice change of perspective to give us a more rounded view of the world. I liked getting to see how the humans are surviving under the wolves’ tyrannical control and how they have adapted to being essentially slaves. We also get a glimpse into the darker side of the wolves than we get in the first book, as Mason and his parents are evil and running a horrible pack. They are trying to find a way to assume power now that they have gotten Caleb and his father out of the way, and they have all kinds of evil plans going on. I found this aspect interesting, though at times confusing. I had trouble following all the politics of the different packs and different members, as well as the lore that accompanies the role of alpha and the passing of duties down to the heirs. So I think it would have helped to have this either better explained, or perhaps simplified. Looking over my review for book one, I found I had a similar concern there. So this is a really well developed world, but definitely one I have found a little too complex at times.
On the relationship end I liked both Taegan and Caleb. I appreciated the dynamic here as while the wolves are more powerful out in the world, here Taegan is definitely the one with all the authority and control. Caleb is weak and abused and pretty much has given up. So I liked see the gentle way Taegan interacts with him, even as his fellow rebels wonder why he is caring for the wolf so carefully when he is the enemy. Things grow nicely between them as Taegan cares for Caleb in his recovery. The only thing that disappointed me a bit is that while these guys are getting to know one another, there is a mate bonding dynamic added in that I think distracted from the actual romance. Because to me these guys are well on the way to falling for one another on their own and then suddenly there is this obsession that comes over both of them due to the bonding that seems to artificially replace the real feelings they were developing. I would have preferred to see that continue to grow, rather than being turned into something seemingly out of their control.
Even so, I found I really enjoyed this second installment of the series even more than the first. As I said, there is a shared world and some connection points in plot and characters to the first book, but mostly this story goes in a different direction than the first, which I liked a lot. I feel like it gave us another perspective on this creative world Sue has built and rounded it out even further. I really looking forward to picking up the next book, the Alpha Prince, and seeing where the story goes from here.