Dead Heat (Alpha And Omega)
by Patricia Briggs
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425256756
Date: 03 March 2015 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Charles Cornick has decided that what his wife, Anna, needs is a horse of her own. He calls his old and dear friend Joseph Sani since he breeds and trains Arabians. Anna and Charles are off to Arizona to stay with Joseph and check out his horses.
Joseph is the human son of the Salt River pack alpha, Hosteen Sani. Hosteen wants Charles to change his son into a werewolf. Joseph is dying of cancer and doesn't want to be changed. Joseph feels he's had a long and full life. What Charles can do is give Joseph a short respite from pain with the little magic he possesses.
Coincidentally, as Anna and Charles are settling in at Joseph's home, Chelsea Sani, the wife of Joseph's son, Kage, is desperately trying to keep her children alive long enough for help to get to them. When Kage finally gets her text and phone messages everyone rushes to his home to help. Charles can smell fae magic throughout the house and follows the scent to Chelsea. She'd been cutting herself to keep from killing her children. She's lost a lot of blood.
When told the children are okay, she attempts to kill herself. It's all Charles can do to stop her but she's so close to death that he hasn't much time. Kage gives permission and Charles begins the Changes that will turn her into a werewolf. As Charles bites into her and tastes her blood he realizes she's a witch. At a guess, he'd say she's a powerful one in order to have held off the fae compulsion for so long to protect her children. He's, thus, fairly certain she'll survive the change but, not so certain what his father will have to say about turning a witch into a werewolf.
Suddenly, Charles and Anna's vacation to buy a horse becomes a search for a fae who is outside the reservation and preying on humans. First, they need to find out how Chelsea gained the fae's attention. That leads them to the day care center that the Sani children attend. At the center they learn information that leads them to believe that Chelsea was the weapon, not the target.
As usual with an Alpha and Omega novel, Dead Heat is not simply an urban fantasy with witches, fae, werewolves, and others supernaturals. The story is multi-threaded and layered. A key theme is children, parents, and love -- in other words, family. Anna wants to have a child, but Charles wants to wait. His mother died giving birth to him and female werewolves seldom, if ever, carry to term. Chelsea is compelled to kill her children. Hosteen wants the life of his child, Joseph, extended by changing him into a werewolf. There are also other related threads.
Children are a precious gift and carry on the legacy of their parents. Parents are charged with caring for and protecting them from harm. Some parents have the heartbreak of living longer than their children and, with werewolves with human children, that's all too common. All of these issues in many different forms rise to the surface in one or another of the intertwined plot lines of Dead Heat.
Are there limits to a parents love for their progeny and what they are willing to do to keep them safe? How does the urge to protect and care for children work with alpha werewolves who are sworn to protect their packs, if the two instinct war with each other? Families matter and Dead Heat is all about families -- the ones you're born into, the ones that you make yourself, and they ones that you are bonded to via pack ties.
An excellent addition to the series.