Title: Romancing the Werewolf: A Supernatural Society Novella
Author: Gail Carriger
Length: 140 Pages
Category: Historical Fantasy
At a Glance: Though intended as a standalone, if you’re like me and want deeper characterizations, and you aren’t already familiar with these characters from the series in which they were introduced, you might be left wanting more.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Werewolf in trouble…
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 gay 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.
Wait, where does this one fit?
The Supernatural Society novellas stand alone and may be read in any order. But if you’re a stickler, this story chronologically follows Imprudence and ties specifically to events in Timeless. Look for surprise appearances from popular side characters and the occasional strategic application of italics.
Review: Gail Carriger’s cheeky sense of humor and delightful imagination shine bright in this book, the very things that offer her series I’m most familiar with, the Parasol Protectorate, so much of its charm. Romancing the Werewolf is set in an overlapping universe to that as well as the Custard Protocol series, and it was such a sentimental treat to see mention of Lord and Lady Maccon and visit with the vampire Lord Akeldama in all his effusive glory and perfectly placed italics, darlings.
Sandalio de Rabiffano, Lord Falmouth, or Biffy, for short, was one of Lord Akeldama’s drones—and was very much enamored of the vampire—before Biffy was made a werewolf. This story begins in 1876, when Biffy is just a pup whose Alpha side is as yet untapped, and who is still pining over lost opportunities. Romancing the Werewolf begins during events from the above mentioned series, and involves London Pack Beta Professor Randolph Lyall leaving the pack as well as Biffy—the man whom Lyall probably loves (there is enough evidence to suggest there are at least some deeply fond feelings there). Biffy had yet to become the London Pack’s Alpha when Lyall began his decades of service to Lady Kingair, which led him to Egypt where, for a time, he was exposed to the God-Breaker Plague…which resulted in some interesting side-effects for the Professor.
Lyall’s backstory is tapped into briefly, just enough for the reader’s imagination to take over, if one isn’t already familiar with his circumstances. Just enough to make Lyall a sympathetic, if not a somewhat tragic figure, and justifying not only the slow-burn romance herein, but the tendency for both he and Biffy to hold back when they finally reunite some twenty years later and Lyall returns to take his rightful place at Biffy’s side as Beta of the London Pack. Complications are inherent in Biffy’s position as Alpha and the tender feelings he harbors for Lyall. Should an Alpha and his Beta carry on an intimate relationship? In this ever so upright and proper society Gail Carriger has created, that in itself is not a simple conflict, and is aided and abetted by the fact that neither man will confess his feelings to the other. This internal conflict leads to the external conflict of a fair amount of unresolved sexual tension.
Biffy is such a charming Alpha, with more panache in his little finger than most men harbor in their entire beings. The only area in which he lacks confidence is his ability to be the Alpha the London Pack needs and deserves. He’s been missing an important cog in the leadership machine, though, and with Lyall’s return that lack is filled by not only his true Beta but the man for whom Biffy’s been pining for the past two decades. Now it’s time for Biffy to begin behaving as the Alpha he was made to be. I enjoyed Biffy to bits—his wit and style and respect for Lyall and what he’d endured, the time and space he gave his hurting Beta to work his way back into the Pack, and also the longing. Their longing for each other is ever present. Once the mitigating circumstances played out to bring them together again, it was sweet and worth the wait. Carriger delivers the romantic intimacy in subtle rather than blatant tones. Biffy and Lyall’s private moments together are about building and reinforcing their bond rather than the act itself, which I felt honors the tone of this entire -verse.
An American intruder in London Pack territory lends a bit of drama and mystery to the storyline, as baby after baby is dumped on the pack’s doorstep for these endearing werewolves to care for. Or, that’s what they end up doing regardless of what the original intent was. I absolutely adored the turnabout of babies being taken in as strays by a pack of wolves, and that they worked so hard to care for the little tykes until their real families could be found, apart from one little foundling who now rounds out their unconventional family. So, so cute. It was a nice way to plump up the storyline with something a little different and unexpected. Romancing the Werewolf also avoids so many of the tropes that appear repeatedly in shifter fantasy, and while I must confess I did miss some of the oh-so-clever steampunk technology Carriger infuses her series with, that’s more to do with my awe at her imagination than a lack in the story. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the reading, but this sure did leave me wanting more from not only Biffy and Lyall but from the entire London Pack.
While Romancing the Wolf is written and can be read as a standalone, there may be those, myself included, who would have loved to see a bit more characterization offered for both Biffy and Lyall. But, for the faithful readers of the series, it would have been a rehashing of things already known, so it’s a bit if a Catch-22 for those of us who aren’t so well acquainted with these characters. This book is, in its own right, a nice comfort read that feels like a gift to readers, a wrapping up of the budding romance between two characters that fans have been clamoring for, and the author to giving her readers a long anticipated fulfillment to that wish.
You can buy Romancing the Werewolf here: