Tag Archives: Alpha challenge

Review of Trust (Running With Alphas #1), by Viola Rivard

Running With AlphasI picked up a copy of Viola Rivard‘s Trust: Running With Alphas from Amazon when it was free. It is part of my Alpha reading challenge.

Description from Goodreads:
Just when she thinks her life can’t get any worse, Taylor meets alpha wolf Alder – the most caring, gallant, and handsome man on the planet. On the run from the police, there’s no way she could possibly get involved with him. But somehow she does anyway.

Alder seems to be convinced that the two of them are going to live happily ever after in his mountain territory. But between looming pack wars, her dicey past, and his twin brother – the most obnoxious, sadistic, and handsome man on the planet – Taylor has a feeling that her new life among werewolves may be just as complicated as her human one.


This was surprisingly cute, which was a bit of a shock when I was expecting trashy erotica. But no complaints on that front. I have a soft spot for big alphas who shepherd, tend and fret over their mates, trying to feed them and such. Alder is just such a shifter, so he was a winner for me. I liked Taylor too, but Alder carried the book for me.

I did think the plot was a little shaky. You never find out the details of what Taylor is running from and I don’t get the feeling we ever will. It’s just a frame to hang the romance on. The characters were pretty shallow. The chemistry between the two wasn’t really shown. The mishap with Hale was predictable, there is a cliched female enemy and it’s a cliffhanger. But all in all, I was more pleased than I expected to be.

Review of Alpha’s Surprise Baby, by Kellan Larkin

Alpha's Surprise BabyI picked up a copy of Alpha’s Surprise Baby (by Kellan Larkin) from Amazon, when it was free. It was still free at the time of posting.

I’m currently reading all the books on my shelves that have Alpha in the title. I did all the Omegas a couple weeks ago and it didn’t feel complete, so I tagged this second phase onto the challenge.

Description from Goodreads:
His blonde hair, the colorful tattoos on his porcelain skin, and his sparkling amber eyes were all intoxicating, conspiring to create a man who I couldn’t get enough of.

Kade’s an Omega wolf who just happens to be a rock star. But when his second album is released to terrible reviews, he loses all his enthusiasm for going on tour. That changes when his newly hired bodyguard turns out to be his fated mate.

Alpha Xander is thrilled to have found the man he’s going to spend the rest of his life with. But he’s still healing from the pain caused by a cheating ex. When Kade gets pregnant, he has to step up and become the father his new baby needs.

Through a stressful tour, a heartrending kidnapping, and a thrilling rescue, Kade and Xander find that their love is tested beyond belief. Will the bond of the fated mates stay true?

Find out if they’ll find their happiness in this standalone novella with a HEA. No cheating, no cliffhangers. Inside, you’ll find a precious shifter baby and plenty of sugar and spice.

Wow, you guys, that was bad. I mean really, really bad. The mechanical writing is surprisingly good. There’s the occational editing error, but it’s much better than a lot of the indie books I’ve read. But man, it has the excitement, tension and grit of a fluffy, tutu wearing, 12-year-old ballerina. I found it almost impossible to stay invested in. If it had been longer I wouldn’t have been able to finish it. The writing is just incredibly flat. I mean like no excitement anywhere.

Here’s an example:

“Kade, you’re pregnant.”
“Damn. OK.”

And I didn’t even leave anything out. That’s it. Man finds out he’s accidentally pregnant and that’s it. That’s the response. Talk about a missed opportunity to build tension.

The whole book is like this. Found your fated mate? ‘Ok, I’ll get around to talking to him sometime next week, after I have some tacos and practice with the band a bit.’ Daughter gets kidnapped? ‘Oh well, might as well get on with life like normal the very next day.’ Rescued your daughter? ‘Oh, that’s nice. Want some grilled cheese?’ No buildup, no tension, no emotion. DULL!

And that sex scene! No foreplay at all. An anal passage that apparently self-lubricates somehow, a total shift in characters’ personalities during sex and a climax as thrilling as that pregnancy announcement was all a major let down.

There was no world-building at all, nothing to explain shifters, shifter society, shifters’ exposure or not, shifter biology (which in an Mpreg is kind of important), what makes an alpha and alpha and an omega an omega (despite inferring that these were somehow very different, with different expectations and abilities, and apparently they mate only alpha to omega and omega to alpha. What about all the other wolves? No idea.)

The characters were no more developed than the world. I have no idea what their ages were supposed to be, but they read like very juvenile young adults….that, you know, have really unexceptional sex. They had no history, no depth, no verve.

On a side note, this is very much the Omega’s Surprise Baby, not the Alpha’s. But whatever. All in all, this one is worth missing.

Review of The Alpha Meets His Match (Shifters, Inc. #1), by Georgette St. Clair

The Alpha Meets His MatchI picked up a free copy of Georgette St. Clair‘s The Alpha Meets His Match on Amazon. I believe it is perma-free.

I’m reading it as part of my Alpha Review challenge. I’m reading all the books on my shelves that include the word Alpha. I did Omegas a few weeks ago and it seemed like the thing to do to follow it up with Alphas.

