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Veteran park ranger Alexander Doyle is tracking a nuisance bear when he runs across obnoxious environmentalist Martin Ramirez. He and Martin have clashed before, when Martin and the protestors under his leadership ended a plan to expand the network of paved trails and improve accessibility. Given a choice, Alex would rather face the bear.
When the dangerous grizzly attacks them and Martin is gravely wounded, his only chance of survival is Alex’s determination to keep him alive through the night. But they’re stranded miles from any hope of rescue with the year’s first snowstorm coming in fast.
Penny Hudson has an upcoming novel this month, whose blurb is quite intriguing for me. Because of that, I decided to see if I would enjoy her writing by reading this debut short story of hers, released last year. Unfortunately, this is another sample of a short story where … well, length became the major weakness. I love short stories … I read them quite a lot, actually. However, there are few themes (or plots) that require more than 20.000 words in order to give maximum impact on me.
Because of the length, I didn’t feel like I understand enough on what drew Alex and Martin together. Yes, they were ‘bonding’ when Martin was gravely wounded after a grizzly attacked them, but even those scenes were too short – and not quite that intimate – for me to believe that they were attracted with one another. Which was quite frustrating a let-down because Hudson had a good set-up here. Alex and Martin were practically enemies – with Alex a veteran park ranger who took his job seriously and Martin was an obnoxious stubborn environmentalist. “Enemies-to-lovers” is a difficult trope for me to love because I need to believe in the progress and this one didn’t have that. By the end of this short story, I still felt detached with both men and I didn’t feel like I knew them very well to care.
I did think that Hudson was able to describe the horror and the seriousness of bear attacks. One scene also made me chuckling a bit – think ‘dream humping’. I think this is another short story that will be better if expanded in order to explore the potential of the relationship because right now, sadly, all I could come up with for this story was “MEH”. It didn’t diminish my intrigue to try her next book though. I just hope with her novel, Hudson will have a better space for engaging plot and characters.