“Alpha Malik” by Midika Crane

I almost decided not to read this book…the name, the cover picture, the fact that a main character is called the Alpha of the Love Pack and the first line contains the word “sex”…I was pretty sure I knew where this was going. And pleasantly surprised when it didn’t. There are two love scenes steamy enough to assure the book won’t be seen in any high school libraries, but that’s about all. The rest involves the kind of sexual tension created when the rules of the warped game mean that two people who are attracted aren’t even allowed to touch each other. Rather interesting.

The plot revolves around the search for a wife for the Pack Alpha. This plays out rather like “The Bachelor” on TV, with a group of beautiful and talented women brought to a huge mansion to compete for the affections of the leading man. And to scheme, snipe, battle, and all those marvellous conflicts that can appear when there are too many women and only one available male.

This novel is set in a somewhat simplistic imaginary world where one “pack” seems to live in a land of constant winter, although somehow trees and bushes grow there, and it is possible to drive for “less than a few hours” and be in the tropics. The main character questions this, but never answers it. There is almost no explanation why the various groups are called “packs.” There is only one werewolf in the whole tale, a mere cameo. The metaphor does work for the constantly swirling hierarchy of the society, though.

The characters are much more thoughtfully portrayed. Aria is a great personality: alternately shy, rebellious, and needy. Her best friend, Alexa, unfortunately appears only briefly, because she’s a real piece of work as well. And I mean that in a good way. Mostly, anyway. You have to meet her.

A few of the key contestants likewise come alive. Their personalities are consistent with their actions, driving the plot forward. And the plot does move along. There is constant suspense, mostly caused by the machinations of the various characters and the mystery that Aria is trying to solve. Namely, “Just what, exactly, is going on, here?”

In general I found the setting and some of the plotline to be sketched out rather vaguely. This, combined with some very distracting and poorly indicated point of view switches and a tendency to switch from present to past tense without warning, leaves the impression of an author with a rather helter-skelter approach to writing.

Otherwise, this is an enjoyable read. Recommended for paranormal fantasy fans.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


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