Maybe because this was self-published, but this was one of the most fanficky romance novels I’ve ever read. And that’s not a negative! It was sort of bonkers in the way it just went for it. I liked the first half much better than the second half, though, in that regard. Then it sort of went off the rails at the end. I still enjoyed it, but at least to me, it was obvious this book was self-published. It felt much less polished than other books I’ve read by Gail Carriger.
This book is set in a world where both shifters and mages are common. The worldbuilding on that was confusing at first, but the details aren’t really important to the central story. Bryan is a wolf shifter (aka werewolf) whose pack has just moved to the San Francisco area, and Max is a government employee who basically works for the shifter equivalent of the Motor Vehicle Department. Mages and werewolves don’t normally like each other much, but Bryan and Max are attracted to each other right away and fall into dating. I thought their courtship was sweet, even if a bit fast, and read like a lot of fanfics I’ve read, again, not in a bad way.
And then halfway through she introduces all this fantasy plot, and it was confusing, poorly explained, and felt shoehorned in. It also felt really clumsy and obvious. SPOILERS Of course Max is the Super Special Chosen One! Of course he is! END SPOILERS. I would have preferred the book cut that plot almost entirely, or downplay it, because the real show for me was the romance, not the fantasy plot. Maybe if it had been executed differently, and been built up to and explained properly, I’d feel different. (Also, she did this really weird thing where she decided to make this set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, except in the future after some magical catastrophe where the Aether has gone away and become magic instead, and I just felt that was entirely too much and unnecessary. Just make it a new world! New readers will be fucking confused. Old readers will be confused and irritated – hello!)
I will be continuing with the series for now, just because, but I can’t say I’m not a little disappointed with this one, particularly since I was so charmed by the first half.