Saturday, May 25, 2013

Series Review: Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs (#2 & 3)

I recently posted my reviews for the first two books in this spin-off series HERE. And though I loved those books, these two installments were just phenomenal! All of them are spoiler-free, but you can read my reviews for the Mercy Thompson Series HERE if you'd like. 

Title: Hunting Ground (A&O, #2) 

Author: Patricia Briggs

Rating: 4 Stars

It physically pained me to finish Hunting Ground because I knew I'd have to say goodbye to Anna and Charles until Fair Game, which I unfortunately don't get to read until after I finish Silver Borne and River Marked. Just one of the few downsides to entering a series late and having to read the books - spin-off series included - in order. Nevertheless, while Cry Wolf left me with a slightly puzzled expression, Hunting Ground made up for that slight disappointment, delivering the type of novel I've come to expect from Patricia Briggs.

For me, what makes this spin-off series so special is Anna and Charles. Although secondary characters don't receive the type of limelight they manage to snatch in the MT Series, I find that this spin-off batch doesn't need them to carry the plot forward. With MT, Briggs strikes a delicate balance between secondary characters, carefully timed clues, and character development - all which works perfectly for Mercy and Adam, keeps us riveted to the page, and ends off with a bang. With Alpha & Omega, however, the majority of the novel is focused on Anna and Charles with a surge of action solving the mystery at hand towards the end. Although my main issues from this series still happen to stem from the drawn-out plot threads which all seem to focus on the last quarter of these novels, Hunting Ground was much better balanced than Cry Wolf was. Granted, I still wished for a slightly quicker resolution, not to mention a better explanation than a list of details running through Charles's mind, all very sloppily thrown on the page, but these are excuses I can forgive in light of the rest of this novel.

Hunting Ground focuses on a diplomatic meeting between the wolves of America and Europe as they plan to finally come out to the world, but against this backdrop of werewolf politics, vampires and fae lurk. And where vampires and fae reside, there's bound to be murder. Briggs definitely had a stronger hold on me with the plot in this installment and, even better, she had me with her characters too. While Anna and Charles always steal the show, I enjoyed the cast of secondary characters in this, particularly the European werewolves. Yet, what makes Hunting Ground such a large success for me is the understanding reached between Anna and Charles. Anna has proven that she is no timid rabbit but can, in fact, take care of herself. Thus, the leeway Charles gives her in this novel is a relief to his rather irritating dominance in the previous book. What makes Charles Charles is still very much present in this book, but his understanding and appreciation for Anna is greater, which strikes a more equal footing between them.

Moreover, I feel like I finally understand both Charles and Anna. In Cry Wolf, I had a difficult time sympathizing with Charles's insecurities, but his feelings of being perceived as nothing more than a killer was obvious and pulled on my heartstrings. Additionally, the mating bond between Anna and Charles is explored in greater detail, which just went to make me fall even harder for this couple. Anna and Charles's relationship is so different from that of Adam and Mercy's, mostly because Charles is not the Alpha of a pack and, as such, has fewer responsibilities than Adam. As newly-weds, though, Anna and Charles were simply adorable and the comfort to be garnered, even from reading about their time together, is unforgettable.

All in all, it is evident that Briggs just keeps amping up the stakes and the depth to her characters. Although Charles is the dominant in his relationship, it is Anna who somehow manages to steal the show with her quick wit, inner strength, and ultimate goodness. My hands are simply itching to latch onto Fair Game and skip the next two MT novels, but I have more control than that. I think. Either way, from what I've heard, Fair Game is about to be the best installment yet.

Title: Fair Game (A&O, #3) 

Author: Patricia Briggs

Rating: 5 Stars

There isn’t much I can say about Fair Game that can’t be summoned up in one word: PERFECT. Charles and Anna have both come such a long way from when we first met them, both mentally and physically. While Hunting Ground finally saw the physical fruit of their relationship – their joyous honeymoon season, filled with understanding and happiness - Fair Game sees the harsh reality of a marriage that isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. With its first chapter itself, Fair Game crushed my heart, shattering it into a billion pieces. Needless to say, the most recent Alpha & Omega novel is both emotional and action-packed, upping the stakes in every possible way and delivering even more successfully. 

Fair Game finally gives us the heart-wrenching rift between Charles and Anna that we’ve all been waiting for, without even realizing it. After years of being his father’s Wolfkiller, Charles is tired, alone, and guilty. At this point in his life, all Charles can do is shut out everyone around him – including Anna. Unable to reach her husband, despite being an Omega wolf, Anna seeks the help of the Marrok – only to come away empty handed. Bran refuses to see the extent of his son’s wounds, the ghosts that haunt him, but does give him a break, sending him to Boston to help the FBI on a serial killer case in which three werewolves have also been murdered. For the first time, though, Anna and Charles may truly be in danger – not only from the serial killer, but also from each other. 

What makes Fair Game such a huge leap for this series is the mere fact that its characters have embedded themselves into our flesh. At this point in the series, I know Anna and Charles just as well as I do Mercy and Adam, despite having spent half as much time with them. While Mercy and Adam’s story is a slow build-up of simmering heat and internal issues, Anna and Charles’s story is more of the loud crash-and-burn journey afterwards, which, frankly speaking, I like a lot more. Anna, especially, is for me a much more realized character than Mercy is, perhaps because I find her voice so much easier to relate to. I admire her quiet and cool demeanor, all while respecting the fierce strength that hides beneath that façade. 

And in Fair Game, Anna really comes into her own. What I love about this series is that I use that statement with every novel – and it’s true, every time. With every journey Anna undertakes, she grows and changes and proves herself over and over again and still we know it will never be enough for she, as all humans, will still have so much more to change. In this installment especially, Anna finally takes charge, doing her best to help Charles who is so far into himself that it seems as if he cannot be helped. With her persistent nature, though, Anna never gives up on Charles and the manner in which her relationship with him is interwoven into a dark tale of murder and torture is seamlessly done. Neither aspects of the story overtake, allowing Anna and Charles’ relationship to bloom into something deeper just as they delve closer to the heart of the crime at hand. In Fair Game, more than any other novel, we can see just how far Patricia Briggs has come as a writer – and it is spectacular. 

Not to be outdone, though, Charles is just as prominent in this tale as Anna. Although I’ve often felt as if he’s been overshadowed by the memory of Adam, lingering in the dark recess of our brain (or not-so-dark if you’re like me and just think ADAM HAUPTMAN during random moments during the day), or simply by his role in these books as the protector, in Fair Game, Patricia Briggs finally made me fall head-over-heels for Charles. I always liked him, sure, but I may have swooned a couple of times in this one. I, for some reason, find a man infinitely more attractive when we can see the vulnerabilities that make him who he is and seeing the role reversals in this novel, as Anna tried so hard to be the protector from her husband’s guilt and fear, was nothing short of beautiful. Granted, the mystery in this book is easily the best of all the novels Briggs has written and there are huge repercussions by the end of this installment for the entire Mercyverse, but more than anything else, it is the relationship between these two incredibly real and well-fleshed leads that keeps me coming back for more. If nothing else, Fair Game has made me seriously reconsider whether shirtless Adam is the best Patricia Briggs can offer because after this installment, I just want MOAR. (Not shirtless Adam, although hell knows I wouldn’t complain about that, but I meant more books like this. WANT WANT WANT.)   


  1. See for me Charles is my favorite wolf in all the books. I like him a great deal more than Adam and was happy to see him stepping into the spotlight a bit as these books go on.

  2. Keertana, I absolutely love how very well you describe the strengths of each of these installments. The characters, as you describe them, seem to come alive, and I'd read this series based on that alone. Plus, if an author can give us a man with true vulnerability that makes us weak in the knees?! Hands down, I'm sold! Lovely reviews! :)

  3. I LOVED this series! I'm so glad you enjoyed it as well! Great review! Very well thought out and i'd have to say for me, I dont think charles is overshadowed by Adam at all, i actually prefer his characters :)

    Danielle @ Coffee and Characters

  4. I must start this series!! It sounds like I need to work my way through Mercy Thompson first, though. I'm so excited, Keertana! I need to clear some time and get on it! I can't wait to meet all these characters! Lovely reviews, Keertana! :)

  5. First thing I'll do when I feel like reading UF is go through your blog! You seem to read some great UF books :) I've seen your review of previous books in this series and I must say that I'm really curious about this series. Great reviews Keertana :)

  6. You mean there are people who DON'T think of Adam at totally inappropriate moments every day? Those are some strange people, I tell you.
    I agree that Fair Game is the best book Briggs has written (although she thinks it's Frost Burned). It's so well done on both sides, the private, relationship parts AND the murder mystery. It's practically flawless as far as UF goes and I'm glad you loved it as much as you did.
    And I actually agree about Anna and Mercy. I have so much love for my Mercy, but she is calculating at times, always three steps ahead of everyone else. Anna is competent too, but she acts emotionally and I find that easier to relate to.
    Wonderful reviews, my love!

  7. AHHHHHHH!!! Cannot wait for Fair Game Keertana! I so love Anna and Charles (almost as much as I love Mercy and Adam), so I need to hurry up and read Fair Game. I'd forgotten about their story for a while since there was a fairly significant gap in between the release dates for book two and this book, but now that I've read your review I have to run out and buy it:) 5 star read here I come!

  8. I'm SO behind on this series. While it doesn't bother me to read SOME series out of order, I know this one is best when read that way. So need to catch up to Fair Game! You have me drooling for it and I haven't read Hunting Ground (which you have me drooling for that one as well).

  9. I, for some reason, find a man infinitely more attractive when we can see the vulnerabilities that make him who he is

    Yes! I do, too. I'm glad to hear you finally fell head over heels for Charles in Fair Game. ;) I really need to catch up with this series soon (the list is never-ending!), but I can't wait now after these reviews. I'm glad you enjoyed both of these, Keertana!

  10. I have heard of this author many times before but never read any of her books. I am not sure why but I am going to the library this weekend and may have to check some of them out. Thank you for such a wonderful review. :)

    Irene (Hunting and Fishing Stores)

  11. LOVED THIS BOOK! Patricia Briggs has created such an amazing world with characters to become enchanted with. This was my favorite of the Alpha and Omega so far.

    Zaira Lynn (CashFund)


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