After aging out of the foster system, Jamie is living hand to mouth doing odd jobs as he travels across the country. Right now, he works as a bar back in rural Idaho. It’s not glamorous, but Jamie counts the bar’s bouncer, Jeff, among friends and gets to take advantage of the bar’s amenities while living out of his car. One day, however, a group of strangers rolls into town. Jamie thinks each one of them is more enormous than the last and, unfortunately, they seem to have egos to match. Their leader corners Jamie in the men’s room with a proposition Jamie is desperate to refuse. The guy can’t take no for an answer, leaving Jamie eager to find Jeff for help. Instead, however, Jamie lands in the arms of someone only slightly less enormous. But unlike the douche canoe from the bathroom, this blonde Adonis ticks everyone of Jamie’s boxes.
Asher is the Black Creek pack’s newly initiated alpha and is eager to prove he has the chops of a leader. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of internal discord in the wake of Asher‘s parents’ death, his dad being the former alpha for the whole pack. Freshly back from his parents’ funeral, Asher wants just one a night to unwind. Until a stunningly attractive human bumps into him, immediately piquing Asher’s interest. It turns out the human is trying to evade an over aggressive patrol who turns out to be another alpha wolf—one who Asher instantly pegs as being trouble, putting the kibosh on any sexy ideas he might have entertained for the human. Despite how fresh his family tragedy is, Asher has to lead his pack, one whose own Council has unilaterally not only invited these strange new wolves into their territory, but has done so explicitly for the purpose of having an omega mating hunt.
The hunt for prized omegas is an old tradition that most packs have left behind. Asher never wanted his pack to continue this barbaric tradition, but the Council effectively has his hands tied. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Asher’s forced to allow the hunt to continue. At first, he is mostly interested in ensuring that there are no injuries between the numerous alphas competing to find and mate a very small number of omegas. His plan to hold down the fort gets thrown out the window when Asher realizes that not only is the extraordinarily attractive human from the bar part of the hunt, but that that very human is his mate.
Human Omega is the first book in Jay L. North’s Black Creek Pack series. It’s set in the present day in rural Idaho and focuses on the pack of werewolves. Note, the werewolves in this universe do not shift fully into wolves, rather they take on lupine aspects like larger physical bodies and sexual endowments when feeling intense emotions. In addition to this shift in werewolf dynamics, the omega part of this universe allows male omegas to give birth. In other words, this is an mpreg story all the way.
As with many werewolf-themed stories, the romance between Jamie and Asher is very much a gimme. They both feel an instant draw upon first meeting, despite not understanding or recognizing the alpha/omega dynamic that develops between them. That dynamic appears as soon as the night of the hunt rolls around early in the book. There, Asher immediately recognizes who Jamie is to him and is consumed with the need to claim his mate. Similarly, once Asher fends off other would-be suitors, Jamie participates enthusiastically in their first mating. For those of us who like spice (and those of us who like monster-fucker themes), hold on to your hats because there is a load of smexy to enjoy as Asher and Jamie indulge in their instalove relationship.
I found North’s take on mpreg interesting. This facet of the lore is well detailed, albeit a little little puzzling. The best example of this stems from the fact that Asher did not give Jamie the mating bite upon their first full-moon coupling. This effectively leaves Jamie officially unclaimed. (Note, being an unclaimed omega has some hefty ramifications throughout the rest of the plot, too.) As far as the mpreg aspect goes, this also means that Jamie is not only horny as hell constantly, but he needs to ensure no fluid leaves his various bits after coitus or else he risks losing their pup. So yes, I thought that was a unique and very specific way of detailing how men get and stay pregnant in this universe. Incidentally, it was kind of horny-sweet how our two romantic leads actually discuss this aspect of their relationship and find a way to work with what they have (i.e. they invest in a butt plug so Asher can take a break from railing Jamie to take care of pack business).
As far as pacing goes, I thought North did a splendid job keeping me interested both in the romance between Jamie and Asher and in the larger conflict between Asher and the two groups who want to uphold patriarchal, archaic traditions. One of these groups is obviously represented by the Council in Asher’s pack, the handful of weres who go behind Asher’s back to arrange the omega hunt. The other group is, of course, the pack that actually travels around offering to organize omega hunts, including providing the omegas. The in-group fighting felt less resolved to me, even though Asher ultimately gets to show the Council who is in control. There is a bigger showdown between Asher and the main alpha from the hunter group. That acts as the main climax for the book. Overall, I felt like the out-group strife got dealt with very definitely, but the in-group strife is only superficially addressed. So, on the one hand, you get a very satisfying come-uppance for the out-group, but the root of Asher’s problem isn’t so cleanly eliminated from the in-group.
I also want to drop a trigger warning about the story. The two groups trying to oust Asher as pack leader see Jamie as an obvious pawn to use to manipulate Asher. Specifically, their machinations land Jamie in a situation where he very nearly gets raped. If this is something that you are sensitive to, I suggest you skip the bits at the end that take place in a remote cabin.
My only big critique of the story boils down to the author’s choice of transitions between chapters. It sometimes felt like there was a bigger “gap” than normal. One example that comes to mind is Those little opportunities to show characters interacting immediately following some significant plot event felt glossed over in these between chapter transitions.
Overall I’ve thought Human Omega was a fun, spicy read. There are some heavy themes and some readers may find the near-rape scene triggering. The main tone of the story, however, did not feel wet-blanket serious. This was greatly helped by Jamie’s sarcasm and levity. Between his tongue-in-cheek commentary and the almost sappy (and definitely steamy) love story between Asher and Jamie, the book feels more like a fun summer romp. It’s something you could easily finish in a weekend. If you enjoy werewolf themes, the omegaverse dynamic, fated mates, or books with lots of werewolf spice, I can absolutely recommend this book to you.