Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire. ” — goodreads
“For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way…
The Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs always turns out some wonderful stories about Anna and Charles, who are a mated werewolf pair. The books consistently get wonderful ratings, generally over 4 stars, but under 5. However, considering the publish date between the third book, (Fair Game, 6 March 2012), and this one, which is the fourth book in the series, (3 March 2015), I had to do some back-reading to make sure my memory was on-point.
As a note, it is a series that needs to be read in order, (I’ll provide links at the bottom), and the first introduction we get to the two is actually in a short story compilation, On the Prowl.
Dead Heat begins with a tidbit on the bad guys for the book, the Fae, though not so much information that we get everything that is going on. Then we move on to Charles and Anna, and as the blurb above states, they head down to Arizona to visit some friends from Charles’ past to get Anna a horse for her birthday. The inciting event occurs the same day they come in, with a deadly interaction between a mother, Chelsea–who is married to the grandson, Kage, of the Salt River Pack Alpha, Hosteen–and her children, Max, Michael, and Mackie. This turns a birthday present trip/blast from Charles’ past, into a Fae-hunt to save children, because we all know that the Fae have a dangerous soft-spot where human children are concerned.
For the most part, I delighted in reading this book. Patricia Briggs, (PB), is a magnificent storyteller, who paces her character development and plot very well. We still see a flash of Anna’s abusive past and how it impacts her, which I expect given it’s only been three years since Charles rescued her, and it makes her a much more believable character. However, her progress is probably not as realistic in a real-world setting, but we can attribute her development to the nature of her being an Omega.
It was also lovely to get some more of Charles’ past, and insight into why he’s balking at Anna’s latest character turn–children. What was interesting for me was the mention of them potentially using surrogacy, because I’m a surrogate myself. So, it was pretty wicked to see an idea I’ve had tumbling in my head for most main characters who have one issue, or another, with having children, mention the use of a surrogate. I’d love to see an author take a more serious turn in this direction, but that is likely based in personal feelings more than anything else.
We also got a visit from a character in a previous book, Special Agent Leslie Fisher, FBI, which I was pleased by, because she’s a great character. Not to mention we finally got to meet some Cantrip agents that weren’t complete jerks, and actually helped, giving the readers another side of the agency to consider. I’m not saying you should trust the guys, but at least they weren’t horrible people this time around.
For the most part we got happy endings, or at least just as much as we expected, and I was glad to see that PB made an effort to wrap up the little side stories going on throughout.
As for the cons of the book, there were admittedly few. My biggest issue with the book, and from other reviews it seems as though I wasn’t the only one, was all the technical horse jargon. Though most was done from Anna’s point of view, who confessed to being as confused as the readers were, it certainly tripped up the reading a bit. One of the marks of a good sales agent is not bogging down the person you’re trying to sell something to with too much technical hullabaloo. This happened almost every time we were confronted with anything to do with the horses in the book. It wasn’t a good sales tactic for the characters, and since it jumbled the flow of the story it would probably be better to not use it in writing, either.
Also, I understand the horse scenes were used to gain some interaction and insight with other characters, furthering development, but for the most part it seemed like filler. My other issue was also a personal one, in that I’m not big on jumping between characters, or at least not as many was we did here. It also seemed to happen frequently, which interrupted the flow a bit. I will agree that the book was more about Charles’ past and friendships, than it was about any spectacular development of Charles’ and Anna’s characters, as well as some foreshadowing with the Fae. However, it was still worth paying for the hardback when it came out.
Overall, I give the book 4/5 Stars:
It was a great story, decently paced, and is likely setting us up for something going on with the Fae in the next book of the Mercy Thompson series.
On the Prowl — Short Story introduction to Anna and Charles