Ricky loves to party; he’s the extrovert’s extrovert and nothing gives him more joy than having a good time. Aside from that, his second love is no doubt the online web comic he creates with his best friend, Eli. So things are going great. Ricky is enjoying life and his and Eli’s comic is moving to the next phase and on target to be published. Ricky just needs to keep his profile low and his reputation clean so that nothing interferes with their success. Then Ricky’s heat comes on strong and he begs Eli to go out with him—clubbing always helps to take the edge off. But his introverted buddy refuses and Ricky heads out alone. He ends up with a one-night stand, Jeff, who gives him way more than a night of pleasure.
Ricky is now pregnant and this could be the career ender both he and Eli never saw coming. Ricky is unbonded and the pregnancy turns out to be a risky one. Suddenly, everything is falling apart—secrets are revealed about Eli and his girlfriend; Jeff, the one-night stand baby daddy shows up; and the only way the guys can think of to salvage the comic’s chance of success is to become fake mates. But that decision isn’t the fix they hope for. Messy is here to stay and everyone is going to have to admit exactly how they feel if they hope not to crash and burn.
Penelope Peters novel, The Alpha’s Fake Mate, takes the omegaverse mpreg trope and gives it some interesting twists. This author does some very impressive world building that really gives the reader solid information about the characters she has created. I really appreciated that the story is more than just about the heat and pregnancy. I also loved that Ricky is the extrovert and seemingly stronger character—no meek omega here. There is also a lot of humor in this book. The guys are smart, yet nerdy, and the different situations like the runs to Target and the Chinese takeout scene are very funny.
This is definitely a slow burn romance. It takes quite a while to figure out just what makes Eli, and Ricky to a lesser extent, tick. There is also a healthy dose of angst surrounding Ricky’s risky pregnancy. It counterbalances the humor quite well. Honestly, as far as the interactions between Eli’s girlfriend, Eli, Ricky, and even Jeff go, I was on board and enjoying it all. But there are a few things in this story that didn’t quite gel for me.
To begin with, all the talk about the female anatomy as it refers to Ricky and then calling him “mom” is very strange. It was just a bit too much, making it uncomfortable to read about in the end. Like the reference to Ricky having a “hoo-hoo.” While that may sound funny, it just isn’t right—he is a man and forcing him into some sort of pseudo-female concept proved to be distasteful for me as a reader. I know it can be awkward describing the birth process in this trope, but saying that “motherhood suits him” and then apparently giving him a vagina—well that all seemed a bit over the top.
The other problem I had was the pacing of the story overall. There was a lot of waiting. Once I began to figure out that something was a little off, it felt like ages until it got resolved or became clearer through some sort of explanation. I get this novel is intended as a slow burn romance—something I actually enjoy reading—but there are times when I felt the unnecessary murkiness surrounding events or emotional moments just took too long to resolve. I did appreciate that the pacing allowed both Eli and Ricky to change and evolve as characters, but aside from that I felt this book should have been tightened up considerably.
The Alpha’s Fake Mate has some really fine moments with fully fleshed out characters who break the mold of the type we often see in mpreg novels. The romance that highlights friends to lovers is done well, and the humor sprinkled throughout the story helps offset the angst surrounding Ricky’s condition. With a bit of editing and less referencing to the female aspects of Ricky’s pregnancy, I think this could have been a really outstanding novel. As is, I think many might enjoy it and I know I will certainly look for other work by this author.