“And yet… Thomas couldn’t look at Kieran without thinking of the way Kieran glanced at him curious and shy, and not want to talk to him. Want to hear his voice, want to get to know him.”
In a word: Read the thing. If Omegaverse is not at all your thing you’re better off just skipping this one because, while it’s a good read, it’s not anything special. I really did enjoy reading this. Thomas, Kieran, Connie, Jessie, and their family and friends are very easily likeable and inoffensive. The romance between Thomas and Kieran went pretty quick, but it was fairly painless and low-drama. The thing I found more interesting was the world building. This story takes place in an alternate universe from our own; with biology dictating people’s actions and relationships far more than they would in real life. I’m not new to Omegaverse, but I thought that the story conveyed the basics of it fairly well for people who would be, and in a way that flowed along with the story being told. It also managed to establish this universe’s unique quirks in natural ways. There is some social commentary and gender politics going on in the background, but they weren’t what the story was about, so things didn’t get too deep. Though there were some aspects of the characters and their situations that I wished had been fleshed out more, all in all I have no real complaints. The characters were likeable, the romance was sweet, and the ending was happy.
[available for purchase at Amazon.ca]
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Trigger Warning: This book contains mpreg (male pregnancy), sexism, non-consensual groping, and mentions of miscarriages.
The World Building: This story takes place in an Omegaverse; and I say that like there’s more than one because everyone writes it a bit differently. This is the first officially published Omegaverse I’ve read (one that I actually paid money for), but I’ve read it a lot in fanfic over the years so by now I’ve got a pretty good idea of the basics (for the uninitiated, here’s an article that explains them). The Omega Nanny does a good job building its own world through the characters’ actions, dialogue, and opinions. It’s very obvious that this takes place in an alternate universe, and it manages to convey this without paragraphs of dry exposition. A few specific quirks for this universe is that until very recently betas were not allowed to get married to each other, it doesn’t seem as if unbonded omegas have much agency, male omegas do not have testicles (implying that they are unable to get anyone pregnant), alpha females have penises (one of the characters has two female parents that are implied to have conceived children together), betas have low fertility, and claiming an omega as a mate involves biting and leaving a scar (it’s not entirely clear if the omega bites their alpha mate back in return).
The Couple: Thomas Whittaker is an alpha widower who has been raising his daughter with his beta sister for the past six years. Said sister is about to be married and moving to Germany in a few weeks, so Thomas is in need of a nanny. Enter Kieran Corvey, an omega currently working in a coffee shop to pay back a debt he feels he owes his family for a broken engagement to an alpha who never really wanted him. Thomas initially doesn’t want to hire an omega as a nanny, but eventually caves at his sister’s insistence. Kieran turns out to be an excellent nanny and Thomas’ daughter loves him. Thomas is somewhat surprised to find himself also becoming fond of Kieran. Kieran quickly falls for Thomas in return, but he struggles with the confusion of wondering if these feelings are genuine, or if it’s just biology pushing them together. It’s an interesting dilemma they both have. The fact that this story is set in an Omegaverse changes the rules of the romancing, a bit. Thomas is an alpha and Kieran is an omega, so their biology plays a really big part in their interactions towards each other. Insta-love is pretty common in a lot of the Omegaverse stories I’ve read, and it happens in this book. Thomas and Kieran have only known each other for a few weeks before they declare their love for each other and decide that they want to be together forever. My only issue with this is that I feel like they didn’t get much of a chance to really get to know each other; though that’s just kinda par for the course here. I did actually like Thomas and Kieran’s interactions, they did actually seem to like each other as people outside of all the sexual tension and pheromone business. Their relationship’s biggest obstacle is really themselves; it’s a fairly drama-free plot considering. (Also I consider them both bisexual considering that they’ve been in relationships with both men and women, but in terms of the universe’s secondary genders they’re both heterosexual since Thomas is only interested in omegas and Kieran is only interested in alphas.)
The Friend: One thing that I really did not like about this book was the subplot surrounding one of Thomas’ work friends Nora Epstein. Nora is a beta who works with Thomas and who used to be friends with Thomas’ sister. We get very little history on Nora and her friendship with Thomas, but they are clearly close enough to have a relationship where they exchange banter and friendly insults and Nora keeps stocking coffee she doesn’t drink just so that Thomas can ‘steal’ it. At first there wasn’t anything for me to be confused about concerning them, except for the fact that Nora must’ve had a falling-out with Thomas’ sister at one point because she always gets a bit weird whenever their friendship gets brought up. But then Thomas asks Nora to be his plus-one to his sister’s wedding and things start getting very weird. From what I could tell, Thomas asked Nora to go to the wedding with him because he needed someone to go with so that his family wouldn’t ambush him with blind dates (or something along those lines) and Nora seems to be his only friend. There’s a few ‘are you sure this isn’t a date?’ jokes but they settle it by confirming that they’re only going as friends. Whenever either of them mentions it to anyone else everyone automatically assumes that they are now dating. And even when they deny it no one believes them. It started to really annoy me, especially since there were no hints at any point to give the impression that either Nora or Thomas are romantically interested in each other. And then Nora starts acting weird whenever Thomas insists that they’re attending the wedding as friends. It’s like she gets a bit sad when she’s reminded that Thomas isn’t interested in her, which makes me think that she has a thing for Thomas. It’s a subplot that, I felt, wasn’t written out well and just added unnecessary drama to the plot. Also I really would like to know what the deal is with Nora and Thomas’ sister since Nora’s reactions to mentions of her make it seem like something really serious happened between them.
