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Imagine if the werewolves were considering coming out of the fur coat closet, and held a conference to debate it.

It's a rather boring-sounding idea. But since Patricia Briggs is a truly brilliant urban-fantasy author, she is somehow able to spin straw into gold in the second full-length novel about the Omega werewolf Anna and her Alpha mate Charles. "Hunting Ground" is a solid little bundle of subplots and warring supernaturals.

Sent to the Seattle conference, Charles and Anna encounter lycanthropes from across Europe -- Russians, Italians, the British lord Arthur, and he savage Beast of Gévaudan, Jean Chastel. Warring opinions and old grudges (plus Chastel's general savagery) cause plenty of tension between the various groups, and Charles finds that while Anna's Omeganess eases some of the conflict, she's freaked out by all the dominant males.

But Anna is attacked while shopping with her new friend Moira -- by a gang of vampires using werewolf magic and tactics. Then a couple of attendees at the conference are murdered as well, one by the vampires and the other by a person unknown. Now the fragile peace between alphas starts to unravel and fae magic starts to manipulate them -- and to save his beloved Anna, Charles must uncover who is would do all this.

The previous "Alpha and Omega" stories have been about the world of werewolves almost exclusively, and "Hunting Ground" expands its focus -- we've got the cruel fae Dana, and a cruel gang of vampires. But the focus is still mainly on werewolves -- their subculture, their leaders, and the place of the Omegas when surrounded by a bunch of grumpy Alphas.

The biggest flaw is that the book is a loosely woven affair without much central plot until the last few chapters. But Briggs smoothly juggles the various subplots that run through the book, with vivid, powerful prose ("A creek full of fat trout trickled under a thin layer of misty ice") and slightly tongue-in-cheek dialogue ("Way to kill a defenseless net"). Not to mention some unique quirks, like a werewolf who genuinely believes he is King Arthur reborn.

And she strikes a solid balance between the darkness and violence (bloody killings, werewolf hunts, and some brutal human killings) and the more quiet, soothing moments that Anna brings. One particularly lovely scene has her soothing frazzled alphas through a mellow piano performance, and Briggs' smooth writing carries the effect through to the reader.

Anna and Charles may be mates and spouses now, but they're clearly still getting used to each other. Anna is now strong enough to stand up to the Beast and recovered enough to show her love for her new hubby, but Charles is struggling with his tough-guy image and his "Brother Wolf." And there are plenty of other interesting characters -- the unassuming Angus, the bloodthirsty psychopathic Jean, a cute Austrian Omega, and the charming, loopy Arthur. There's even a pair from one of Briggs' short stories: the werewolf Tom and his blind witch mate Moira.

"Hunting Ground" has a rather loosely woven plot, but Patricia Briggs' lovely writing and vivid characters keep it from losings its way. Definitely one of the better werewolfcentic urban fantasies.
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on August 25, 2009
I am a huge fan of the Alpha and Omega Series. If you haven't already read the short story and the first book, Cry Wolf, go out immediately and get them.

We meet back with Anna & Charles just a couple weeks from where we left them in Cry Wolf. It's now almost Christmas and they are headed to Seattle to meet with the Alphas of the European packs. Anna and Charles are newly mated/married and are still adjusting to each other. While Charles is handling the negotiations for the Wolves to come out in public, Anna is dealing with all of the Alpha testosterone that's flying through the air.

Patti does not disappoint with this addition to the A&O series. As usual we find great characters in both the Seattle pack and the delegations from Europe. Great character development with Charles and Anna. We get to know Charles more in this story and how he's dealing with having a mate and still performing his duties. Anna is a delight to read. She's been hurt, brutalized really, but she's strong to her core-even if she doesn't believe it. Did I mention we get to meet Brother Wolf? It leaves me waiting and counting down the days for the next one.
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on August 27, 2009
As a huge fan of the Mercy Thompson series, I am always excited when Patricia Briggs releases a book in this setting. I enjoyed the first Alpha and Omega book as well as the short story in "On the Prowl", but wasn't certain if I would end up liking this series as much as I do the Mercy books, as the first full length novel was extremely enjoyable but just a hare off of perfect.

This book was every bit as enjoyable as the Mercy Thompson books. Anna and Charles, newly mated to each other and still uncertain with their relationship, have to attend a large gathering of werewolves from around the world. Bran, Charles' father and the Marrok - leader of the North American wolves, has decided to make knowledge of the wolves public. Many do not agree with this decision, thus the large gathering to discuss this.

As a romance reader as well as a science fiction/urban fantasy reader, this book melded the two genres perfectly, but those who are not fond of romance may not appreciate the focus on Charles' and Anna's relationship. Part of the joy of the book for me was the interaction between the two main characters, as they learn more about each other.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed is the teamwork. One of the reasons this werewolf world is so enjoyable is the people don't make stupid mistakes. Important information is shared and discussed among the characters, and the bad guys don't win out because someone forgot to tell another person something important, or just decided to keep an important detail to themselves. Many authors use this contrivance, and it is so refreshing to have intelligent characters behaving intelligently. It makes the danger, and the whole novel really, seem more real and interesting.

I must say that I am also a big fan of Bran. I like that the Marrok is present in the books - both this series and the Mercy Thompson series - and that he is hands down the most powerful creature out of all of them. It is nice to have a big gun off in the distance, as it keeps the main characters from being *too* powerful, or for power creep to over shadow the story. He is also just a wonderfully drawn character who is really fun to read about.

The mythology of the wolves as well as the fae and other supernatural creatures in this series is fun and refreshing. I really like how Briggs depicts the fae in her books, from nice to scary, but always tricky.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was finishing it and knowing I had to wait for more books to be released. After finishing this book I went through and reread all of the rest of the werewolf books, and today I plan on rereading this book again.

Oh, this book has very few places where you can simply set it down. The plot moves along at a pretty good pace, and there is plenty of action. I read it all in one night, staying up WAY too late just so I could see what happened next. I hope for many more great books in this series, as Patricia Briggs has spoiled me by writing such great stories.
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on August 25, 2009
If you have read any of Briggs books you will love it. The relationship between Charles and Anna is fleshed out and much more believable than most romance stories. It is not just lust at first site that somehow becomes true love. Like the Mercy Thompson series the plot has something of a mystery that has to be solved to keep the ones they love safe and the resolution is not obvious. I also love that the female lead kicks as much ass as the male.
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on August 25, 2009
Have you ever read a book that was so good and so amazing that you felt like you were gobbling it up as fast as you could and yet you never wanted it to end? Well this book was like this for me. I read it in one sitting (thank goodness I had part of the day off from work today) and flinched every time I had to answer the phone or eat some food. It was simply amazing. I think you can guess from my words that I adored this book. I read it on my Kindle and now I will get it in hardback to add to my must have collection. Highly highly recommended. Patricia Briggs, you really did it. What a great story - what great characters.
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on September 2, 2009
Firstly, let me say that I did enjoy the book, not as much as as the first short story or even the book that preceded this one but I enjoyed it. I really enjoy the emotions she invokes with her writing. Out of all of the books and series I've read by Mrs. Briggs, the Alpha and Omega series are my favorite.

With that said and at the risk of getting crucified by all of the "Die Hard" Briggs fans I will proceed with my review. I was happy and sad with the way the attention Anna received. I strongly appreciate how Mrs. Briggs realistically presents Anna in regards to her history with and effects of verbal, sexual, and physical abuse. Many authors tend to gloss over the healing and the heroines are magically healed, which is so not the case when it comes to that abuse, especially sexual.

The part or parts that I was disappointed with were (I know it's been three weeks) the complete absence of her father and brother, where were they? How did that reunion go? Have they been communicating more? Where does it seem those relationships are headed? The other part is how Anna is turning into the this "old maid", the outfits that described by no means sound appealing, she's talking about taking up quilting, all of this is fine but I don't think I'd find a character and her quilting all that interesting. What about her going back to school and finishing her degree? If not school, a job of some sort? What about her getting her life back? Picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild? Existing outside of Charles's and Bran? I mean make her a little more interesting... Plus we know so much about Charles's life prior to Anna but so little outside of her experience after she was turned, did she have no friends? Did anybody ever try to get in touch with her afterward estrangement? Whatever happened with Cara?

I thought the plot was basic and predictable but because Mrs. Briggs is a great writer it didn't bother me so much, although I did get the feel that this book was kind of thrown together. I didn't feel the commitment to this series. Even with all of my unanswered questions, I still liked, I don't it's just this feeling I get when I'm reading this series, I really can't explain it.
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VINE VOICEon August 26, 2009
Plot Summary: Charles and Anna are still adjusting to being mated after their traumatic battle with the witch in book one. They don't even get a honeymoon when Bran needs them to attend a werewolf summit in Seattle. Charles must present Bran's plan to take the North American werewolves public, and the European packs aren't keen on the idea. Charles may be Bran's enforcer, but he also proves to be an intelligent diplomat, however Brother Wolf comes to the forefront when Anna is attacked by a group of vampires. Someone is out to sabotage the summit, and Anna and Charles are the primary targets.

I am giving this book perfect marks for having my favorite blend of romance, action, magic, and mystery. This may be sacrilege, but I think I like this series even more than the Mercy Thompson novels. It's hard to believe, but true. I enjoy the combustible relationship between Charles and Anna; it's all so fresh and their nascent bond is constantly being tested. I still get that thump-to-the-gut feeling when Anna manages to open up to Charles, or when this big tough guy is unspeakably tender to his mate. Patricia Briggs is one of the few authors I've encountered who can keep that first love intensity alive with just few words. It's kind of magical really.

The plot is slowly moving toward the werewolves going public, and I see a lot of fodder for future installments. A ton of new characters are introduced here, and suspicion is cast over everyone after Anna is jumped by the vampires. It turns into a supernatural thriller as the saboteur keeps escalating the attacks while the evidence points to an unlikely werewolf-vampire collaboration. There's plenty of fighting, biting, and werewolf action, all set to a fast pace that practically hums with excitement.

