Hell Squad

Ready to go to hell? Hell yeah, the Devil needs an ass-kicking!

Anna Hackett has several sci-fi romance series, one of which is the Hell Squad series. Hell Squad takes place on an Earth that has more advanced tech than we have, and where countries have banded together to form larger unions or coalitions. Think the EU or the Commonwealth, but with one common government. The US and Australia, among other countries, are in one such group.

The series takes place in Australia, where, incidentally, Anna Hackett is from. Dinosaur-esque aliens called the Gizzida have invaded the Earth, and killed large percentages of the population. They have taken other humans for terrible experiments. The majority of the infrastructure is gone, including reliable contact with other countries. Most of the military are gone, because of course, the aliens are going to attack military bases first, just to make sure that no one can fight back. Wouldn’t you? Anyway, there are some surviving members of the military who managed to escape to a secret, hidden base called Blue Mountain, located somewhere near Sydney. The base is run by a surviving general, Adam Holmes. The military survivors are broken up into small squads of 8-9 people who go out to fight the Gizzida, rescue people, etc. The premier squad is Squad 6, run by Marcus Steele, also known as Hell Squad. Through the series, we learn about other squads, such as Squad 9, which is mostly made up of women, and Squad 3, the Berserkers, who are made up of mercs, motorcycle club members, enforcers, and other people of questionable origins. The name Berserkers fits them, because they are quite wild, generally riding into battle on modified motorcycles and wearing minimal body armor. Crazy but fun.

The military survivors are broken up into small squads of 8-9 people who go out to fight the Gizzida, rescue people, etc. The premier squad is Squad 6, run by Marcus Steele, also known as Hell Squad. Through the series, we learn about other squads, such as Squad 9, which is mostly made up of women, and Squad 3, the Berserkers, who are made up of mercs, motorcycle club members, enforcers, and other people of questionable origins. The name Berserkers fits them, because they are quite wild, generally riding into battle on modified motorcycles and wearing minimal body armor. Crazy but fun. Later books focus on members from those squads, but the first books focus on Hell Squad.

While some of the other books I’ve talked about are kink and sex heavy, these books have minimal kink and fewer sex scenes. That doesn’t mean no sex scenes or that the sex isn’t hot because there are totally great scenes in these books. I mean, you get a bunch of Alpha males and strong women together, and nature is going to take its course. They aren’t insta-love stories, most of the romances are people who have known each other and worked together for some time, however, there are a couple of stories where people get into relationships shortly after meeting. None of the relationships start easy, with one person or the other fighting the pairing, for whatever reason. I’m looking right at you, Hemi and Cam. But each one ends in an HEA.

The books in this series can be read as stand-alones, it really isn’t recommended. That’s because there is an overarching storyline that builds on each book and characters do show up from one book into the next.

All the books in this series are on Kindle Unlimited, start with Marcus. They are nice, easy reads, with good plotting and good writing. If you like sci-fi and romance, these are a good choice. If you like Anna Hackett’s books, you can try  Phoenix Adventures, which aren’t on KU, and Galactic Gladiators, which are.

OK, next week will be urban fantasy week. UF is one of my favorite genres. Some of the books and authors started in the romance genre and are listed under both romance and urban fantasy. It’ll be fun, so make sure to check it out!

Alpha’s Claim Part 2

My last post was all about the Omegaverse, which is where the Alpha’s Claim series takes place. Today is all about the books. There will likely be some spoilers. Before I get into it, I just want to warn everyone that I deeply love these books, am heavily invested in them, and have had lots of discussions about them in Addison’s FB group. I’m always happy to discuss them more.

It’s going to be a pretty brief overview because if I go too much in-depth, I’ll give everything away. I just want to give you enough that you dash over to Amazon so that you go read them.

Addison Cain does amazing world building, it makes it easy to get into her worlds. Humanity has taken to living in various domes. The dome that we’re concerned about here is Tholos Dome, located in Antarctica. Not only has Tholos had to survive terrible wars and plagues, but the criminals that were sentenced to the tunnels under the Dome, called the Undercroft, have managed to break out and overthrow the city, so Tholos is in massive confusion.

In the destroyed Tholos Dome, Shepard, the Alpha-iest Alpha ever, led the criminals and executed the leaders of the city because of their corruption. He holds court in the Citadel every day. Claire, an Omega who is trying to disguise herself walks into the Citadel to confront him. She is trying to care for an enclave of Omegas who are in hiding so that they aren’t taken or forced into prostitution or a pair-bond. After her estrous is triggered by standing in a group of Alphas and faulty medication, a riot breaks out among all the Alphas and more aggressive Betas to see who can get to her first. Shepard wins, rushes her to his room, mates her, and forces a pair-bond with her.

Claire hates it, which I don’t blame her for it. She has spent her entire life trying to fight her biology, including staying celibate and locked in a room when she goes into heat. She fights off her initial estrous as much as possible in Shepard’s room so she can get her message to him. This says a lot about Claire. She is stubborn, devoted, and loyal. She wants to make sure that her people are safe, and that drives her a lot through the first two books.

We don’t have the same look in Shepard’s head that we do Claire’s, but it’s pretty obvious that he is pleased that he has a mate. He does love her, which is hard for Claire to understand. He does what he can to make sure that she is safe, which includes leaving her in a cinder block room, behind a locked door, and with a guard. That’s hard for Claire to adjust to. She often asks to see the sky or for a window, and at one point, Shepard points to his bookcase and tells her that there are a whole bunch of windows for her to use. When she does get to see the sky, she runs away.

