I am not sure how or why I ended up with The Sumage Solution; I do like Gail Carriger (or G.L. Carriger as she is here), but straight up romance is really really not my genre.
The world of the story is probably my favorite part; it’s modern day San Francisco, but it’s mostly supernatural beings. Our main love connection is a mage and a werewolf, but some of the other couples involve werewolf-merman, a pair of kitsune, and a kelpie and her partner (species uncertain). The idea of the bureaucracy which is how Biff and Max meet is interesting, kind of like a DMV (a comparison which is directly made). Mostly everyone has some sort of quality that means they don’t quite fit in even in their supernatural world, like Biff who looks like he should be an Alpha but in is fact a Beta, or Max who comes from a prestigious mage family but can’t really use his powers. That’s where the titular Sumage comes in, that’s what Max is, a mage who can only use magic, here called quintessence, in a very specific and not entirely useful most of the time way.
This is also one of my issues with the story. The magic system is not nearly as well developed as I’d like and that’s a problem here because one of the major plot conflicts has to do with that magic system and how Max might actually fit into it. My other issue is that there isn’t a lot of romancing going on, just sex. There is a lot of that, although at least it’s pretty varied. The initial attraction is mostly physical, and so is most of the relationship. There is emotional attachment which of course is part of the problem since both Biff and Max have baggage from their pasts, but that’s stuff isn’t really part of the relationship most of the time.
The side characters are pretty interesting and scenes like when Biff brings Max home to meet his pack rely on how everyone reacts to each other, and it’s entertaining. It’s kind of too bad that one of the more interesting characters, a drag queen who lets the newly established pack use her apartment while she’s off doing shows in NYC, don’t get more page time. Likewise for Max’s kelpie boss.