Book Reviews

Muscle and Bone (Breaking Tradition 1) by Mary Calmes

Genre Gay / Paranormal / Law Enforcement / Shifters / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 10-May-2024

Book Blurb

You belong to me and I know it down deep, in muscle and bone, where my wolf lives.

Avery Rhine isn’t an average homicide detective with the Chicago PD. In fact, Avery isn’t an average anything. Sure, as an omega he knows he’s at the bottom of the food chain, but that’s never slowed him down. He’s got a great life, complete with a loving family and a best friend who’d take a bullet for him, so what more could he possibly want or need? Except, maybe, for the world to change. And to find someone to spend more than one night with, but that isn’t high on his list of priorities. He’s never been one to believe in destiny or whatever else the fantasies sell about there being someone special out there meant just for him.

Then a chance encounter at a party changes everything.

Graeme Davenport has no delusions about finding his true mate. The consensus is that if an alpha doesn’t find their other half by the time they’re thirty, the chances of it ever happening go from slim to none. He’s not a mere alpha, though; Graeme is a cyne who sits at the pinnacle of lupine hierarchy, so he’s obligated by tradition and duty to choose an omega now, sign a contract, and bond with him. Love is not part of the equation.

When Graeme and Avery meet, their fierce attraction to each other flies in the face of reason and logic. Avery’s intense physical reaction to the alpha is something he’s never experienced before, while Graeme, who has always been the soul of discretion, loses all his inhibitions to desire for the man he wants to possess. They are two very different men trying to navigate expectations, separate reason from innate primal drive, and do it while working together to solve a murder.

It will take everything they are to find a middle ground, and to learn to trust in a fated kind of love.


Book Review

A fascinating paranormal world of shifters and a unique perspective on omegas is book one in Mary Calmes’s ‘Breaking Tradition’ series. It’s a world made up of antiquated rituals, the haves and have-nots, and a unique family who doesn’t follow the rules.


Avery is the youngest omega child, having two alphas for siblings, whose parents raised him exactly like their other children. The uniqueness of this is paramount to understanding the story as in this world, especially with the uber wealthy, omegas are raised to be arm candy, to care for an alpha’s home, to have and/or parent their children. They are not, like Avery, living out on their own and working as a homicide detective. Stereotypical omegas are all about finding an alpha who will ask for their contract and become their bonded mate as true mates don’t exist for omegas only for betas and gammas. The family of an omega is all about getting the best “deal” for their omega, the best value for the buck, so to speak. It’s disgusting and luckily for Avery, he wasn’t raised in a family like that. In fact, his contract contains a nonnegotiable clause that Avery will continue to work as a detective until the time he chooses to stop. This is unheard of. Avery is beyond unique and most alphas don’t even recognize him as an omega because he’s just too different.


But it became glaringly apparent with each passing second that Avery Rhine was not aware of the rules omegas lived by, because he did not, in fact, come back. He’d left me, his alpha, of his own free will. It was without precedent, and I was utterly gobsmacked. Honest to God, I had no idea what to do. Not only had I never been faced with this situation before, but the whole thing was nonsensical and completely out of my wheelhouse. ~ Graeme


Graeme isn’t just an alpha. He’s also a cyne and a member of the council. A cyne leads a holt, meaning many families, and it’s the cyne’s job to care for all of those people and guide them. Graeme is considered the pinnacle of what an omega could hope for as he’s worth billions and at thirty-four he hasn’t found his mate yet, so it’s time for him to contract and bond with an omega. But, his first whiff of Avery’s scent has him realizing that he’s found his true mate. A good thing, then, that Avery is different because Graeme isn’t enamored of omegas since he prefers his men to be ones who can stand at his side and not in his shadow. It is luck that has these two men meeting and it’s a hell of a ride from there.


This is an outstanding beginning to a new series. I loved the mystery portion and there are wonderful secondary characters I hope to see more of. The worldbuild is wonderful as is the difference to the standard alpha and omega type relationships that I usually see. Avery and Graeme are really hot together and there’s enough snarky humor to keep me laughing out loud. I am anticipating more in this series and can’t wait until the next book. Thank you, Mary Calmes, for a fabulous read.


“You’re my mate, and I know that beyond all reason. I know it down deep, in muscle and bone where my wolf lives.” ~ Graeme




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 301 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 30-March-2021
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link