Saturday, August 11, 2018

Gail Carriger - Romancing the Werewolf

Biffy, newly minted Alpha of the London Pack, is not having a good Christmas. His Beta abandoned him, his werewolves object to his curtain choices, and someone keeps leaving babies on his doorstep.
Professor Randolph Lyall returns home to London after twenty years abroad, afraid of what he might find. With his pack in chaos and his Alpha in crisis, it will take all his Beta efficiency to set everything to rights. Perhaps, in the process, he may even determine how to mend his own heart.
New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger presents a charming love story set in her popular steampunk Parasolverse. Featuring the long-awaited reunion between everyone’s favorite quietly capable Beta and the werewolf Alpha dandy who let him slip away.
This sweet romance is full of unexpected babysitting, holiday decorations, and no small amount of pining. Look for surprise appearances from popular side characters and the occasional strategic application of italics.

Comment: This novella is part of the world created by Gail Carriger, which started with the full length novel Soulless. I've loved that series although some of her other ones weren't as impressive to me. I had hopes this novella in a beloved "universe" would be amazing too.

In this story, Biffy is the new alpha of London's werewolves but he feels he's not dealing with things as easily as he once imagined. His having trouble to find his place in all this but he still tries, despite some issues he can't seem to control. 
However, after an absence of twenty years, Professor Lyall finally returns home so he can become the Beta the pack needs. He feels maybe his coming back might not turn out to be what he wants, which is to go back to where things were before he left but his position in the pack can't be dismissed. 
If only Biffy were the same person he was the first and only time they were together all those years ago...

I got interested in this book because it featured two characters I liked a lot in the original series. Fans of the Parasol Protectorate certainly are able to recognize Lyall and Biffy as recurrent characters from that series. Their paths are incredible to follow in that overall arc story so for those who haven't read the mentioned series, perhaps they should read that first, it does add a lot of meaning to some situations we have in this novella.

Still, in terms of plot, of course this is still readable and makes sense even without having read the previous stories. But for new readers, maybe some details won't make as much sense.

The plot itself is very simple since it addresses the new relationships between pack members after Lyall's return and a secondary issue which makes things move along, namely the strange finding of babies at the steps of the pack's house.
It's not difficult to follow this story nor is it complicated to imagine where it goes in terms of romance. I still think something more could have been done about the plot but it offered the necessary elements to be understood.
The writing is the classical Gail Carriger, very formal and wordy at times, in a very peculiar but funny way.

It's rather obvious the romance is the key element here. I was so anxious while reading the original series where they appeared and to think their story might not have a resolution - because their connection seemed quite amazing even if not really contemplating the "mates" notion. I think this novella isn't enough and I think a full length book would have explored some situations even better, like how much of a couple they can be in front of others and all that. 
There are several details mentioned while they talk and part of me did like the subtlety of their looks and longing but it would be amazing to have fireworks somehow, to better validate the strength of their feelings. I miss more romantic scenes besides the inferring we do while reading between the lines or following inner thoughts.

At the end of things, I just feel glad this story exists. It's not as perfect as I hoped for but Biffy and Lyall do seem a matching couple and I feel glad they found happiness with each other and are well accepted by their friends.
Grade: 7/10

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