Title: Saved (Breaking Free: Book One)
Author: A.M. Arthur
Publisher: Self-Published/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 243 Pages
Category: Omegaverse, Mpreg
At a Glance: This is one you must judge for yourself, for I do believe each reader will take away something different from this story, and that is perhaps the best kind of novel any author can offer.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: He didn’t want an alpha to save him, but fate had other ideas…
Braun Etting was raised to know his place as an omega by his alpha father’s cruel words and fast fists, and he expects nothing but violence from the alpha who may one day mate him. His older brother Kell mated a cruel alpha who abuses him daily, and Braun is terrified of that seemingly inevitable future. When Braun’s father dies in a car crash, leaving Braun an orphan, he’s sent to a halfway house for omegas. But on his fourth night there, he witnesses a horrifying crime that sends him fleeing to the streets alone—and edging into his first heat.
Tarek Bloom is settled in his workaholic, single lifestyle, even if it is somewhat embarrassing to be a twenty-eight year-old unmated alpha. He enjoys his job as a constable, helping people and solving problems, so he isn’t prepared for his life to flip upside-down when he walks into his beta friend Dex’s apartment to help with “a problem.”
The problem turns out to be an unmated, nearly in-heat omega orphan who Dex and his husband rescued off the street last night. The even bigger problem is that Tarek feels the mating bond for this terrified omega immediately—and he’s pretty sure the omega feels it, too. But Braun hates alphas as a general rule, and no way is he giving in to the bond. All mating leads to is violence and suffering, so no thank you. But Tarek’s gentle kindness slips under Braun’s emotional shields, and Braun begins to want. To dream. All Braun has ever known is violent alphas, but Tarek is determined to make Braun trust him—and to trust in the idea of their happily ever after.
NOTE: This is a non-shifter Omegaverse story with alpha/omega/beta dynamics, heats, knotting, and mpreg. In this world, omegas are second-class citizens with few civil rights and almost no protections under the law. Trigger warnings for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
Review: Let me begin by saying that I enjoy the work of this author, immensely. I have read many of her novels and always found them to be both entertaining and engaging. While I have a few concerns with this latest offering, I feel that A.M. Arthur is a gifted writer who knows how to weave a good story.
Let’s start with the blurb for this novel and work from there. If you have read it, I must tell you that I am not really sure I can add much in the way of a synopsis of this book without giving you the rest of the plot in its near entirety. I am not sure why the author chose to give so much of the story away in the blurb, but suffice it to say that she has indeed set up this review by giving you quite a bit of info that I have no intention of merely rehashing. What I can add to the blurb is that the incredible inner conflict that threatens to tear Braun apart, emotionally, is also the reason he cannot seem to trust in Tarek even when Tarek has done little to give credence to Braun’s ongoing fears. I don’t mean to minimize what the author has so obviously set up as the basis for this entire world she has created—that of such incredibly horrifying sublimation of an entire race of people—but I do feel that Braun’s continuous knee-jerk reactions to Tarek’s mistakes were, at times, heavy handed and a bit…unfair.
Given that Braun lives in a world where he is nothing more than an incubator—a breeder who has absolutely no rights is to say that he is essentially a slave to whatever alpha claims him. He is chattel, and if that is not horrifying enough as a thematic element, the abuse he has both experienced and continues to absorb is just short of nauseating. With no protections from rape, beatings, denial of all and any freedoms, the ability to protect himself and his body and even keep his own offspring, when and if he should get pregnant, is the world in which Braun lives. Given that his own father abused Braun and his brother, repeatedly, it is apparent that the life of an omega is one of abysmal torture. The rare alpha male who actually sees the omega as something more than a piece of chattel to use, abuse and toss aside is rare, and Tarek, a police officer, is one such man. He is what we hope that the coming generation will become, one that will begin to restore rights to the omega and see them as people and not goods to be owned.
To say that Braun is damaged and gun-shy is to minimize the despair he lives with daily. He is helpless not only to save himself from becoming some alpha’s breeder, but he cannot save his brother, Will, from the clenches of a monster whose entire existence seems hell-bent on beating his omega to death while sexually torturing him in order to gain an heir. There is little that is not bleak in this first omegaverse story, but if there were a bright spot it would be Tarek’s undying devotion, however misplaced at times, to Braun. When an omega comes into heat, he becomes a beacon to all alphas and begins a 48-hour hell on earth where the only thing the omega can think of is offering his body to slake the near insane desire for sexual fulfillment. It is an incredibly dangerous time for an unmated omega, and any alpha who desires to may claim an omega and use him sexually. Again, the omega has no rights—no way to say no if he is not mated already—and even then his alpha may give him to another to use. Tarek reveals both his inner self-control and his respect for Braun by helping him through this heat without forcing him in any way. Here is where Braun begins to dare to trust and hope that Tarek is not hiding a more abusive side—that this man, this alpha is different from others and really does see Braun as a person who deserves the same rights as himself.
A.M. Arthur makes no bones about the fact that this novel is a reflection on our current political environment. From her less than subtle use of the word covfefe to the incredibly racist and violent themes, Saved is most assuredly a commentary on today’s most disturbing governmental implosion. I had no problem with these overtones, for I felt the story itself was well written and introduced a world that is not farfetched but nearly interchangeable with our current reality. What I did struggle with was the way in which everyone, including Tarek’s close friends, full out condemned Tarek when he made mistakes in his courtship with Braun.
Yes, it was wrong of Tarek to use the idea of shielding Braun from further hurt as the basis for what was, in reality, actually taking the decision making process away from the omega. Yes, it was wrong of Tarek to lie and not be fully transparent with Braun despite the fact that we all knew that Braun was emotionally unable to handle the truth at all times. And, yes, it was an incredibly bad decision for Tarek to have to leave Braun in the middle of his heat to go be a part of a sting operation that he may have been able to hand off to another officer.
However, for the author to then use those moments as both a time and justification to hammer home what was wrong with the alpha way of thinking, while having her omega cut his mate dead in terms of communication and offering his trust, seemed really heavy handed. What began to develop for me was this not so likeable version of an omega who decided to be pissed off and turn his back on what he viewed as a scheming alpha he obviously could not trust, while also whining about the fact that he couldn’t live without that same alpha. Instead of giving Tarek a chance to explain, Braun repeatedly leapt to conclusions, and while I do not deny he had his reasons, as one who has always been abused and lied to by alphas, including his own father, I also felt that it never really allowed for the much needed trust to build and take root in Tarek and Braun’s relationship. Instead of actually allowing for the idea that Tarek was a decent guy, it felt as though Braun was accepting that he was getting the best he could hope for and not the real partner he craved. I was really torn as to whether I liked Braun by the end of this novel, or just pitied him and all the others for having to live a life that may never really be a life that they wanted.
Saved is a fascinating foray into a world that is mirrored in so many ways in our current day and age. It does indeed have everything one might expect in a paranormal novel without the paranormal aspect. These are humans not wolves or shifters of some sort, and when you remember that, the story becomes even more horrifying in its honesty. While this is not an easy novel to read due to its naked brutality and desire to be politically relevant, it is an important and riveting novel nonetheless. This is one you must judge for yourself, for I do believe each reader will take away something different from this story, and that is perhaps the best kind of novel any author can offer.
You can buy Saved here: