Monday, 7 May 2018

Alpha (Tamed & Trained #2) by R. Phoenix and M.A. Innes

Sequel to Puppy (Buy Link)
Length: Approximately 39k words
Buy Link
Release Date: April 27, 2018


Zain was just a dog walker. It was an unconventional job for a werewolf, even a brand new one, but he liked dogs and they liked him. It only seemed to make sense… right up until the point a vampire called him in to take care of his human pup. When his life collided with Liam and Caleb’s, none of them were prepared for the directions it could take.

Especially Zain.

But between the sexy pup and the vampire’s creativity, the power struggles pitting dominance against submission — and acceptance — the two might be too intriguing to just walk away from…


This was a very welcome and long overdue return to Liam and Caleb, or the vampire and his (human) pup, I first met in Puppy. And to say I wasn’t disappointed, would be the understatement of the year. Alpha picks up the story some time after the end of its prequel and is as hot, intriguing, and absorbing as Puppy was.

The story starts with Liam bringing Caleb to what will be their new home; a real house, with white picket-fence and all. Inside a room has been prepared for Caleb with the installation of a proper kennel, and the back garden would be any dog’s dream.

Except, Caleb isn’t really a dog, of course. Liam may treat him as one, and expect him to behave like a canine, but Caleb is still far too human to just fall into his role. Having said that, it is getting increasingly difficult for Caleb to forget that he’s not Liam’s pet; the arousal and pleasure he derives from losing himself in the role is getting ever harder to resist.

 Enter Zain, recently turned werewolf and looking for a job as a dog-walker. Little does he know what he will face when he first enters the normal looking house on a normal looking street. Faced with a human-pup, be it with a real tail, Zain is somewhat lost without clear instructions, until he decides to treat Caleb as he would every young dog. And the strategy works. Aware that rewards await good pups, Caleb obeys Zain’s orders — mostly — and appears to be losing himself in his role.

“How long would it be before there was no coming back from this?” - Caleb

The fact that Zain and Caleb seem to be bonding in no time at all, and that Caleb obeys Zain with an ease he’s never shown Liam, doesn’t sit well with the vampire, although it intrigues him too. A battle of wills ensues between Liam and Zain until they settle on a set-up all three of them can live with.

I guess what I liked most about this story is that all three MCs are taken out of their comfort zone and forced to come to terms with the not entirely comfortable yet strangely appealing consequences of their situation. They each face doubts and demons of their own; all three are both disturbed and excited about the attraction between them and their roles. And the mental journey each of them goes through is fascinating.

Sure, this is a story set in a dark universe, where consent is a term that no longer applies to humans. But, I wouldn’t call this a disturbingly dark read, not at all. Because while Caleb learns to lose himself in his puppy role, Zain shows him endless amounts of human kindness, contradictory as that may seem, given that he’s a werewolf. As for Liam, he finds himself experiencing feelings he’s never felt before and can’t recognise or name, showing that maybe, just maybe, buried deep beneath is dark, ‘vampiric’ nature hide softer almost human-like needs and desires.

As much as there were moments when I thought I should probably be horrified — such as when Liam and Zane discuss what other alterations their pup might benefit from — I couldn’t stop myself from smiling when I read those scenes. Because while it may not be a ‘relationship’ we recognise, or a form of intimacy we understand, there’s no denying that a bond is forming between these three men. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what form that bond will ultimately take or what the rest of their journey will look like.

Further reading

Click the links for more information about Alpha and my review of Puppy

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