Rating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Kerry Monkburn is a pregnant omega who has returned home to await the arrival of his child. Kerry’s violent alpha is in prison for beating up prostitutes, and while Kerry was forced to visit him while in heat, now he can escape the city to the mountains until the baby is born. Being contracted to an alpha like Wilbet is devastating for Kerry; being pregnant with his child is even worse. The abuse Kerry suffered under Wilbet’s hand was terrible, and he is not sure how he can ever love a child that came from this forced mating. His only solace is being able to be in Hud’s Basin during his pregnancy, but he also knows if he doesn’t play things right, his in-laws will force him to the city whether he wants it or not.

Janus Heelies knows he has not always been a good person in his past, but he is determined to change that. He has walked away from his life of wealth and privilege to come to Hud’s Basin and get training as a nurse. The mountain town is nothing like Janus’ life in the city, but he enjoys working with the men of the community and he finds his own peace in the lovely area. Janus is determined to have a quiet year and curb his wild ways, including no more inappropriate affairs.

When Janus meets Kerry, he is intrigued by the quiet omega, but Kerry keeps his distance. The men slowly become friends, however, and Janus begins to learn Kerry’s secrets. Soon the pair begin acting on their attraction, for as much as Janus knows he shouldn’t be having an affair with a contracted omega, he can’t resist his connection to Kerry. The two begin falling for each other, but Kerry knows there is no future for them. As an omega, his life and the life of his child belong to his alpha and his in-laws. He can’t even dare bring himself to hope that anything will ever change. But Janus is not willing to give up so easily, and he is determined to fight with all he has to protect the man he loves and to have a future together.

Bitter Heat is the third book in Leta Blake’s engaging Heat of Love series. We met Janus in the prior book, Alpha Heat, as the antagonist. He was arrogant and self absorbed and had a sense of entitlement that put him at odds with his cousin Xan, as well as Xan’s omega, Caleb. Janus started his path to redemption in that book, and by the time we see him here, he is a changed man. While Janus is sometimes a bit out of his element in a community that is quite different than the posh world he once inhabited, he has become kind, caring, and generous. I was pleased that even though we don’t see the full transition on page in either book, I could really feel how much Janus had changed and could easily accept his new attitude and way of living.

Kerry and Janus have a sweetness together that I really enjoyed. This is kind of a slow burn as it takes a while for Kerry to feel comfortable with Janus and to let him in on his secrets. There is an attraction simmering from the start, but the friendship takes the forefront long before the men act on it. Janus and Kerry form such a lovely couple, with Janus doting and careful with Kerry in a way that he really needs after all his trauma. But even with the sweetness, there is a lot of heat here and the guys can’t hold off acting on their incredible attraction for one another. The more time they spend together, the more Janus is determined to help Kerry however he can.

Poor Kerry is in such a miserable situation, one that it looks like he will never be able to escape. He left Hud’s Basin thinking he was moving on to a bigger and better life in the city and ended up contracted to an abusive, horrific alpha. Even though WIlbet is in jail, Kerry is forced to go to him during his heats and has ended up pregnant. Now his in-laws, desperate for an heir, control his life and that of his future child. Blake does a wonderful job here of showing the bleakness of Kerry’s situation and how desperate he is when facing his future. He can’t imagine how he can ever love the child of a monster like Wilbet, and while he has a few months of respite during his pregnancy, he will soon be back under the thumb of his alpha and Wilbet’s family. I found it so rewarding watching Kerry blossom under Janus’ love. Janus is so sweet and caring and shows Kerry what a real alpha/omega bond is meant to be.

I’ll note here that while the violence against Kerry is not detailed on page, it is clear that he suffered abuse from Wilbet. We also know that he was forced to mate with WIlbet against his will during his heats. There are also some detailed scenes involving abortion and its aftermath. So if any of these issues are triggering for you, be aware.

Overall, I found this a really wonderful installment in this great series. I loved Janus and Kerry together and I was swept up in the intensity, just waiting to see how things would ever work out for the men. I found the ending really rewarding and even a bit tear inducing. So if you enjoy omegaverse stories, I can definitely recommend Bitter Heat and this entire series.

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