I can't imagine how time-consuming it must be to write two different series simultaneously, but I am seriously so glad I'm able to go to the bookstore and get my Patricia Briggs fix twice a year. When I first heard she was starting a series featuring Sam's half-brother Charles, I could hardly wait to start. I love the world she's created with her Mercy Thompson books and I can't get enough of anything to do with the Marrok himself--the leader of the North American werewolves. As he is Charles' father I knew we'd be getting more Bran, which could only be a good thing. My fingers are still crossed she'll embark on a third series centered on the Marrok. His ancient awesomeness deserves his own series. I enjoyed Cry Wolf, the first in the Alpha and Omega series, and was looking forward to more development in this second installment.
Things are slowly progressing between mated Charles and Anna Cornick. For a man whose life revolves around being his father's
assassin enforcer, Charles is exercising remarkable control when it comes to his timid, but subtly powerful mate. It goes against pretty much every more he's lived by for his few centuries of life to tamp down his dominant instincts, as well as his more violent tendencies engendered as part of his job, but that is exactly what Charles does to make Anna feel comfortable with him and with her new pack. When he elects to go to Seattle in his father's place to host a werewolf summit addressing how and when they will come out to the public, it seems all his hard work may be for naught. Anna accompanies him and, faced with a roomful of the most alpha of alpha wolves from around the world, it's all she can do not to run screaming from the room. As an Omega, her ability to influence all the wolves around her is a tool she must harness if Charles is to succeed in his mission. And, with a homicidal wolf on the prowl and a host of wolves out for his blood, it's Anna's turn to take charge, protect her mate, and embrace the abilities she's only just beginning to understand.
Hunting Ground is stronger and more cohesive than its predecessor. Some of that comes from having all the groundwork finally laid, but a lot of it is just that it's tighter in general and that Patricia Briggs is one hell of a storyteller. The relationship between Anna and Charles continues to be extremely tender and I appreciate the realistic pace Briggs has set between them. They are married and are unswervingly loyal to one another, but they are so very brand new at this. They each have heinously complicated histories and are still only scraping the surface of the other's baggage. The nice thing is their violent, unhappy pasts are leavened by moments of quiet, true humor. Anna has learned to tease Charles and speak up when she should, while Charles has learned to listen and loosen up the death grip he's had on Anna since they met. As in the Mercy series, the fae and the vampires play a large role in this book and I am reminded how dangerously lethal both groups are as I view them through Anna's eyes. Though nothing and no one seems quite so lethal as Charles. The dude is awesome, as Anna says, "a force of nature." Ms. Briggs also includes a large nod to Arthurian lore in this installment and, being rather a fan of such things, I found myself amused and delighted to watch the way the myth unfolded in this context, which is to say just as painfully, beautifully, and hauntingly as always. I very much enjoyed Hunting Ground and have high hopes for the future of this series.