Shiloh is a sex worker in the small town of Greyhounds Canyon. While it’s not the most prestigious job, it’s one of the few he can manage as an omega who can no longer shift into his wolf form. Besides, Shiloh likes his job and the alphas he services in Madame Jenny’s brothel. However, that doesn’t stop him from saving up every dollar he can so that he can get out of Greyhounds and further away from Sutton Elder, the man who raped him, beat him and left him for dead five years ago.
Michael has a flair for the dramatic. Dressed all in black, this ex-Confederate soldier now works as a hired gun while hunting down the monster that killed his wife and son. It’s hard to look like a good guy, though, when he appears and the mysterious deaths happen almost in the same week. It’s not helped that he refuses to explain to the sheriff that he’s here to hunt the beast. Instead, keeping his purposes for the visit quiet, Michael just lurks on the fringes and does his best to not fall for Shiloh’s flirtation.
Especially, since Shiloh is the second reason Michael’s in town.
Wild Hearts Omega is the first book in the Whiskey & Scars series and (I think) takes place in an omegaverse United States sometime after the Civil war where everyone’s a shifter. However, there are several mentions of red dirt and the Outback, so this might take place in Australia? There are mentions of mpreg, but the two characters, for all that they fuck like bunnies after a lengthy flirtation, are not pregnant by the end of the book.
Shiloh has no shame or reservations about his position as a sex worker. He likes his clients and his clients like him, but he’s always quick to make them aware that he sees them at just that: clients. They’re not his boyfriends, his lovers, or anything more than men who pay cash for his time and body. He’s also the only male omega in the brothel, so he does fairly steady business. (There is no homophobia in this world that I can see, though there is some classism regarding omegas and alphas). Shiloh is also no fainting flower, no damsel in distress. When push comes to shove, Shiloh will damn well shove back.
Michael is … well, he’s the love interest. He’s dark and brooding one moment, playful and flirtatious the next. He loved his wife, but not as much as he loves Shiloh; he steals Shiloh’s money (this being the primary catalyst of their beginning relationship), lies about doing it, and then sidles up to be his friend and eventual lover with no guilt or shame … until the end, where all the reveals are revealed and he gives no reaction other than a few tepid lines. To me, Michael felt like a perfect Ken doll, pretty and obedient and hung, but with no real personality. Honestly, some of the side characters — the sheriff’s son who’s in love with Shiloh; Mr. Cane, the banker (also in love with Shiloh); Jehu, who cheats on his wife with Shiloh; and Micajah, the sheriff himself — had more personality and chemistry with Shiloh than Michael.
There’s also the slightly sour note for me regarding the fact that Michael was a Confederate soldier, and the majority of the town are described as fair skinned with blue eyes. That, combined with the glaring lack of any indigenous people in a book that — I think? — took place in the American West just bothered me. Especially with the mention of German settlers being the ones who had the folklore about the monster Michael was hunting, which is a local, native beast much akin to the Wendigo. Why would German settlers know about a native curse or a native monster, rather than native peoples?
The book was fine. Shiloh is a strong character and the town setting was well described, but the above issues just left me feeling a little off about this book. And for all that these people are shifters, they don’t actually shift until the very end. Why, when he’s tracking something, would Michael not track in his wolf form, when a wolf has a better nose? Why wouldn’t the sheriff’s posse?
I don’t know. I’m on the fence with this book. It’s not bad; it’s better than middle of the road, certainly. But I”m left ambivalent and aware that my reactions to certain parts of the world building are very personal. Still, that’s why I’m here. Give it a try if you’re looking for an old West fix (though I’m still not 100% certain if this is the United States or Australia), but it’s a very white Old West.