As much as I applaud the action and this fabulous fantasy construct, it's still the relationship between Charles and Anna that will keep me coming back for more. The hard part about following a series as it evolves is the wait time between books. According to Patricia Briggs's website, the good news is that there will be a third Alpha & Omega novel, but the bad news is that it's coming August 2010. Oh man, what a wait.
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VINE VOICEon August 31, 2009
Once again Patricia Briggs has written an exciting, interesting book concerning werewolves and other things paranormal. This story is very fast paced, with danger around almost every corner. Charles and Anna have been married a month now and Bran, the Marrock of all the werewolves in North America, finally agrees that his son can represent him at the meeting in Seattle. There will be werewolves from many other countries discussing how they will be effected if the North American wolves go ahead with their plan to announce their existence to the world. Anna is still learning what it means to be an Omega wolf in her pack (see Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Book 1) ) and Charles and his Brother Wolf are finding out that Anna's passive status doesn't mean that she is always a submissive wolf. One of the Alpha wolves Charles expects trouble from is Jean Chastel, the wolf who leads the French packs much against their wishes. The action really begins to heat up when an attempt is made to kidnap Anna. Even though that attempt fails, the trouble escalates from then on and Charles and Anna must find out who is behind the hiring of the vampire assassin group.

This book was an absolute delight to read because this author has that wonderful ability to take the paranormal and make me believe it is normal within the pages of her novel. I really like the way she plotted this story, it was difficult to know who was behind the scenes pulling the strings for all the activities going on around Charles and Anna. I also like the way Ms Briggs writes dialogue for her characters. They sound like real people, they sound completely natural. That is not something which can be mastered by every author. Even the most unusual circumstance is handled with the light touch necessary to make the reader believe in the story.

I was also delighted to find two characters from an anthology prominently featured in this book. In Strange Brew Ms Briggs had a story called "Seeing Eye" with Moira (a blind witch) and Tom (a werewolf). I absolutely loved that story and was really glad to get to read a lot about that couple in this story. I had lamented at the time that I was sorry that those two good characters had been used in such a short story, but Ms Briggs had a surprise in store for us. If you haven't had the chance to read that story, I would suggest that you do so if at all possible. It will tell you what led to Moira's blindness and you will fully appreciate having her and Tom front and center in this novel.

Very highly recommended. I think that this book is probably a complete stand alone book. In order to enhance your enjoyment of this series though, I would urge you to read not only the two books I've noted so far, but also the anthology On the Prowl where the Alpha and Omega series has it's beginning. You really will enjoy the other books more if you start at the very beginning to get a full understanding of Anna's life before she was rescued by Charles.
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on August 26, 2009
This may just be my favorite Briggs novel to date. Though HUNTING GROUND can stand alone it will definitely be enjoyed more thoroughly if you have at least read CRY WOLF first and better still if you have read the short story from ON THE PROWL. We left the first Alpha & Omega novel with Charles and Anna just getting together after Charles has rescued her from her old pack. They find they are mates, but Anna is frightened, damaged and jumps at her own shadow. In the present novel it is a joy to see their relationship unfolding and Anna finding not only her strength but her value as a rare Omega werewolf.

Charles and Anna are sent by Bran to a meeting of American and European wolves to discuss the weres going public. The European wolves are not as excited about the idea and maybe some American wolves aren't either as there is someone trying to sabotage the endeavor before it even gets off the ground. It is extremely enjoyable watching Charles move into the not so comfortable role as diplomat instead of enforcer.

The plot has already been discussed and I don't want to give spoilers and ruin an incredible read for others. Suffice to say that there are new wolves and vampires to meet and maybe a fae or two thrown in for good measure. The whodunit kept me guessing and some of the dialogue had me laughing out loud. The only complaint I have about this novel is that it's just not long enough. I could have happily read another 100 pages of interaction between Charles and Anna. I love Mercy but these two are fast becoming my favorite characters in the Briggs universe.
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on August 30, 2009
Because of the Product Description of Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega, Book 2), I was a bit reluctant to read this episode of Anna and Charles. (I don't like stories where the hero is falsely accused of a crime and has to prove his innocence. The Fugitive scenario is my least favorite plot ploy).

Please note: This is NOT about Charles being suspected of an act that could have him executed. Only a few pages toward the end even mentioned this vague possibility and it was never taken very seriously. If you are holding back because of that description - don't, or you'll miss a great read. (Yup, that's a spoiler folks, but it needs to be stated or more readers will pass this by).

The major story centers around Anna and Charles getting closer within their relationship, love that blooms more brightly and Anna learning more about her abilities as an Omega wolf. Add a werewolf convention, Fae connections, The Gray Lords, vampires, a few quirky characters, a plethora of nasty villains out to harm Charles and snag Anna... Adventure abounds and will keep you turning pages.

As other reviewers have mentioned, there are a great many threads woven into this story, but they fit nicely together, you never feel out of the loop.

A bit strong on blood and gore, a sweet romance, PG-14 plus.
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