**THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS**
This review was hard for me because I love supernatural romance and werewolves are a soft spot in particular (thanks for that Kelley Armstrong!). But Beta: Her Alpha by C.M.Steele just didn’t do it for me. I’ll break it down later to explain which bits worked for me and what didn’t. But I just want to reaffirm that these reviews are subjective and are based upon my opinions, dislikes and likes. That doesn’t mean someone else won’t read it and give it a 5* review.
I felt like the concept for the novel was there. There is a werewolf clan and the book follows Chloe, the sister of the Alpha and Erik, another werewolf in the clan who later turns out to be the beta. In C.M.Steele’s world, werewolves can’t have sex with anyone who is not their mate. They can instantly tell when someone is their mate and they go into a frenzied heat. Chloe and Erik are attracted to each to her, but aren’t mates, so they can’t have sex and they struggle with the consequences of that. On top of that someone has a grudge against Erik and family issues mean that he is viewed as a betrayer by certain family members. This later proves dangerous to Erik in the book.
Now on to the review part, I’m going to use the concepts of WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if) so that I can formulate my review better.
What worked well was the concept – I liked that there were two people who desperately wanted to be together but couldn’t because they weren’t each other’s mate. I loved the idea that she was the Alpha’s sister and I think more could have been done with that. Then there are the warring factions within the packs as the two families feel hostility towards each other. This was a good idea and I would love to have seen more of this. However I feel like the author can see it all in her mind, how everything plays out, and in writing it down leaves out crucial aspects as she forgets we’re not in her head with her. Also she adds a lot of information in after the fact, for example Chloe’s dream about Erik – that should have come in before she found out exactly what happened to him, and it would have had a better effect and reinforced their bond. The information about wolf healing also could have been brought in sooner, not after he’s already starting to recover. This goes back to the author assuming that we already know what she does.
Another EBI for me would be if more was made out of her being the Alpha’s sister. It felt like her brother just popped up through out the book and occasionally made a remark about being able to hear them and then disappeared again.
The same goes for the actual chemistry between Chloe and Erik. I wanted more of the build-up in their relationship; instead I felt a little cheated with a ‘Eight months later…’ and the ‘Four months later…’ parts. I wanted to see their attraction develop and see more of the issues they faced. Not only that but I felt as though their dynamic wasn’t given enough space before the issues of potentially finding other mates came up, so it felt like for a large chunk of the book they were just making each other miserable with bickering, fighting and crying. For example when Chloe gets asked out on a date by a human, I felt that this part could have been used to explore her relationship with Erik more. I felt like she should have gone and he should have turned up in some desperate attempt to regain control and perhaps something comical happens, like she pours her soup over him. Instead she tells him she’s going on a date, he tells her she isn’t. So she doesn’t. If asserting his dominance as ‘Her Alpha’ was important then I assumed that she would be stubborn and feisty as he tries to exert control. But it just fell a little flat. Like I said, the potential was there but it just wasn’t executed to its full capacity.
Now with regards to the sex in the book, it’s steamy but a few little phrases just didn’t work for me. I understand that they are werewolves, so I was expecting animalistic aspects and possibly a focus upon having babies. Most supernatural romance novels have this focus upon reproduction, however when I’m enjoying reading a sex scene, a phrase like ‘I beg for his pups in me’ or even ‘breeding her’, pulls me back out of the narrative. I think if this was introduced before the sex scene or even in their thoughts afterwards then I could handle it, but actually during the sexy bits puts me off.
My final point is a big one, I felt like the book was anti-climactic. The danger and the conflict in the novel were side-lined to the point where it was almost pointless. Cat’s kidnap just didn’t evoke anything in me and it was quickly handled. The same for Ryan’s end, it just felt like the writer forgot there was a conflict and decided that the quickest way to resolve it was to have the antagonist show up and our hero pop two bullets into him. Boom. Ended.
This book has potential, I like the idea and some of the set-up, however it just didn’t meet my expectations and left me wanting more information, build up and storyline. I would try this author again because the ideas are there, but the execution needs some fine tuning. I’ve given it 2 stars because in regards to our star rating system, that’s where it fits best.
*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*