Rating: 3.75 stars
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Jake has stopped at a bar on the way back to his pack lands when he spots a gorgeous, silver-haired omega. The alpha in Jake is immediately drawn to the man, and when the guy indicates interest, Jake follows him out into the alley for a hook-up. Little does Jake expect to find himself attacked by shifter hunters — or to realize that the omega is working with them against his own kind. Jake manages to kill the hunters, but the fight ends up triggering the omega’s heat. As much as he detests the man for trying to kill him, Jake knows he can’t leave the omega in that vulnerable state, so he take the man with him back to the pack. Along the way, however, the omega’s need — and Jake’s own desire — become too much, and Jake can’t resist giving in to the allure of the sexy omega.
When Jake returns home, it becomes clear that there is more going on than just an omega fighting against his own kind. He learns that the omega, named Fitz, was raised by hunters and he seems to have zero experience interacting with shifters as more than the enemy. Fitz has also clearly been abused and mistreated by the hunters, and is terrified of Jake and his pack. As much as Jake wants to be furious at Fitz, his heart also goes out to the young shifter who survived such a horrible experience. Jake and his inner wolf would love nothing more than to care for Fitz and claim him as his own. Of course, it is not that easy, as Fitz does not understand anything about shifter relationships. Not to mention, he also won’t stop trying to kill Jake…
Hunted by the Omega is an entertaining shifter/omegaverse story. It takes place in the same world as some of S. Rodman’s other shifter books, including the Darkstar Pack series and All Rail the King. We get a couple of side character crossovers, including an appearance by Silas Northstar and the Council, but it is not necessary to have read the other books to enjoy this one (I came into this one cold and had no problems). The set up for this story drew me in right away, as I loved the role reversal of this tiny but powerful omega who is dangerous to the big strong alpha, not to mention the idea of a shifter fighting against his own kind. The story plays this all out well and there is a nice enemies-to-lovers tension that slowly builds into a connection between the men. I also liked the larger shifter world and think the pack elements are built nicely, as well as the alpha/omega dynamics that lead into the relationship development for Fitz and Jake. So I thought there was some overall nice world building on the shifter/omegaverse end that plays well, particularly as Fitz is so unaware of the reality of the shifter world that we can learn a lot along with him.
The area that felt less well developed is the magical side. We are told that Jake is a “magic weaver,” but given no idea what that actually means or told anything about his powers, other than they are not strong in healing. Jake’s magic mostly seems to come into play when convenient, without a lot of consistency. For example, at one point Fitz threatens someone with a knife and Jake is able to use his magic to just disintegrate it. But then later, Jake has a knife to his throat and is sure he is going to die. So why can’t he destroy the knife with magic that time? We also see a similar scene when early on Jake destroys a crossbow aimed at him using magic, but then later when he sees a hunter with a crossbow nearby, he notes they could kill him with it before he could get away. So again, why not destroy it with his magic like he did before? This just seemed like magic when convenient to the plot, without really developing the rules or any world building.
There is a nice enemies-to-lovers dynamic to this story that I enjoyed overall. These men hate each other, but are also clearly drawn to each other. The story is told largely from Jake’s POV, so we don’t know a lot about what Fitz is thinking, which I think works well. It allows us as readers to discover what is going on in his head (and in his past) largely at the same time as Jake, which lets the reality of his situation slowly unfold. Rodman does a nice job building the sexual and emotional connection between them, and I could believe these men wanted each other, despite believing it was a bad idea to be together. I liked the idea of these two men being drawn to one another so strongly emotionally and sexually, even as large parts of them were at odds with each other. I’ll note that there is some dubious consent here, as there are multiple scenes where Fitz is out of his mind with heat lust or other emotion-driven situations and can’t fully consent. It seems pretty clear that he wants these encounters, but at times Jake isn’t sure Fitz is able to give consent and worries about forcing him into sex, even unintentionally. So be aware if this is a sensitive area for you.
The way the story parses out information works to its advantage, as it is clear that the men are operating from totally different frames of reference, yet don’t always realize it. But I did find that the story gets hung up on large failures to communicate. The biggest issue is that Fitz is clearly operating under little to no understanding of the shifter world, or even of himself as a shifter. It makes sense early on that Jake, who has no frame of reference for someone like Fitz, naturally assumes Fitz understands their world. But it becomes clear quickly that is not the case, yet we see virtually zero effort by anyone to actually explain anything to him. No matter how many times Jake realizes Fitz’s actions or thoughts are based on misunderstanding, he never just sits him down and gives him the information he needs. Nor does he really ask any questions of Fitz to better understand his background. So we get a lot of repetitive encounters where they are together, something sets Fitz off, he flees, Jake realizes Fitz misunderstood, and then we repeat over and over. I also was disappointed that we never get any details on Jake’s own backstory, as we learn his pack was killed by hunters and I kept waiting for the time when he explains what happened, but it is never addressed.
So I do think there are some story elements that need more development, as well as some holes in the world building. But that said, I found this one really kept me entertained and I enjoyed the story a lot. You have to like the omegaverse style, with lust-fueled heats and alpha/omega dynamics, but if you are a fan of that type of story, I think there is a lot to like about this one. I would definitely check out more books in this world and found this one to be an appealing story.