Description from Goodreads:
Coyote shifter Bobbi Jo Simpson, top investigator for the Enforcer’s Council, is finally closing in on the ultimate prize: The Chemist, who’s been poisoning shifters all across the country for years. She’s the best at what she does, so what could possibly go wrong? Try: just about everything. She’s forced to partner up with the most stubborn, infuriating werewolf private investigator on the planet, who also happens to be her fated mate. Throw in a wily human thief who won’t stop trying to help her, a surly lion shifter who may be the death of her, a computer genius who knows too much about her…if she survives this case, it’ll be a miracle.

Wolf shifter Jax Mackenzie has never been accused of being a nice guy – but being nice doesn’t get the job done. A wolf without a pack, he works the most dangerous assignments doled out by a private security company – and his latest case is a real killer. A fatal Rage virus is spreading among the members of an elite BDSM club, and Jax is determined to get to the bottom of the case.

To get what he wants, he’ll ruthlessly use his supernatural strength, his wealthy connections, and Bobbi, the beautiful coyote shifter who’s following him for reasons of her own. But the coyote is his fated mate – and possibly his mortal enemy. Now it’s not just Jax’s heart that’s at risk – it’s his life.

I’m gonna be a Ranty Ranty McRanty-pants on this one I’m afraid.

So, this book was a total, total, TOTAL fail for me. It just includes every weak woman cliché that drives me crazy—the good girl who wanders into the slums and almost gets gang raped (except that she’s rescued by the hero), the woman who is given free drugs until she’s so addicted she’ll crawl and beg and blow three men while being humiliated and beaten for her next fix, the strong, capable, independent heroine who secretly just wants to submit to the big strong man, the need to force a woman in a sexually compromising position that she secretly enjoys, sexual humiliation as character development, and of course, enough gang rapes to keep me disgusted well into next year.

Having finished it, I can confidently say that there is not a single woman in this book who isn’t a sexual victim of some sort. Not one. Every female non-main character is either a blithering sex slave, a prostitute throwing herself mindlessly at a man or a rape victim (often more than once of those at once). The two main characters have both been sexually abused. Forget the Bechdel test, this fails life and as sad as it is to say, I bet the author doesn’t even realize this is the shit she wrote. It’s just that much of a norm in America.

It’s like rape and abuse of women is some sort of authorial shorthand for ‘bad man’ or ‘bad area.’ Want the reader to know the neighborhood is not just dangerous, but really dangerous? Rape a random ‘good girl.’ Gang rape her, even better. Never males though, this gives a different message. Want to ensure your reader knows your villain is truly irredeemable? Have him rape women. Maybe make him a drug lord who can systematically gang rape whole harems of drug addled women. That’ll surely get the message across.  I DON’T WANT TO READ SHORTHAND! And what’s more, I do not want to read a parade of clichéd female misery and victimhood.

Literally, every time Vaughn’s perspective came up I gave very serious consideration to giving up on the book. Not just because he was such a vile character, but because his vileness was so poorly written. Sure, he did horrible things, but they were things purposefully designed to bluntly telegraph **I am an evil man,** rather than to develop any sort of believable evil character.

I’d see Vaughn and think, “Great, now I have to sit through another gang rape and more abuse lobbed at mindless, defenseless women. I get it, he’s bad. Can we move on now?” And you know what, I was right every freakin’ time. Scenes with Vaughn were universally abusive, derogatory, rape scenes. It shouldn’t be so freakin’ predictable.

At 37% into the book, I made myself a note of how unimpressed I was with this common use of women in books; how I didn’t expect to see a single female character that wasn’t a victim of some sort and that by the end the author would put the heroine in the hands of this rapist villain. If she just wanted to give the hero a chance to save her (because she wouldn’t save herself) he’d get there in time. If the author wanted to add the extra shine to his character, he wouldn’t get there until she’d been raped. Then he could be such a good man that he’s willing to love a sullied woman. PEOPLE, I SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO PREDICT THE EVENTS OF A BOOK SO WELL AT 37% THAT I EVEN KNOW THE SUBTEXT THE AUTHOR WANTS ME TO READ FROM THEM! At least the author took the first option. That was a relief.

On a less horrendously offensive note, I was annoyed when the mission required the characters pose as a couple in a BDSM club. Of course, with no conversation, she’s automatically the sub and he’s the dom; because obviously women are submissive and men are dominant. Riiiight. Wouldn’t want to include anything that isn’t trite and predictable. How many times have uncomfortable female characters had to dress in slinky clothing and go to sexy clubs with men as part of an investigation in books? How many times have they secretly enjoyed it? I swear I’ve read this EXACT scene a dozen times. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written this exact same question into at least one other review. It really does get old and it’s not even a little titillating. I’m just bored by more of the same.

And that’s the thing about this book. Everything in it has been seen before. If the rapes had been scaled back I probably would have just been annoyed instead of disgusted. But to have to read over-used, under-developed, badly edited, bog standard, poor PNR tropes on top of rape wallpaper? No, just NO, in big, fat, bold capital letters.