Title: Slow Heat
Author: Leta Blake
Length: 118k Words
Category: Alt U, Fantasy, Mpreg
At a Glance: Knowing mpreg isn’t everybody’s cuppa, I can’t say this book will be for everyone, but I can say that Slow Heat—in my admittedly limited experience—is some of the best I’ve read yet.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A lustful young alpha meets his match in an older omega with a past.
Professor Vale Aman has crafted a good life for himself. An unbonded omega in his mid-thirties, he’s long since given up hope that he’ll meet a compatible alpha, let alone his destined mate. He’s fulfilled by his career, his poetry, his cat, and his friends.
When Jason Sabel, a much younger alpha, imprints on Vale in a shocking and public way, longings are ignited that can’t be ignored. Fighting their strong sexual urges, Jason and Vale must agree to contract with each other before they can consummate their passion.
But for Vale, being with Jason means giving up his independence and placing his future in the hands of an untested alpha–as well as facing the scars of his own tumultuous past. He isn’t sure it’s worth it. But Jason isn’t giving up his destined mate without a fight.
This is a stand alone gay romance novel, 118,000 words, with a strong HFN ending, as well as a well-crafted, non-shifter omegaverse, with alphas, betas, omegas, male pregnancy, heat, and knotting. Content warning for pregnancy loss and aftermath.
Review: Set in an absolute patriarchal society where the only females that exist do so in animal form, Leta Blake’s post-apocalyptic Slow Heat is an mpreg fantasy that doesn’t explore how or why the Old World ended in such a drastic fashion as much as it explores the paradigms of a New World in which the alpha, beta and omega hierarchy exists through biological evolution. Let me just say here that this story is not at all about men who can shift into wolves; this story is about instinctive mating, the bridging of the Old and New Worlds in a wolf-based society, and the social and political climate of the time.
Not being at all what I’d call a dedicated fan of mpreg novels, I have to say that Blake avoids one of the reasons I’m hesitant to read them. With the complete absence of cisgender women in this New World, one might expect omegas who read as substitute females. Though only two omegas are featured prominently in the storyline—Vale and Jason’s pater, Miner—they are both written as cismale rather than cisfemale with male pronouns, notwithstanding the omega’s physiological ability to self-lube and reproduce. There’s societal conflict at play here as well, in omega supportive groups working to elevate their status above the archaic norms of alpha as the superior of the species, and betas playing an almost second class citizen role since they neither breed nor imprint. Bonds, contracts, transference of property, and the omega’s forfeiture of a good deal of independence upon submitting to his alpha is not only the status quo but is also a source of conflict when Jason and Vale meet and Jason imprints on the older omega in an animalistic and visceral way.
One of the greater political aspects of the novel is in the omega’s reproductive duties. Be fruitful and multiply isn’t just a theocratic concept in the storyline; it’s a dogmatic precept of the coupling of an alpha and omega. The omega is expected to produce heirs, alpha or omega preferred. To prevent an unwanted pregnancy isn’t illegal, though the government controls the means. To terminate a pregnancy, however, is against the law—though not unheard of. Of course, the juxtaposition to the real world political climate wasn’t lost on me, so I felt a certain kinship with the omegas, their autonomy, and their right to choose. Sexual phobias also exist in this world, even in a world where there is only one gender but where labels still matter and there are rules that go along with them, which plays out with Jason’s best friend, Xan, and promises to be the focus of a sequel as his nature wars with his status as alpha.
What I am a huge fan of is a May/December romance, and man, does Leta Blake touch on some of the many things I love about a well written one, the best being the young dominant/older submissive dynamic that exists between Jason and Vale. In fact, in looking at the cover, I could see it serving as inspiration for this entire book. Playing against typecast in this society, Vale is in his mid-thirties, has never contracted to mate, let alone bonded, and has an alpha friend-with-benefits (stay tuned for book two) who helps Vale through his heat—meaning Urho sexes Vale up so he doesn’t suffer through the physical pain of denying his body’s most primal needs. Vale is a professor, writes poetry, has a home, a demon cat, is a grown-ass man, and is content with the way his life is his own. When Jason imprints and scares the bejesus out of Vale, it upends the order of the life Vale’s built for himself.
And, Vale also harbors a secret that he has no desire to share with anyone apart from the only other person involved, let alone with the boy who is his Érosgápe—his one and only true soul mate—which adds a raw layer of conflict to an already complicated bond.
Jason, I adored. He was every bit of his nineteen years of age—smart, sweet, a science nerd, and still growing into his alpha skin. Not to mention that he was entirely unprepared for Vale. But I love how he took everything in stride, how he never once doubted he and Vale were meant to be, how he was ready to stand up against his parents, if necessary, in order to be everything to Vale without demanding Vale stop being Vale. The deep dominant streak that ran through Jason was everything Vale needed but didn’t know he wanted, and I loved the build-up of their connection beyond, and despite, what it meant on paper.
Leta Blake writes some of the most readable erotica out there in the genre. If you’ve ever yada-yada-yada’d a sex scene while reading, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say hers aren’t the kind you yada-skim just to get to the next scene in the story. Even the building sexual tension between Jason and Vale, before they ever consummated their bond, arced with a sensate and needful vibe that added to the complications of their already complicated relationship.
Knowing mpreg isn’t everybody’s cuppa, I can’t say this book will be for everyone, but I can say that Slow Heat—in my admittedly limited experience—is some of the best I’ve read yet.
You can buy Slow Heat here: