Concurrently with her MERCY THOMPSON urban fantasy series about a coyote shapeshifter and her adventures with werewolves, vampires, fae and other supernatural beings, Patricia Briggs has been writing the ALPHA AND OMEGA series about an “Omega” werewolf, who has unique powers for a werewolf. This novella introduces Anna, a seemingly submissive, sexually and physically abused werewolf in an appalling mess of a pack in Chicago. Anna was unwillingly turned into a werewolf three years ago and her life has been miserable since. But when she reads an newspaper article about a missing teenager and realizes that this is the same boy she had seen in a werewolf cage in the pack leader’s home, she drums up her courage and finally telephones Bran, the Montana-based “Marrok” or leader of all the werewolf packs in North America, to let him know that she had seen the boy.
Kidnappings and turning unwilling people into werewolves being against the strict rules governing werewolf society, the Marrok immediately arranges for Charles, his half-Native American son and his enforcer/hit man, to meet Anna. Charles’ dual mission: protect Anna from her out-of-control pack and clean up the situation in Chicago. Love wasn’t supposed to be part of that mission ― and Anna’s history of abuse for the past three years has damaged her psyche and her trust in men.
Alpha and Omega is a solid, if not extraordinary, beginning to the ALPHA AND OMEGA series. It introduces you to Anna and Charles and gives some important insights into their pasts and their characters, as well as werewolf culture and its rules and restrictions generally, and it sets the stage for Cry Wolf, the novel that is next in the series, which picks up immediately after the events in this novella. In fact, if you plan to read the series, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t read this novella first. Without it, the beginning of Cry Wolf is abrupt, and it’s much harder to immerse yourself in their world and their problems. Personally, I would have preferred this novella’s content being added to the start of Cry Wolf rather than being sold as a separate work. Although it’s a necessary piece to the puzzle, by itself the story of Alpha and Omega feels incomplete and its ending, while not a cliff-hanger, will leave you scrambling for the next book.
This Alpha and Omega novella is available on a stand-alone as an ebook and in Audible form. It’s also available as part of the On the Prowl anthology, which contains three additional urban fantasy novellas from other authors. Unfortunately, the other stories in On the Prowl ― Inhuman by Eileen Wilks, Buying Trouble by Karen Chance, and Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny ― aren’t up to the level of Alpha and Omega. Like this story, the others are romance-oriented urban fantasies and are all parts of a series. All of them are set further into their respective series and are tough to get into without having read the authors’ previous works in the series. I didn’t find any of them absorbing enough to read more than a third of the way through, even with the shorter novella length, although Buying Trouble was the most readable and seems more likely to appeal to other fantasy romance readers. Additionally, the level of sexual explicitness rises with each story in the anthology, culminating with the fantasy erotica that is Mona Lisa Betwining. When the main character is having non-committal and highly explicit sex with more than one partner, that’s pretty much an automatic book-closer for me. If On the Prowl is available at your local library, I recommend checking it out so you can read Alpha and Omega, but you may want to give the rest of that anthology a pass, as I did, unless you’re already into those other authors’ series.