Born an omega — a rare omega who is fertile and able to bear natural werewolf cubs — twelve-year-old Liam was treasured and protected and loved. He was also given into the charge of Caleb, a man twice his age who was chosen to be his protector and destined to be his mate. In the spark of a match and the bark of gunfire, Liam’s life changed. His family was slaughtered, scattered, and it was only due to his father’s sacrifice that Liam and Caleb were able to escape.
Liam thought he’d lost everything… and then he did. Caleb dropped him off with a pair of strangers and vanished into the night, leaving Liam with a ring and a promise to return. Twelve years have passed since then and Liam has put the past firmly behind him. He’s no longer a skinny, scared kid afraid of everything. Now he’s Charlie, who knows what he wants and how he wants it. He works as a stripper, showing off his body and his smirk, and making a good living at it.
Everything is right with Charlie’s world until a ghost from the past rises up. Caleb. The man who abandoned him. Caleb, his soul mate and other half who never called or wrote or sought to contact him for twelve years is sitting in a private room, waiting for a lap dance.
Can he go back to the life he left behind? Can he forgive Caleb for leaving when he needed him the most? And will Caleb even want him now that he’s no longer the innocent young omega Caleb left behind?
Liam, now Charlie, is an angry, angsty, selfish young man who enjoys pain and attention in equal parts. He’s lived a wild life and has no intention of giving it up. He’s rushed headlong into some unwise and violent relationships in an effort to lose himself, to forget the past. He has no interest in the future in any form, only the present, only the now.
Caleb’s return forces him to take a look over his shoulder, to remember the boy he used to be. Not that Caleb takes a long look. If Caleb doesn’t want the person he is now, then he shouldn’t have left, now should he? He flaunts himself, all but rubbing Caleb’s nose in what he’s done to himself and let others do to him.
Caleb was a young man when the pack was destroyed, only twenty four. He’s spent the past twelve years hunting down the men who killed his people, or trying to. He’s not the sort of man an innocent and gently bred omega ought to have as a mate. When he meets Charlie, Caleb isn’t dismayed or even regretful for the change in his omega. Instead, he finds himself attracted to the vibrant young man on his lap.
They go from strangers to love mates in the space of seconds with a brief conversation about their separate pasts. I never got the impression either of them really cared — either about the past, the present, or even each other. The characters’ behaviors changed based on the the needs of the conversation, rather than the conversation being shaped by the character’s actions and personalities. Not that I could easily find any personality beyond “I’m a stripper!” and “I’ve got tattoos!” anywhere in the book.
This short story takes place in the omegaverse with male pregnancy and submissive omega partners look for the most alpha of all alphas to bond with them. It’s a universe I’ve never quite taken to — much as I didn’t take to this book — and I wondered if I’d come into the review biased. But, upon a second reading, my opinion remained much the same.
The writing is adequate, the plotting simplistic, and the characterization is completely lacking. There is no passion between them, even in the midst of an argument or a lap dance. The brief conflict when a pair of villains arrived to carry off the fair Charlie was as dry and uninspiring as the conversations between he and Caleb, and the scene in which Charlie is assaulted is so brief that even the characters didn’t even pay attention to it. No reaction from Charlie over the near rape (or actual rape; the scene is described rather clumsily) or even from Caleb, other than a growl, some chest beating and — of course — the murder of the attacker. Then it’s on to the happily ever after; it’s time to have children.
There are better books with similar stories and actual characters. This one’s a pass from me.