That’s where we meet Corday. Corday is a young Beta who had been a LEO and is now in the resistance. Personally, I really don’t like Corday. In the later books, he really fucks things up and makes the situation worse. He doesn’t help out a whole lot here. He thinks he’s striking up a meaningful and potentially romantic relationship with Claire, while she sees him as a friend. He thinks he has some rights to Claire and that really colors all his actions. His actions cause a lot of problems.

Claire and Shepard are reunited and she gets pregnant. Her feelings towards Shepard start to change. Now, you know just as things are getting to be not so bad, something awful has to happen. And it does. That particular something awful’s name is Svana. She and Shepard have a lot of history. She’s a key to his plans. She is also a nasty, nasty, nasty bitch. Svana is also known as Leslie Cantor, niece to Senator Cantor, who was a leader of the city and in the resistance. Her actions cause Claire to run away again.

Svana puts her own plans into play, and she takes advantage of Corday. Remember how I don’t like him? This is part of it. She’s an Alpha and he’s a Beta, but I think that he should have at least started to see how he was being manipulated by him. He just never does. Not until Dane, another leader of the resistance, points some of it out to him.

Claire and Shepard are reunited, again. She struggles at this point. I mean, really struggles. She’s been separated from her Alpha, physically injured, assaulted, and isolated. None of that would be good for anyone, let alone a pregnant Omega. The amount of stress that she goes through is very hard on her. There are a lot of reasons for the stress. Part of it is that she and Shepard come from very different places and they each have a hard time seeing the other’s viewpoints. There is also a really good discussion of nature v. nuture that could happen here. Personally, I think it’s both. Their upbringing and their dynamics make it hard for each other to really understand the other.

Svana, with Corday’s help, causes lots of terrible things, and Claire suffers. Dear heavens, how that poor woman suffers. At the end of the books, Corday really gets on my nerves. He can’t leave poor Claire alone. He’s delusional and a twat.

There isn’t a traditional happily ever after here. It’s a dark romance. Dark romance doesn’t always have the happy couple riding off into the sunset. But, it works for the books, and it made me think for days. I also cried for hours after reading this. For most of the last half of the last book, which I haven’t really talked about at all, I cried. Addison has said that she cried writing it. It is hard to read. It’s intense. I read Born to Be Broken and Reborn back to back. My husband still calls them the series that devastated me.

I’ve glossed over most of the series because to go too far into it will mean that I give things away. Addison has put in so many subplots that all turn around and tie into each other and meet the main plot. You look at things that happened in the first book and at the end of the last book, you finally understand why they happened. It’s amazing, and that level of complexity leads to a great series and one that stays with you. I love these books and re-read them, a lot. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Alpha’s Control series which takes place in the same world and lets us see favorite characters. There is a sneak peak of it at the back of Sovereign, which is the second book of Addison’s great Irdesi Empire series.

I hope that I have whetted your appetite and that you find these books as compelling as I do. If you want to talk to me about them, I’m always up for that. Leave a comment and I promise I’ll answer. If I have convinced you to give them a try, remember that until 7/11, Born to Be Bound is absolutely free on Amazon. That’s a great deal. If you want recommendations on what Addison Cain books to read, the answer is all of them.

Blog posts for the rest of this week will be about Jennifer Bene, another favorite dark author, and her Thalia series, on Tuesday. On Thursday, you are going to get my personal Top Ten list of the darkest, most fucked up things I’ve ever read. Spoiler, Addison Cain and Jennifer Bene both show up on that list.

Alpha’s Claim Part 1

The Alpha’s Claim series by Addison Cain is an Omegaverse dystopian trilogy. Cain writes dark romance, with heavy themes, including non-consent and power exchange.

Now, while you may be familiar with dystopian fiction, most people don’t know what the Omegaverse is. I didn’t when I started reading the first book, Born to Be Bound. The Omegaverse is an alternate universe in which humans are broken down into three dynamics, Alpha, Beta, and Omega. The Alpha is the most dominant dynamic, generally warriors, leaders, captains of industry, and so on. Betas are the most common dynamic and would be your average human being. Omegas are the rarest dynamic and are generally very submissive. The Alphas have a knot at the base of their penis that locks into the Omega during sex, which keeps the penis in place. Omegas will go into heat, at which point they need to have sex, and it may last for a few days. Alphas have the same thing, only called rut. An Alpha’s rut can be triggered by an Omega’s heat. Alphas form pair-bonds with their Omegas. The pair-bond forms an unbreakable link between the two of them. That link can be used to feel the emotions of the other.

Most Omegaverse stories are male/male stories and either feature male Omegas who can get pregnant or female breeders who are only there for breeding purposes with the primary relationship being between two men. Addison’s books are one of the two series I have found on Amazon that have a male/female primary relationship. In her series, Alphas and Betas can be both male and female. There are also male Omegas, but they are especially rare, and we don’t see any in this series, although they are mentioned.

A male and female Alpha don’t tend to have relationships with each other because they are both too dominant. There also wouldn’t be a pregnancy between the two without serious medical intervention. The best way for a female Alpha to get pregnant is with a male Omega.

An Omega female can hide her dynamic and try to pass as a Beta. The heroine of the Alpha’s Claim series, Claire, does that. It takes a lot of work to do. She has to take heat suppressants to keep from going into estrous, as well as using special soaps and shampoos so her scent doesn’t betray her, and removing her body hair.

Coming tomorrow, my take on the actual books. Meanwhile, if you go over to Amazon 7/7-11, you can get Born to Be Bound for free. It’s a great story and series that I’ve reread a zillion times. The book was my jumping off point for Addison Cain and into the darker side of romance.