Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Kirt Graves
Length: 10 hours
Max was a disappointment to his father. He didn’t live up to his supernatural power and being gay was way more than his father could take. Max now works a government job as a sumage, the lowest level of mage, where he cleans up messes and does paperwork. He’s not respected by anyone and he’s certainly not in the mood to process a werewolf looking to relocate his pack.
Bryan, known to some as Biff, is the beta to his brother, the alpha. The werewolf pack has just relocated to San Francisco and getting registered is a high priority. Bryan’s temperament is perfect for having to sit through the registration interview and, apparently, he’s also perfect for Max. Bryan isn’t out to anyone, but Max is completely irresistible and he’s ready to go all in. Wolves aren’t supposed to be attracted to mages on any level, but everything about Max calls to Bryan, from Max’s scent to his smart mouth, and all Bryan’s beta side wants to do is take care of Max. But for all of Max’s bravado, his past is one filled with pain from the hands of his father. When elements of that past come forward once again, it may just be time for Max to stand up and fight with Bryan right by his side.
This book brings shifters and some magic together. We meet Max, who is looked at as a disappointment by everyone. He’s the lowest form of mage, sumage, and there is a disdain that comes through when anybody so much as mentions his title. He gets through his days cleaning up messes, but after work hours he doesn’t have many friends and his life is fairly isolated.
Bryan comes into his life in a whirl of motorcycle and bad boy looks, but looks can be deceiving. As the role of beta, Bryan’s life is dedicated to taking care of the needs of anyone he cares about and that instantly transfers to Max. The guys have a snarky banter that was fun at times but juvenile and not so much fun at others, and Bryan will do anything for his new found love. In some ways that was good to see that finally there was someone to care for Max, but it was smothering at times and too much for my tastes at certain points.
I had a difficult time with the larger world here and part of it may have been due to the audio delivery, but mostly there was an overwhelming amount of detail not explored for me. At first, how Max was classified as sumage was not clear. We get glimpses of his life with his father and what went wrong, but there was still some clarity missing for me as it was presented. The larger world as well wasn’t clear for me. There is a huge reveal well into the book that is disclosed in passing as a memory, and it was way too huge to be revealed in the way that it was with only minimal information offered. On a smaller scale, the day to day life of all the supernatural beings and how they all fit in was sparse and I really needed more to pull the world together. Yet, for all of this, I knew exactly what Max’s end game was going to be and then that became another area that lacked a real draw for me.
The relationship aspect worked though as Max and Bryan learn to trust each other and build upon having a life together. Their relationship began to interest me more well into the book when the true tension arose. I enjoyed their interactions mostly and Bryan’s pack has some interesting characters and I would take a look at the next blurb to consider if I would move on with this series.
Kirt Graves narrated this one and he does a nice job overall. I have listened to two other performances from this narrator and while this one didn’t quite live up to those, he offered a solid reading here. Graves handles accents well and Bryan, as well as a few side characters, all had distinct and believable voices. Max’s voice was also distinct, but he was also close to the basic narration voice as well as a few of the secondary characters and some voices remained similar. There were a few effects added in as there is a lot of inner dialogue from both characters that was set off by a mild echo effect that worked to differentiate it from conversation. I’m not convinced, however, that this book was best served in the audio format. There were many words that were specific to the world that further made some areas more difficult to follow without seeing those words in print.
I was mixed on my feelings for this book. I liked the characters and their relationship together, but the overall world suffered for me with a distinct lack of clear world building.