The Ghost: So this is something that started out as somewhat sweet, and then turned kinda weird as time went on. Thomas is a widower. His first mate, Felicity, died a week after the birth of their daughter six years before the story starts. Thomas apparently loved Felicity very much. He misses her so much that he can sometimes see and converse with her. As I said, this was sweet at first. Thomas acknowledges that Felicity isn’t really there, that what he’s really interacting with is a memory and it’s all in his head. Some of the scenes are pretty amusing and I kinda saw it as a representation of Thomas’ internal conflict over whether or not to get involved with Kieran. But the more she showed up the less sweet it got and the more creepy it got. This book has no paranormal elements, at all, but Felicity eventually starts to feel a bit like a ghost as time goes on and she keeps appearing and Thomas keeps talking to her. I get that Thomas is still grieving for his mate and that finally moving on is probably difficult for him, but there had to be a better way than this to get the point across. It’s gets even weirder when there’s a short scene near the end where it looks like Thomas’ daughter can see and speak to her mother as well. It could’ve been sweet, but by that point I found the whole thing just creepy and off-putting.
The Side Characters: This is firmly Thomas and Kieran’s story, but Thomas’ beta sister Connie is a pretty consistent character with a story of her own going on in the background. Connie has been helping Thomas to care for his daughter, Jessie, for the past six years. A recently passed law has made it legal for betas to get married and now Connie is taking full advantage of that, planning her wedding to her fiancé Brent, also a beta. These new laws are giving Connie the chance to take charge of her own life and the possibility to create a family of her own, and she’s grabbing that chance with both hands. She has a great relationship with Thomas, and with Jessie, who is a very well-written child character. Jessie is pretty fun, and adorable and cute without being overly precious or annoying. The most interesting side characters end up being from Kieran’s family. First there is his childhood friend Cameron, an unbonded alpha who is providing Kieran with a job and a place to stay. Cameron has been friends with Kieran’s older brother, Desmond, since they were kids and has been in love with him probably just as long. Sadly, it’s a love that will stay unrequited as Desmond, an omega, is already mated and having children with his alpha mate (who never actually appears and I think it’s only hinted at as to their identity). I understand why we didn’t get to see much of Cameron’s story, but we see enough to get me to hope she eventually gets her happy ending. Another thing I wish we’d seen more of is the unfolding drama surrounding Kieran’s parents (Mark and Molly Corvey) and the alpha he was supposed to be mating with (Vera). Mark only shows up a few times, Molly only appears in the epilogue, and Vera doesn’t even show up at all; but I still feel that I would’ve liked more details on that whole situation. Especially since what’s implied by Kieran turns out to not be true at all. Though this story is pretty low-angst and bringing this whole mess to the forefront would probably cause angst like whoa.
The Sex: There isn’t really much to say about the sex scenes, which is kinda weird considering that this story is Omegaverse and that tends to make sex very interesting. Though, having said that, this particular story seems to focus more on the emotional aspects of a relationship than the sexual part, so I probably should’ve expected that. There is definitely a lot of sexual tension and stolen kisses, and two sex scenes. The first is when Thomas and Kieran finally give in one night and they both end up in Thomas’ bed for mutual handjobs. The second is when they finally get together and celebrate with sex. The second scene had the potential to be more interesting because Kieran suddenly (conveniently) goes into heat (referred to as estrus) and that usually turns sexual encounters into crazed lovemaking with the potential for dubious consent because the omegas tend to turn desperate for anyone to fuck them at that point (and alphas get caught up with all the pheromones and can’t help themselves, which is why Omegaverse has the potential to be both creepy and a way to explore rape culture and whatnot). Handily, Kieran already enthusiastically consented before his heat really gets going so it’s all above board. This scene with heat sex was actually went a lot slower and less desperate than I was expecting. It also seemed pretty romantic, considering. Also there was very little mention of knotting; it happened, but it was just mentioned in passing.
The Writing: This was well-written. I liked it. Though I do wish we’d gotten to see more of Kieran and his situation with his family. I figure that this story was meant to be strictly a non-complicated romance thing so Kieran’s backstory would bring up some unwanted angst, but I can’t help but be really interested in the dynamics there. We get just enough information to be curious, but that’s it. Other than that, and the weirdness with Nora Epstein, I have no real complaints about the story. There is one peeve I did have: everyone referring to Connie’s upcoming wedding as a ‘marriage’. I don’t know if that was deliberate on the author’s part (because society as she writes it doesn’t actually have weddings as we know them), or if it was a genuine mistake. Either way, I found it mildly annoying. Also I really do have to give kudos for the way Jessie was written. Child characters in romance are pretty hit-and-miss, from what I’ve seen so far, and Jessie was definitely a hit. She was cute and funny, but not overly precious and annoying. So yay for that.
[The Omega Nanny was published April 26, 2016, and is only available as an ebook]