Rating: 3.5 stars
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Miles McCallum and Simon Hume are friends who met through their Outcast wolf pack. Miles felt an attraction to Simon right away, but Miles was still dating his ex at that point. Simon wasn’t in a place for a relationship either, as he was still moving on from his marriage and dealing with guilt for marrying a woman he was never in love with or able to be attracted to. But as they have gotten to know each other, the men have become incredibly close friends.
When the guys are invited to the wedding of some their pack members, both end up drinking too much and acting on an attraction between them. But in the aftermath, neither man is quite sure where this leaves them. Miles still can’t help but want Simon, but he doesn’t feel good enough for him based on their jobs, with Simon a teacher and Miles a bricklayer. For his part, Simon is still feeling unsteady with exactly what he wants. He knows he is attracted to Miles, but he doesn’t feel the romantic feelings he thinks he should. Simon also has kids to consider and is still dealing with guilt about the end of his marriage. Despite their uncertainties, the bonds between the men are still strong. Now they have to figure out if they can move from friendship and a one-night-stand to something more between them.
Wolf Lust is the fifth book in T.J. Nichols’ Outcast Pack series, featuring a group of mostly gay wolves who have formed their own pack after being kicked out of or made unwelcome in their home packs. While the first three books were more tied together with an overarching plot about the pack, the most recent two stand more independently, though there is still character crossover here from earlier books. I liked the chance to reconnect with this group and the tie in to Drew and River’s wedding, though we don’t see much of the actual event here. I also enjoyed both Simon and Miles and found them appealing characters. The story touched on some interesting elements, such as Simon coming to terms with the end of his marriage and his feelings of guilt over marrying a woman he didn’t love. I really appreciated seeing the way he and his ex got along so well and how supportive she was over Simon’s new relationship. The story also just starts to explore the idea that Simon may be aromantic, something we don’t see often in this genre.
This is novel is on the shorter side, however, and I feel like there are a lot of issues brought in that aren’t given a lot of time to develop or get addressed. I think this is exacerbated by the fact that the plot is really just the guys getting together one night, then figuring out if they want more together. So the story is really focused on this particular conflict, but the issues that are standing in their way don’t then get the attention I felt like they needed. For example, Miles’ concerns about the disparity in their jobs is something that bothers him a lot, but they don’t really talk about it. The idea of Simon being aromantic is tossed out as a possibility, but we don’t see that develop, or Simon considering in any depth how or if that label might apply to him. I feel like if the story conflict is just all these issues potentially keeping them from being together, I needed to see them developed and addressed. As it is, the story moves forward quickly and a lot is left somewhat open ended.
While I really enjoy Nichols’s style, I also found myself struggling here with keeping track of these two characters. They definitely had different issues and backstories, but their voice sounded so similar, I had to often stop and consciously remind myself who was who as I was reading. It’s not an issue I usually have with Nichols’ work, but something just didn’t totally click with these guys for them to really feel distinct for me.
I think fans of this series will enjoy this installment, particularly if they like friends-to-lovers stories. I needed a little more development from this one to really round it out for me, but I always enjoy returning to this world.