I just really savor Patricia Briggs, especially her Alpha & Omega series.
For me, some books are just good in total. When I finish and reflect, I think, "that was a good story" without really honing in on any particular thing that made it so. While others, I find, have specific scenes or events that kick me in the face and when I finish I recall those moments that made the book for me.
Dead Heat, and Briggs in general, does both things. I was entranced and face-kicked at the same time. I think that this series has that unique ability to do both.
On one hand, we have the quiet, stoic strength of Charles and his indomitable mate, Anna, who produce practically palpable levels of zen in their work and their relationship.
"She didn’t need him. She was a werewolf and he’d spent the whole of their time together making sure she could take care of herself. She was tough and smart. She didn’t need him to deal with a fae. But he was coming anyway."
It's not to say that they don't have stuff to figure out or bloody enforcing to do, but they're so wise about it, even when they're most vulnerable, that I could just weep for the beauty of their partnership.
On the other hand, you have all the other brash and (sometimes) volatile werewolves and dark, evil side of the Fae and the inevitable thrill of violence and magic.
When put together, it's such perfect pairing.
Charles and Anna are visiting an old friend who owns a breeding stable for a new horse for Anna - a birthday present. Amid dealing with dying friend, another dominant Alpha, and local pack/family politics, Charles and Anna fall into a mystery regarding a nasty fae who is doing some pretty creepy things.
And there's a big, bunch of horse show related material that fit in here for me, but was a major miss for some readers. I get it, I still don't know what posting a trot is, but I kind of liked it.
Dead Heat is another precursor to the larger arc of a forthcoming fae war. While this build up is interesting and compelling, it's lacking a lot of climactic steam. We may have a ways to go before we see this series peak. Or it may need a crossover book with Mercy and the gang for that to happen. I'm not sure what the end is going to look like. And because of this, I can see why some might feel it to be flat - this story is sort of incidental, but it still fits, and it's still really good.
Some of my favorite things under the spoiler tag, especially what kicked me in the face.