Rating: 5 stars
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Alpha Gray Collins left home at his father’s urging. His father loved him, but saw only death in his son’s future if he challenged the pack alpha. Gray didn’t want to leave, but he couldn’t stay and so, with a heavy heart, he left to live among the humans, serving in the military and using his shifter senses — discretely — to help protect his brothers in arms. But his tour of duty is over and Gray is pondering what to do with his life when he is called home at the urgent request of two betas. Gray’s father has died at the hands of the pack alpha and the betas beg Gray to come home and save them.
Harris Shoals Pack is ruled by a tyrant who uses his teeth rather than his words, who rules through violence and cruelty. While facing down his pack’s alpha, Gray meets eyes of a boy, too young and fragile to be anything but an omega. Too young and fragile to endure the life that shifters force omegas to live, kept in harems, beaten, abused, and misused until either their spirits die, or they do. But this omega doesn’t duck his head and doesn’t flinch. With eyes as blue as an arctic sky, he dares Gray to save him. To tear down the despot and challenge the pack’s orthodoxy. To find a new way for the pack to live, to change the world.
And for those blue eyes, for Lucas, Gray would do anything.
Eight years later, Gray is in charge of one of the largest and most prestigious packs in America. His pack thrives with outsiders constantly asking to join, with pups everywhere, and more homes being built for growing families every season. And, standing at his side, as constant as the pull of the moon, is Lucas. Until, one day, he isn’t, and Gray’s world falls apart.
Never Underestimate an Omega is, unfortunately, a stand alone book. I have enjoyed all of the Eden Winters books I’ve read, and they can always be counted on for detailed world building, well-developed characters, a sharp sense of humor, and a good dose of romance. And this book is no exception. For all that it’s a book dealing with omegas and alphas, I’m not sure it counts as an omegaverse. While the ranks are biological — Gray seems to have been born an alpha, as Logan was born an omega — there is no breeding imperative or heats, and no mpreg. (Though there is a mention that the shifters can, and do, enjoy themselves in both human skin and animal fur.) Here, the focus is more on the roles Logan plays in his pack, and how a pack is shaped by members of all ranks.
Lucas was sent away from his birth pack when the pack alpha took too sharp interest in the young omega child. He ended up in the Harris Shoals Pack territory where Leon, the alpha at the time, took a liking to him. Leon was, fortunately, forced to wait on claiming Lucas into his harem until Lucas could shift and was killed before he could do much more than cast a few leering glances Lucas’ way. Knowing this, Gray is reluctant to put any romantic pressure on Lucas, not wanting the omega to think his only purpose is to warm Gray’s bed. Also, when they first met, Lucas was 16 to Gray’s 20-something age, and Gray put a firm distance between them of pack alpha and administrative assistant.
Lucas, though, and his wolf, still pine after Gray. And Gray tries so hard not to notice how he and his own wolf feel about Lucas, even as the rest of the pack already knows that the two of the are soul mates. And this would be all light and fluffy and a cute romance if it weren’t for the complex shifter politics, the kidnapping, the secret Gray and Lucas are keeping from the pack, the pack elders, and Gray being too much of a gentleman to ever want Lucas to feel uncomfortable around him.
Gray is an alpha, though not in the aggressive, dominant sense. Instead, he’s a protector of the pack, the kind who eats only when he knows everyone else has enough, who watches to make sure a cub shifts for the first time, who welcomes elders to his pack because he values the knowledge they have. Yes, he’ll fight, but he’d rather change a rival’s mind than end his life. Despite how much he loves his pack and everyone in it, Gray would leave them all behind in a heartbeat if that’s what Lucas needed. But Lucas, being an omega, cares. He cares for the pack, using the softness and perceived weakness of his omega status to charm, cajole, and coax the betas, gammas, and deltas into doing what needs to be done. Together, Lucas and Gray are excellent at caring for the pack. They’re just not so good at caring for themselves. Fortunately for Lucas, Gray wants to take care of him …and Lucas wants to take care of Gray. If they’d only give each other a chance, maybe they could find as much happiness as their pack has.
The writing, the humor, and the depth of the story are perfect. In essence, this is a slice-of-life story about how a shifter pack works, it just takes place in two different packs with a kidnapping somewhere in there. There are politics, close-minded bigots, and hints at a greater and more complex world that I hope the author chooses to revisit. This is a great, low-angst, high-fluff shifter story that I highly recommend and hope you enjoy.
This sounds great, Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm!
If you decide to give this a chance, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I love this review so much, because it matches everything I loved about this book! I too and sad that it’s (theoretically) a one-off – Winters has created a great world here filled with interesting characters, and I’d love to read more!
If she ever writes a sequel – or even a book in this same universe – it’ll be an auto-buy for me. I just loved how the packs worked and didn’t work, and how much empathy was present in the whole story. This was just like, a warm hug for the soul.