Kade’s alpha father abused his Papa and tried to force Kade into an unwanted mating and pregnancy. Both Kade and his Papa managed to escape the pack, but Papa had to fake his own death and Kade hasn’t seen him or his sister in years. Kade has been on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of his father who is hunting him, hoping to use Kade as bait to lure his mate back home. Kade tries to avoid too much interaction with the local Sweetwater pack, as he worries that will make it easier for his father to find him — not to mention the pack has a bad reputation for its treatment of omegas by the former alpha. But now, Kade’s job as a delivery person is forcing him to enter Sweetwater territory.
Blake is the new, young, alpha of the Sweetwater pack, having taken over from his father. Blake believes omegas are the heart of a pack and does all he can to take care of them and to restore his pack’s reputation. When he meets Kade, Blake knows they are meant to be mates, but Kade is wary. He has learned to be fearful of alphas after multiple betrayals. Kade has also learned that the magic he was using to keep himself hidden from his father has affected his health, and potentially his fertility. As much as he likes Blake, Kade worries that he can never be a good Alpha Mate if he can’t bear children.
The pull between Kade and Blake is so strong, they decide to at least try out a relationship. Blake is all in and wants nothing more than to be with Kade. And Kade is learning how sweet and kind Blake is, and how he cares for him unconditionally. But with Kade’s father still hunting him, the couple’s chance at happiness is still at risk.
His Reluctant Omega Mate is the first book in Jax Stuart’s Sweetwater Pack series and my introduction to the author’s work. This is a cute story that sets up the series nicely and gives us a chance to get to know the pack. This world has a lot of the familiar beats of omegaverse stories, but I liked the addition of magic, as well as the various types of shifters incorporated into the world building. However, I did find some of the world building confusing at times, such as they way things work at the heat club, and some problems get smoothed over with convenient or easy explanations (such as why the council knows about all Kade’s father’s misdeeds but can’t stop him or arrest him). But overall, I think the world building worked for the story, even if it isn’t super detailed or developed.
Kade and Blake are sweet together and I liked how patient and doting Blake is as Kade gets past his nerves. There is a nice twist here in that Blake is an inexperienced virgin, so that adds a fun element as Blake tries to prepare for his first time with an omega. I also liked how the story combines fated mates with the men getting a chance to get to know one another before committing. I did find the character voice felt a little interchangeable though. We have chapters from both MCs (as well as a few from side characters) and even with the POV character identified, I found myself often forgetting whose chapter I was reading.
I also found the focus gets pulled away from Blake and Kade’s relationship, especially early on, by Kade’s relationship with his boss, Dakota. Dakota is attracted to Kade and he is presented as this guy who is creeping Kade out with his unwanted interest. As the story opens, Dakota is calling Kade into his office to discuss his new delivery route and Kade is so worried about being alone with him, he brings in his friend and union rep to be a buffer. Then, suddenly, the switch flips and Dakota is basically Kade’s best friend, helping him recover from illness, cuddling in bed together, introducing him to his pack, etc. It was just a strange set up to me that Dakota starts out as this creepy guy that Kade is scared to be alone with one moment, and suddenly Kade can’t be without him. The early part of the story has so much focus on the two of them that Blake is barely involved. So I just think there needed more balance here between the Kade/Dakota relationship and the Kade/Blake one (though as I suspected, Dakota is being set up for his own relationship in the next book, so that may explain his significant role here).
The other area that felt off is that the story sets up this idea that Kade is being hunted by his father as a way to lure in his Papa, who is in hiding. How his father knows his Papa isn’t really dead is unclear. His father also tried to force Kade to mate with his boyfriend and get pregnant when Kade wasn’t ready, which is part of why Kade fled. So first off, I found it odd that once Kade’s father finds him, he never mentions or seems to even care about finding Papa, when this was supposedly his primary goal. I also really didn’t understand why Kade’s father cared so much who he mated, or why Roan was the man he chose for him in the first place. I never really understood the motivation for all of Kade’s father’s actions or what his end goal was, and that was an issue given that his hunting for Kade drives so much of the conflict.
Just as a final note, this story does touch on the possibility of infertility and Kade’s feelings of inadequacy if he is unable to bear children. If this is a sensitive area, be aware when deciding whether to pick this one up.
Overall, I think this story works for a light, easy, omegaverse story. I didn’t find the author’s style totally worked for me, and there were some areas that felt underdeveloped or just tidily brushed aside. But if you are an omegaverse fan, there is a nice cast of characters here and this could be an entertaining series to check out.