The first words Junsu Sun says to his mother on seeing a picture of the lovely Omega are: “He doesn’t seem like he could pose much of a threat, but if you need him dealt with it shouldn’t be too—” To be fair, with Junsu being who he is and his mother being who she is, it shouldn’t be an unexpected comment. More often than not, as the son of Luxor City’s Alpha, a woman who controls a powerful empire, he’s given problems to solve, and people to remove … not wedding proposals.
As one of the few high ranking Alphas left unmarried, Junsu Sun is rare game, indeed. He’s handsome, powerful, and accomplished. Trained by his mother, a woman known for her vicious and vindictive temper and ruthless and unforgiving approach to anything and anyone in her way, he has become a skilled politician and tactician. His people follow him without question, and he can go from illicit Mahjong game to a high society party with ease. And now he’s going to go from bachelor to husband.
The Yamaguchi family, a family more wealthy, more powerful, and more feared, have — for the first time in centuries — produced an Omega: Kaito Yamaguchi. For this beloved son, they want only the best. Someone who can protect him, someone who can pamper him and spoil him. And, of course, someone who will strengthen their network of political allies. And they’ve chosen Junsu.
Junsu is prepared to escort a proper, quiet, shy Omega back home to his mother. What he gets, instead, is Kai, whose tattoos and teeth are in full display. A whim — and the desire for mischief — has Junsu giving his mate a different name than his own and play the bodyguard. Why not take the time to get to know who his mate truly is? But Kai is falling for his bodyguard in a way that leaves Junsu breathless and lost.
This story is a follow-up to The Empires of Luxor City, though it is meant to be a standalone. While two characters from the previous book make an appearance, you don’t need to have read their story to follow along with Kai and Junsu’s adventures. This story takes place is an alternate world where people are either Alphas, Betas, or Omegas — no to shifting, but yes to knotting — and crime families are the great powers in the two great continents and the great island, analogous to North America, China, and Japan.
Junsu is a thoughtful man, quick on his feet and unused to having to work too hard for what he wants. With his name and his wealth, and his strength as an Alpha, he’s never had to truly court someone. It’s not that he’s above it — Junsu will always do his duty for his family — it’s just not how he’s used to doing things. He’s quick to sympathize with his future mate. After all, they’re both being forced into a bonding neither of them asked for, but Kaito is the one having to leave everything behind. Not just his family, but his whole life, his culture, his people. Is it any wonder he’s on edge, snapping at everyone? At times Junsu is attentive, trying to suss out who Kai is beneath his mask and to soothe and befriend Kaito, and at others he’s walking into a room like he owns it, forgetting to put on the polite “I’m only a bodyguard mask.”
Kaito isn’t overly introspective. Taller and lankier than most Omegas, and on his own for the first time in forever, Kaito is out of his depth. This is his last week before he’s locked into a mating and someone else’s house, forced to be the proper Omega. To smile, to bow, to do honor to both the Yamaguchis and the Suns. And he hates it. Hates the lovely little Omegas who look like they’re supposed to, who act like they’re supposed to. His only comfort is the bodyguard he gets to order around, who treats him with compassion and understanding.
To be honest, Omegaverse books aren’t always my cup of tea. The power dynamics and the use of the biological imperative to override common sense or communication don’t always work for me, but this one hit the sweet spot. While this book delves into much of the standard dimorphism of strong and assertive Alpha versus fragile and bratty Omega, it didn’t go too far into the stereotype. Kai is arrogant, haughty, and demanding, but it never crosses into bratty, and when he calms down and feels more secure, he can be playful and clever, able to manipulate others with intelligence rather than scent. Junsu is an Alpha, but even when he’s angry, it’s a cold and tightly focused anger. He never overpowers Kai, never bullies him into bed, but, and for me it’s a strong but, he does lie to him.
Kai thinks he’s falling into bed with his bodyguard, someone who has become a friend and protector.He finds out, of course, and when he does he’s angry, but it’s never resolved. Because they’re a bonded pair, because Junsu is an Alpha, it’s all … okay?
That is the only part of this book I had an issue with. Otherwise, the writing is good, the pacing is focused and tight, and the humor was spot on, for me. Junsu and Kai are snarky, and their rapport felt natural, based on liking one another rather than simply liking how each other smelled. I really enjoyed this book, and I think that this is a nice, easy entry point to Omegaverse, for those who are on the fence about the genre.