omega's choice coverRating: 3.25 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Bishop and Emmett were inseparable all their lives and it was inevitable to them and everyone else in the pack that they would one day be mates. Emmett was the heir apparent to be the pack alpha when his father stepped down, and it seemed just a formality that he would take over with Bishop by his side. So when Emmett instead decided on a life of military service and left the pack (and Bishop) behind, Bishop was devastated, particularly as Emmett had never even discussed his change of heart with him. Instead of the life he dreamed of with the man he loved, Bishop was left to pick up the pieces of his life alone.

It took Bishop a long time to get over Emmett, but as the years have gone by, he has moved forward. As an omega, Bishop fought hard for the right to go to medical school and now he is the pack doctor. He also has worked hard for omega rights and has become the first omega on the pack council. Bishop and his fellow omegas still face some prejudice from more traditional pack members, but things have come a long way. Bishop is happy with his life and his independence… and then Emmett returns.

Emmett has made a success of himself in the military, but as the years passed, he has realized what a mistake he made leaving the pack and Bishop. Now that the war is mostly at an end, Emmett knows it is time to return to the pack and the man he still loves. Bishop is not ready to run back into his arms, however, especially as Emmett gets things off to a very wrong start when he realizes Bishop is now a doctor and council member. But Emmett has learned to be patient and he is willing to wait for Bishop to take him back into his life.

At first, Bishop wants nothing to do with Emmett. While Emmett may regret leaving, he is making waves as he returns, shaking things up in the pack with seeming little regard for all that has happened while he was gone. And Bishop still isn’t sure he can ever forgive Emmett for the way he left. But those old feelings have never really gone away and, as the men spend more time together, they realize that the connection they once had is still strong. Now, Bishop and Emmett have to figure out if they can put the past behind them and move forward to a new future together.

Omega’s Choice is the first book in L.C. Davis’ new Wild Hearts Shifters series and I think your feelings about this one are going to rest pretty heavily on how you feel about Emmett. Unfortunately, I never warmed to him and, in fact, I found myself downright angry at him for most of the book. There are two main conflicts here that arise between Emmett and Bishop. The first is the fact that Emmett abandoned Bishop and their future plans when they were young, and Bishop is still hurt and angry (and rightfully so). The men were young, and Emmett regrets his choices, and he wants to reconnect with Bishop now that he is home. At first, Bishop wants nothing to do with Emmett, but slowly the time they spend together rekindles those feelings that never fully died. I didn’t love the way that Bishop seems to take Emmett back so easily with very little in the way of apology or real moment of reckoning. We know from Emmett’s internal monologue that he feels he made a mistake by leaving, but I needed a much bigger effort on his part to apologize and make things right with Bishop for me to feel all in with them again. It just sort of felt like Bishop’s hormones take over and he is still into Emmett enough that he eventually lets it all go, which didn’t give me the closure I wanted as a reader.

The second issue is more big picture than just the relationship between the two men, and I just couldn’t get past it. Emmett comes home, supposedly having grown and changed, but he immediately wants to roll back all the advances that the pack and the omegas have made while he was gone. When Emmett realizes that Bishop is a council member, he immediately announces publicly that it is an unacceptable role for an omega. He joins in enthusiastic support of the traditionalists in the pack who want to see omegas raising kids and not working, who believe in the traditional “class” roles and want them enforced. Emmett encourages dissolving the council, who works to ensure every member is safe and protected, in favor of installing himself as the pack leader with sole authority. He ignores that putting omega rights to a vote, with omegas being a minority of the population, means they are likely to get those rights stripped away. He disregards the very real fear that many people have — including the man he supposedly loves — about what the future may hold for omegas under this return to “traditional values.” Just to be clear, here is an except from a conversation between Bishop and Emmett about Emmett’s remarks at the council meeting:

“Everything I said was true, and I stand by it. You have no business being on the council, and it’s despicable that they would even put you in that kind of position.”

I stared at him for a few moments before finally laughing because if I didn’t do that, I really thought I was going to strangle him.

Or cry.

Maybe even both.

“Are you fucking serious right now?” I asked.

“Being a doctor is bad enough,” he muttered. “At least that is ine line with your natural abilities, but this… You have to see how ridiculous this is. There’s no way you don’t.”

I could quote a ton of other examples, but the bottom line is Emmett comes home appalled that omegas have new rights and actively works to subvert those rights and install himself as supreme leader of the pack with no council oversight. Bishop has a very real and legitimate fear he may lose his right to be a doctor, to have a job at all, to remain unmated, even to vote. And the person spearheading all of this is Emmett. I kept waiting for the moment of where Emmett realizes what a mess he has made, where he fixes the damage, where he apologizes for his actions to both Bishop and the town, but that never really happens. Basically, Bishop forgives Emmett everything because he is in love and lust with him. Emmett decides (as so many “traditionalists” seem to do in real life) that he now thinks it’s ok for omegas to work because the person he loves wants to work. So basically, take away rights from everyone else, but when it impacts someone you love, then we make an exception. Not to mention this change of heart feels out of nowhere and even as he supports Bishop working, Emmett never makes any attempt to fix the catastrophic mistake he has made with the pack, nor is this issue ever really addressed or resolved in the story. I am willing to go on a redemption arc with a character, but I need to see growth and change and making right what they wrong. But Emmett behaves horribly and does real damage and never seems remorseful or to make an effort to fix it and I couldn’t get past that.

I think there are elements of the story that do work, including a nice side cast. I think the writing is smooth, the story is well edited, and Davis sets up some interesting issues. I just feel like Emmett as a character says and does things that are so offensive and, frankly, too reminiscent of serious issues in our real world where those in power look to strip away the rights of others. And so I needed to see him make amends for his behavior and it never really happens in any kind of satisfactory way, and certainly not in a way that addresses the harm done to those other than the man he loves. I will be curious about the rest of this series to see where it goes, as it is set to feature different couples in future books. But while the writing technique itself feels solid here, this story never succeeds in providing the redemption needed for Emmett’s character.

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