Dead Heat is #4 in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. But its cover is the first to depict both Anna and Charles in human form on the cover. Charles is a wolf on all three of the previous covers.
I was not aware of this until I pulled the images for this review. And what it made me realize is this – I do not continue to read the Alpha and Omega series because each new book is tale of werewolf adventure or a saga of the fae/werewolf conflict or even a mystery to be solved (though you will find those things in the series). The fact is, starting with the first book in the series, Cry Wolf, I developed a relationship with Anna and Charles and the reason I read this series is because I want to get caught up on their lives. The relationship may be one-sided, but that’s okay.
How did I come to this realization? I took a look back to try to remember exactly what I took away from each book. It wasn’t the plot. It was the characters.
Which takes me back to the book covers. On each cover, Charles, is depicted as Anna sees him. In the first three books of the series, Charles was her rescuer and protector and constant friend and companion. Sure, they fell in love as a man and a woman will do, but as a new werewolf, Anna desperately needed the guidance of Brother Wolf. Did she need Brother Wolf more than she needed Charles? Maybe. But both incarnations of the shapeshifter were key to helping Anna realize she is the smart, talented woman and strong omega wolf that she was always meant to be.
Now, in Dead Heat, Charles is able to let Anna be herself, as much as any Alpha can without going into protect mode. And in doing so, Charles has become a man who is comfortable around is mate and is willing to let her see into his heart. Not that this is the first book where this happened. But Anna – and I – definitely saw more of these glimpses into the humanity of Charles in Dead Heat. More of Charles’ human side is revealed, both in happy ways and in painfully sad ways. (Yes, there were tears.) Hence, the human Charles on the cover of Dead Heat.
Well, at least that is my take on the evolution of the cover art.
Recently, I read a post by Sharon Lynn Fisher at Spacefreighters Lounge that talked about couples in novels that are couples from the beginning of the story. There is no tension, obstacle or conflict to keep them apart. Basically, most of the challenges they encounter are external to the couple. I suppose this is kind of the way the romance of Anna and Charles works. They’ve been together for the entire series. They still continue to evolve as a couple. And so the romance continues. Which makes me happy. Anna and Charles are one of my a favorite fictional couples.
Though reading the series in order is best, Dead Heat can be read as a standalone. If you read it, you will get a chilling tale of suspense. A dangerous fae is attacking children and must be stopped. The hunt is the crux of the story. Anna and Charles go after the offender with a vengeance, with help from both humans and a werewolf pack in Arizona. Parts of the story are dark and disturbing. There are also a lot of heartwarming moments.
I enjoyed the setting. I have visited the area many times and appreciate the lay of the land in and around the Scottsdale area. One of the Dead Heat’s locales is a horse breeding/training operation and as a reader, I was treated to an enjoyable lesson in horse breeding, riding and showing. Not being a horse person, I learned a lot. Horse people might like it even more!
As I mentioned, Dead Heat is a standalone story, as are all the titles in this series. However, if you read them in order, you will get the most out of them. Technically, there are four books, but if you are going to read the series, I also recommend Alpha and Omega, the prequel to the series.
I have listened to all four books on audiobook, as read by Holter Graham. I really enjoy his narrations as he handles both male and female voices well. Occasionally, the voice for children or people in pain/distress get a little muddled. But overall, the underplayed, easy going narration fits well for both Anna and Charles. If you are a fan of audiobooks, I think you will like this one.
5 Stars – I loved it!
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