sumage solutionRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Bryan has just moved with his brother, Alec, and their pack to California and the guys have to register to get permission to settle. As the pack’s beta, Bryan is the only one with the temperament to stay calm through a day at the supernatural equivalent of the DMV, waiting in lines and filling out paperwork. But it is all worth it when Bryan meets Max, the sumage in charge of processing their request.

It seems like just another boring day at the office for Max until the sexy beta wolf shows up. The guy is just the right mix of biker buff and sweetly shy to push all of Max’s buttons. In fact, they hit it off well enough that they agree to go out on a date that leads to a super sexy hookup. For Bryan, it’s a little nerve wracking as he is not yet out and has never before dated a guy. But for Max, things are even more shaky. His anxieties about what Bryan will think when some of Max’s secrets are revealed almost derails things between them before they even get started.

Once Bryan makes it clear that he does in fact want Max, just as he is, things begin to really develop between the men. Bryan comes out to his pack, and even though they tease him mercilessly, they all accept it. Bryan’s beta personality is just what Max needs to help soothe some of his more prickly nature. And the guys can’t keep their hands off one another. In fact, real feelings are beginning to develop between them and it seems like they may have a real future. But Max has some major emotional scars from a difficult past growing up as a sumage and being a constant source of disappointment to everyone who expected him to amount to more. When pieces of his past come back to haunt him, Max’s inclination is to run. Now he must decide if he is going to let his past rule his decisions and ruin his future, or if he can move forward with the man he has grown to love.

The Sumage Solution is the first book in G.L. Carriger’s new San Andreas Shifters series and it is off to a great start. This is a really fun story with a lot of humor and great banter and just an overall fun tone. But at the same time, Carriger really develops Bryan and Max’s characters and gives them nice depth and makes them quite interesting.

First off, Bryan (aka Biff to his pack) is pretty much the perfect book fantasy boyfriend. He is hot and burly and rides a motorcycle, but is also shy and tender. As a beta, his role is to take care of the pack, and so he treats Max so carefully and with such sweetness. Bryan is strong and tough and protective, but at the same time, he is not a posturing jerk ordering people around. Bryan is a bit possessive over Max, but also gives Max the space and independence he needs. He is just coming out and is sweetly shy, but also determined to be the best boyfriend and partner he can be and to always provide for Max’s needs. Seriously, the guy is basically perfect (plus, oh so doting in bed) and such a great foil for the more prickly Max. Because Max has had it kind of rough. As a sumage, he is basically a lesser mage, which is not something his super powerful father took to kindly. We don’t get a lot of detail on exactly what his upbringing was like, but it is clear there was a lot of pain and punishment of both the physical and emotional kind. So Max has up some major walls and it takes someone gentle and sweet like Bryan to break through them.

There is some interesting world building here, particularly on the wolf side. The most unusual for me was the role of the beta. In most shifter stories, the beta is kind of the right hand of the alpha in terms of leadership, fighting, etc. But here, the beta role is the caretaker and Bryan’s calm strength and need to look after everyone is what helps to hold the pack of somewhat wild biker dudes together. They are also an interesting pack in that they are led by a gay alpha, and have several gay members. These guys are a lot of fun and we get to know some of the other members here so I am really looking forward to future books in the series to see their stories.

On the magical side, things were also interesting, but I did find them somewhat confusing. There are some big elements that are revealed late in the book, so I understand why those details are not explained right away. But there are so many intricacies of how the magic works and the different kinds of mages and sumages and what each does and they all have different names and most of it is not really explained well. I did find myself somewhat overwhelmed at times just trying to understand it all. So I do think this could either have been better clarified, or else the world building simplified to keep this from being quite so confusing.

However, despite that concern, I really loved this book. Carriger really does a nice job combining the humor and the banter and the fun with some real depth of character in Max and Bryan. Max in particular is a really interesting guy and I loved seeing how the men work through the challenges they face, both internal and external. The story is quirky fun and it made me laugh and gave me a nice warm feeling at the same time. Not to mention that these guys are smoking hot together.

So if you are looking for a really engaging new shifter series, I would definitely give The Sumage Solution a try.

marine bilogyMarine Biology

Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Short Story

Alec is nothing like the rest of his werewolf pack. While they are all burly, biker types, Alec is a marine biologist. No one else quite understands him, nor do they know he is gay. When some merfolk from California come into town trying to track down the selkies who stole from them, Alec’s alpha assigns him to be their liaison. It turns out the merman, Marvin, went to high school with Alec and crushed on him then, and continues to do so now. Marvin makes it clear he is interested in Alec, but first they have to catch the selkies. Once the case is over, however, Alec decides to share his secrets with his pack and take a chance on a future with Marvin.

This is a cute, humorous short story that is a prequel to the San Andreas Shifters series. It appears to have been originally written back in 2010 under the name Gail Carriger and now re-released and recovered with the publication of the first book in the series. The story features Bryan/Biff’s brother, Alec, and explains how he came to be the alpha and why the pack moved to California. Although it is not necessary to read before the series, it does provide some cute background.

This one is light fun and a bit silly. We do get some general background on Alec and basic development of the werewolf world. However, we learn next to nothing about Marvin in specific or the merfolk in general, and as the non-POV character, Marvin feels mostly like the flirty foil to Alec’s character. There is really no relationship development here as the story takes place in about a day and the guys share some kisses and conversation, but nothing that made me believe they were suddenly ready for the commitment they take on. The fact that Alec not only is ready to move his pack to California to be with Marvin, but also says he is in love, seems unrealistic to the extreme. However, the story is entertaining and humorous and an easy read. I am not sure it would warrant reading as a standalone, but it was an enjoyable way to get me ready for the first book in the series.

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