Absinthe by Julia Talbot & BA Tortuga
Short Story: 38pgs
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Bartholome would give anything to get his young lover Rene to stop running away from him. Years ago, he made a stupid mistake, letting the rest of their wolf pack come between them, but he knows better now. Rene’s not sure he can believe Barthe will ever want him. Can they come back together before they lose their chance forever?
Maybe because it's co-written that parts of the story don't connect as well as they could. The story focuses on too many things that cannot be fully explored in a short story with this length. It's missing a lot of transitions and fillers that create mood, world-building, and character development. There are so many lingering questions about the shifter society, the MC's back stories, and everything else for me to enjoy the story.
Barth refuses to mate with Rene on the basis of their age difference even though they are mates. Surrounded by she-wolves that want to have Barth's children, Barth rejects Rene when Rene takes a stand as Barth's mate to decline their offers. Rene leaves the pack and Barth, after realizing his mistake, chases after him for 6 years.
It's not clear where Rene went for 6 years and how he survives in human society. Rene is a very stereotypical submissive wolf and Barth is the stereotypical dominant alpha. The mate bond is strong between them and Rene tries to reject it by running away. It's ambiguous whether Barth had a fall out with his pack or left in order to chase down his mate. The story didn't really play on the angst or any heavy emotion that the characters must have felt. The majority of the first half of the story is make up sex between the two.
Randomly, the second half of the story introduces a tortured soul that's stuck in a half-shift between wolf and man. Sebastien, Barth's brother, enters the scene and tries to help the man, Greg, who's half-shifted. It's unclear if they're meant to be mates too.
The ending is unsatisfying since it's left without a HEA or a HFN ending. Greg is still unhealed and they are traveling around the country to find a healer and a place to call home. It's interesting to see some French words and endearments mixed into the story. This seems like the result of a fun collaboration but story pieces are jumbled together with critical pieces missing.
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