Published 2009 286 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
For hundreds of years, werewolves have kept their existence hidden from all but a select few humans. But, if the packs, the time for keeping secrets might be over.
Anna and Charles have been sent to the wolves’ conclave in Seattle to keep the peace. But when Jean Chastel, the leader of the French werewolves, goes after Anna, Charles can’t control himself. Chastel survives the vicious fight that ensues, but when he’s discovered murdered that night, Charles is the prime suspect. And the penalty for murdering a fellow werewolf is death.
Now Anna has only days to clear her partner’s name, She knows Charles is innocent, but if her didn’t do it – who did?
Hunting Ground is the second full length novel in Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega werewolf series. Alpha and Omega is a spin-off from Briggs’s popular Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series, set in the same fantasy world but featuring werewolf couple Charles and Anna, rather than skinwalker Mercy.
Hunting Ground begins just a couple of weeks after the events covered by the first novel in this series, Cry Wolf, ended. Anna and Charles are now married but their relationship is still uncomfortably new for abused Omega werewolf Anna. Chaotic love-lives are one the standard identifiers for the urban fantasy genre, and although Anna isn’t always comfortable in her mated relationship with Charles her love-life is hardly chaotic. This makes Hunting Ground read more like a serial romance, with an exciting fantasy mystery plotline, than an urban fantasy novel. The romantic relationship development between Charles and Anna is a recurring theme in the story, again pushing Hunting Ground closer to romance territory.
The mystery part of the plotline is suitably obtuse with plenty of seemingly disparate events, an attempted kidnapping of Anna followed by the murder of the British Alpha’s mate, that eventually evolve into a bigger plot. Along the way there is plenty of action for Anna, who once again proves she is more than capable of looking after herself and her mate. While werewolves firmly remain the centre of attention, a team of hired-vampire killers provide the villainy and the fae provide some fantasy interest too, in the form of Dana Shea, a Grey Lord who agrees to mediate the werewolf summit.
An international werewolf summit is always going to be a tense affair but with Jean Chastel, the leader of the French werewolves and the legendary Beast of Gévaudan, in attendance in obvious that Charles is going to have his hands full in his dual role as American pack enforcer and summit organiser. If the Beast of Gévaudan sounds familiar it’s because the Beast is a documented real-life legend from the 18th century France. The story goes that there were somewhere between 130 and 210 attacks (record keeping wasn’t great back then!) by large wolf-like creatures that killed and partially ate their human prey over a 4 year period in Gévaudan area. Briggs manages to weave an alternate explanation for the Beast of Gévaudan mystery into Hunting Ground at the same time as creating a suitably evil werewolf who makes an ideal candidate to be the mastermind behind the attacks on summit attendees.
Hunting Ground is a well-paced engrossing read and while the mystery part of the plot is muddled, with false starts and apparently unconnected events, it pulls together in the end to make an action-packed coherent finish for the story. The Alpha and Omega series has a totally different feel than the author’s Mercy Thompson offerings. Readers looking for the sharper urban fantasy edge of the Mercy Thompson books may not quite get what they are looking for in Hunting Ground but readers who are looking for fantasy thrills with a softer romance edge may find this book just what they are looking for.
LoveVampires Review Rating: