Hi there! Today I”m sharing a review, excerpt and giveaway for a new M/M urban fantasy from AM Arthur. SAVED is the first book in the Breaking Free series, and features a world where only males exist. Three genders: alpha, beta and omega, and some rough sexual politics have led to bad relations between breeding pairs…where love isn’t necessarily a given. I’ve liked contemporary and new adult romances from this author (HERE FOR US, THE WORLD AS HE SEES IT, FINDING THEIR WAY) so I was eager to check out this new series.
Drop down to enter the giveaway for an eBook of SAVED and an ARC of book two in the series!
Braun Etting was raised to know his place as an omega by his alpha father’s cruel words and fast fists, and he expects nothing but violence from the alpha who may one day mate him. His older brother Kell mated a cruel alpha who abuses him daily, and Braun is terrified of that seemingly inevitable future. When Braun’s father dies in a car crash, leaving Braun an orphan, he’s sent to a halfway house for omegas. But on his fourth night there, he witnesses a horrifying crime that sends him fleeing to the streets alone—and edging into his first heat.
Tarek Bloom is settled in his workaholic, single lifestyle, even if it is somewhat embarrassing to be a twenty-eight year-old unmated alpha. He enjoys his job as a constable, helping people and solving problems, so he isn’t prepared for his life to flip upside-down when he walks into his beta friend Dex’s apartment to help with “a problem.”
The problem turns out to be an unmated, nearly in-heat omega orphan who Dex and his husband rescued off the street last night. The even bigger problem is that Tarek feels the mating bond for this terrified omega immediately—and he’s pretty sure the omega feels it, too. But Braun hates alphas as a general rule, and no way is he giving in to the bond. All mating leads to is violence and suffering, so no thank you. But Tarek’s gentle kindness slips under Braun’s emotional shields, and Braun begins to want. To dream. All Braun has ever known is violent alphas, but Tarek is determined to make Braun trust him—and to trust in the idea of their happily ever after.
NOTE: This is a non-shifter Omegaverse story with alpha/omega/beta dynamics, heats, knotting, and mpreg. In this world, omegas are second-class citizens with few civil rights and almost no protections under the law. Trigger warnings for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
How about a little taste?
“Would you be able to describe exactly what you saw that night in detail?” Tarek pulled a notepad and pen out of his front pocket.
Braun’s entire body went rigid. “Why? Who are you really?”
“I really am Tarek Bloom.” For a moment, he actually seemed contrite. “What I didn’t tell you is that I’m also a constable.”
“Shit.” Braun bolted out of his chair and toward the front door, fork still in his hand.
In a flurry of movement, Tarek was in front of him, blocking his path to the door, and Braun lashed out with the fork. Dex grabbed his wrist and plucked the fork out of his hand, but that didn’t stop Braun from swinging. He punched Tarek in the chest. Twice. Panic settled in, overriding his common sense, and he tried to push past the brick wall of a man.
“Let me go! I won’t go back, I won’t!”
Arms wrapped around his torso from behind, pinning his arms to his sides. Serge’s comforting scent settled his racing mind a bit, but it was Tarek’s hand on the back of his neck that settled Braun completely.
“Calm down, firecracker,” Tarek said. His deep voice soothed Braun’s frazzled nerves, and his touch sent his pulse racing with delight. “You’re still safe, I promise. No one here wants to hurt you.”
“Why do you care?” Braun snarled. “I’m just some useless omega you’ve known for twenty minutes.”
“You’re far from useless, little one.”
Tarek’s other hand rose, nearing Braun’s face. Braun snapped at his fingers. “I’m only a womb to you.”
“Far from it, my firecracker.” The hand on his neck squeezed. “Far from it.”
The grounding touch made Braun want to roll over and show his belly, but he was done being passed around. Done letting other people control his life. He didn’t want to feel this mating bond to Tarek, but he also couldn’t turn it off. Even with the heat block, Tarek was under his skin, doing funny things to his insides.
Angry and confused, Braun dared look an alpha in the eye.
This world is one where no females exist, and a small percentage of males, the omegas, have the ability to become pregnant. Omegas go into heat, an overwhelming physiologic experience, every three months. It is during that 48 hour window that an alpha could impregnate the omega. And, the offspring can be any of the three genders: alpha, beta or omega. In this world. alphas have the best opportunities, best job prospects and best lives. They get their pick of the matable omegas. Betas are second-class citizens who are essentially infertile as they are never allowed to mate an omega. They do form pair bonds, and some adopt discarded beta offspring. Betas have virtually unrestricted lives, though they are considered to be inferior in intellect by alphas.
Omegas are, maybe, fifth-class citizens. They are kept under strict supervision, they have no rights to freedom or autonomy. Their education usually ends int he mid teens and the omeags are sequestered until their first heat–which comes anytime from 15-21, to “protect” them from having an unsupervised heat where they could be raped by any alpha who catches wind of their pheromones. Once mated, it’s up to the omega’s alpha to decide if there will be further education, a job, or the ability to drive one’s self. An Alpha can physically harm or intimidate his omega without repercussion, using the excuse of “discipline”.
Braun Ettings is a nearly 21 year old unmated omega who just survived the car wreck that claimed the life of his abusive father. Unable to be left on his own, he’s sent to a half-way house for unmated omegas. Braun’s not sad his tormentor died, but he’s scared in his new surroundings, and wishes he could go live with his pregnant, elder brother, Kell. Unfortunately, Kell’s abusive husband is a big problem. Braun notices what looks like a kidnapping of one of the residents of his half-way house and decides to flee–which is brave but perilous. He’s accosted and nearly raped, only saved at the last moment by a beta nurse who recognized him from the recent hospital treatment and his alpha husband. Their friend, Tarek Bloom, is an alpha and a constable, and he’s really intrigued by both Braun and his tale of woe in the half-way house. Braun feels the pull to mate with Tarek nearly immediately, but he’s determined not to fall into the same deadly trap that Kell is caught in.
As Tarek investigates the situation, and some other crimes, he arranges to become Braun’s legal protector, and works out a fostering arrangement for his friends who’d saved Braun. These four form a tight unit of friendship, with a deep attraction brewing between Tarek and Braun. Braun’s confused and pleased that Tarek isn’t simply claiming him outright. He can’t trust that it won’t happen, though. Conversations with Kell help to guide him into accepting what appears to be love, but there are lots of complications–the abusive situation Kell is in, the recovery of kidnapped beta youths, the rescue of Braun’s fellow omegas from the half-way house–to name a few. Plus, Braun’s first heat is imminent. Tarek swears he’ll defend Braun and not claim him, but Braun is unsure that Tarek will keep his word. It was good to see Tarek be such a stand-up guy, especially in the face of the deep prejudices and derision he faces by having such an independent omega. They do fall for one another and sexytimes do happen, but not before the friendship and emotional bonding have been built.
This is, to me, a police romance with an urban fantasy laid over it. Getting used to the lack of females and acclimating to the omegaverse constraints took me a little time. I loved the sexual politics, and how stark the divide was between the alphas and omegas, in terms of power, prestige and autonomy. Braun’s a spitfire of an omega, and he’s often caught at the center of controversy, but Tarek loves him steadfastly, and it’s clear they are going to become stronger as a mated pair as the books go forward. The situation between Kell and his husband isn’t fully resolved at the end of this book, so expect that to drive the story line in the sequel. On a different note, it’s pretty shattering to read about the abuse Braun, Kell and others survive, so take that trigger warning seriously. I’m looking forward to reading on!
Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an eBook of SAVED and an ARC of book two in the series!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and SMP Swerve.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.