Anna, the "Omega" wolf, has come a long way from the abused, cringing victim first seen in the short story that introduces her character ("Alpha and Omega" in On the Prowl). She has found a place for herself among a positive, functional pack, unlike her first one, and she has gained self-confidence as well as skill in her role as Omega. She is one of the rare werewolves whose status is outside the pack hierarchy, neither a submissive nor an alpha, and she has special abilities that no other werewolves possess.
She and Charles, her new husband, are still in the early stages of their relationship. They are crazy about each other, but they have both have troubled pasts and issues that they still need to work out. There isn't much time for them to focus on their relationship, though, when Charles convinces his father, the Marrok (leader of their pack) to send him and Anna to Seattle for a political meeting with international werewolves. Charles's father intends to "out" the werewolves as other supernatural creatures have recently done, and his actions will effect werewolves all around the world. Support from these packs will make the transition go much more smoothly, but persuading them will be a challenge.
The meeting is not expected to be exactly civilized, particularly as the French alpha, known as the Beast of Gevaudan, will be in attendance - someone who, according to Charles, "likes to eat his prey - and his prey is mostly human." Presiding over this doubtful venture is one of the Fae, who may or may not be trustworthy - but at least she is powerful enough to keep a bunch of quarrelsome, powerful werewolves under control. When Anna is attacked by a group of vampires, and the mate of one of the alpha wolves is brutally murdered, Anna and Charles not only must deal with the challenge of trying to gain support for the Marrok, but they also have a murder mystery to solve.
This second installment in the Alpha and Omega series has danger, excitement, mystery, and a dash of romance. Anna grows substantially throughout the course of the novel, as she works to face her fears and learn more about the important role she plays as an alpha. The social structure of the werewolves is an interesting way to look at relationships (werewolf and otherwise), their power structure and dynamics. Anna's relationship with Charles is central to the book, and their interactions are sweet and often humorous. The pace, as is typical with Briggs' novels, is taut, and the characters are very engaging. While I miss Mercy Thompson dreadfully, I am grateful for this new series to make the wait for the next book in that series more bearable - and I'm very much looking forward to the next book in this series, as well.
The Hunting Ground series:
1. "Alpha and Omega" (short story in On the Prowl)
2. Cry Wolf
3. Hunting Ground
Hunting Ground (#2 in the Alpha and Omega series) by Patricia Briggs (Berkley, 2009)
Also reviewed at:
Angieville: "Anna and Charles...each have heinously complicated histories and are still only scraping the surface of the other's baggage. The nice thing is their violent, unhappy pasts are leavened by moments of quiet, true humor."
The Good, the Bad and the Unread: "You sincerely feel as if her world could exist and she’s just telling you about it like a newspaper relates events. I love that kind of confidence in an author – I have no trouble giving them several hours of my time because I know it won’t be wasted."
The Written World: "I am very happy that I read this book, but now I have to wait six months for anything more!"