Alpha Erased // by Aileen Erin

//published 2020//

Oh my, time is flying by!!  Yesterday was the release date for the latest addition to the Alpha Girl series and I totally forgot to post my review!!

While this series is somewhat outside my normal reading fare, I’ve really enjoyed the journey.  Erin writes likable characters and engaging scenarios, and I completely blew through this book as fast as I could.  I’m not sure how well this one would have read without the background of the rest of the series – there are a lot of characters to track and various types of creatures (like fey and werewolves and all that other great paranormal stuff) interact in specific ways in Erin’s world, so I do recommend starting at the beginning and going from there.  (You can read my reviews of the rest of the series here.)

In this story, Tessa is kidnapped, so we spend a lot of the story reading Dastien’s perspective.  I was super stoked to get inside his head for a little bit, because I’m pretty fond of Dastien.  I could have used a smidge less time of him flipping out about Tessa’s disappearance (he’s easily triggered, geez) as that got a bit repetitive, but overall this book just made me like Dastien more than ever.

This book’s strength is also its weakness in a way – it’s heavy on action.  That’s great for keeping the pages turning and keeping me wondering what was going on next, but now awesome for building relationships.  I get that Dastien and Tessa are forever bound to each other etc. but it would have been lovely to see a little more time of Dastien wooing Tessa back after she was kidnapped.

But if you enjoy paranormal adventures, I definitely recommend this series.  It’s great fun and I can’t wait to see which direction Erin heads next!

NB: I received this book as an ARC, which does not impact my review.

Lunar Court // by Aileen Erin

Last summer I read and weirdly enjoyed Aileen Erin’s Alpha Girl series, so when I had an opportunity to read the latest installment in that series as an ARC, I took it, despite the fact that I rarely read ARCs (way more pressure/commitment than I’m usually interested in).

So yes, these are werewolf books.  I don’t do a lot of paranormal reading because most of it tends to be too angsty/sexy/plain creepy, but sometimes you find a series that works, and I feel that way about Alpha Girl.  I really like the characters and the world-building.  I reread the series to work my way back into Lunar Court, and found myself liking Tessa and her friends all over again.  The first five books are basically all one big story – while they do a good job of having each book wrap up some small lines, the overarching plot continues throughout and is done really well.  From there, while the books are still closely connected, each one reads more individually.

In Lunar Court the story focuses on Chris and Cosette.  Chris is a werewolf, and has been one of my favorite characters throughout the entire series.  Cosette is fey, an area of world-building that Erin has been slowly developing throughout the last few books, especially in Shattered Pack, where we learned a lot more about how their culture works.  There are a lot of obstacles between Chris and Cosette becoming a couple, and overall this book was a lot more romance-focused than the earlier books.  As such, there wasn’t quite as much action.

My favorite part about this book was the dual POV.  The rest of the books in the series have had a single POV, which worked for what was happening in them, but being able to know what was happening with both Chris and Cosette, since they spend a lot of the book apart, really worked here.  I’m on Erin’s mailing list, and she’s mentioned that she enjoyed the dual POV so much that she’s thinking of using it for her next book in the series as well, so hopefully she sticks with it.

Overall, this was a 3.5* read for me, which is slightly below the 4* average I would give the series as a whole.  The pacing felt slower in this story – it didn’t quite drag, but some things definitely felt repetitive.  It also had a darker tone than earlier books, with themes of long-term physical and emotional abuse and manipulation.  There are still way more f-bombs in these books than I find necessary – one of my biggest complaints about this series as a whole.  Finally, while overall this series has done pretty well skirting around the religious aspect of paranormal, the involvement of archons in this story (who aren’t angels except they kind of basically are angels??) meant that this story was edging over the line of theological complications that made me more uncomfortable than the earlier books’ theme of “don’t mess with demons.”

Still, the story itself is well done.  I really like Chris and Cosette and totally ship them. I enjoyed watching them overcome the obstacles so that they could be together.  Hopefully Erin continues this series, as there are still a lot of characters to explore.  If you’re looking for some slightly-angsty paranormal, I totally recommend this series, especially since a bunch of the Kindle books are currently on sale in celebration of Lunar Court’s release.

The Alpha Girl series // by Aileen Erin

  • Becoming Alpha (2013)
  • Avoiding Alpha 2014)
  • Alpha Divided (2014)
  • Bruja (2015)
  • Alpha Unleashed (2015)
  • Shattered Pack (2017)
  • Being Alpha (2018)

Ever since I accidentally read Shiver and its sequels (by Maggie Stiefvater), I’ve been on the lookout for some more decent paranormal stories.  Most of them are weird excuses for erotica (honestly weird), so those are out.  I’m always coming across them for free or cheap as Kindle deals, but usually the synopsis doesn’t really sound that great, or the synopsis lies to me, which is obviously within the first few pages.

All that to say, I didn’t really have a lot of high expectations for Becoming Alpha.  I like to have a fluff book to read a chapter or two of before bedtime, and thought that I would give this one a try – I’ve been attempting to sift through the gajillion Kindle books I have and actually get rid of the ones that I’m really never going to read.  I soon realized that just reading a chapter or two every evening wasn’t going to be enough – I was completely drawn into the story, characters, and world building.

Tessa is not your average teenager.  Her entire life, she’s been having visions that she can’t control, visions that are sparked when she touches something, or someone, and gets a “read” from the emotions left behind.  At the beginning of the story, her family is moving from California to Texas, where Tessa’s mother still has some family.  They are hoping for a new start and also hoping that Tessa’s mother’s family may be able to help Tessa learn to have more control over her visions.

But things only get more crazy when they arrive in Texas.  Tessa’s dad’s boss seems very strange, and the whole neighborhood feels off.  Tessa tries to fit in at her new school, but things go badly awry at a party one night, and Tessa’s whole life gets turned upside down.

After Tessa gets turned into a werewolf, the series builds from there.  Tessa narrates most of the books, but a couple of them are told by/focus on other characters, which was also a lot of fun.  I really can’t explain why I so thoroughly enjoyed these, but I did.  Most of them were 4* reads for me, and they overall managed to keep the YA angst level reasonable.  (Except Alpha Divided, if I’m being honest.)

Although they aren’t as big of players in the later books, one of the reasons I initially got hooked on this series was because of Tessa’s parents.  It was SO FANTASTIC to see kind, loving, supportive parents who also love each other.  Tessa has a great relationship with her brother as well, and I loved that!  It was also really nice to read a series where there wasn’t any extra-marital sex.  Despite the fact that Tessa and Dastian are “true mates” (and there are other pairs in other books), they don’t just jump in the sack.  There were a lot of layers going on that went way beyond mere physical attraction, and I really liked that.  Even after they are married, all sex takes places 100% off-screen so THANK YOU.

There was definitely more swearing than I like to read, and I felt like there was more as the series went on as well.  I could definitely have done with about 99% fewer F-bombs.  They just feel basically unnecessary to me.

As the books progress, the werewolves get involved with a local witch coven.  I wasn’t honestly that comfortable with the witch/religion combination that Erin was using, but as the story developed I was more willing to work with it.  It’s definitely a New Age feel with lots of good vs. bad vibes/energy that aren’t exactly Scriptural, but in some ways the dangers of tampering with powers you don’t understand (i.e. calling on demons) is emphasized.  I guess I didn’t really feel like these books were actually encouraging witchcraft in real life, any more than it was encouraging people to be werewolves.  Instead, it just felt like this whole story was taking place in a different world, and while I wasn’t thrilled with the way religion was involved, I didn’t really find it offensive.

These weren’t perfect stories.  Sometimes the action was too slow or felt choppy, and I definitely could have used way less swearing.  But overall they were good fun with likable characters and an engaging plot that carries through the whole series, even while each books tells its own story.

If you’re like me and you enjoy some YA now and then, and also don’t mind a good dose of paranormal, these are definitely fun reads.  I’m already excited about the next book.