Formats available: paperback, ebook
Published by Rocky Ridge Books on October 9th, 2015
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Lon Ewing snowboarded in and turned economist Corey Levigne’s life upside down, introducing him to a world he didn’t know existed. Corey’s still adjusting to a boyfriend who shifts into an otter and raids the koi pond—and now Lon says Corey’s department chair is a werewolf?
Wolves at the university, wolves in the bank—across Lon’s desk sits Professor Melvin Vadas and his hench-wolves, demanding a construction loan for the pack’s new lodge in the mountains. There’s just one little problem: the proposed building site is home to a breeding population of rare fish.
What do wolves care for stupid human rules, an otter who’d barely make a good snack, or one pesky human determined to protect the environment? Once they’re snout to snout with Corey and Lon, there’s more than silverscale dace on the Endangered Species List.
Includes Tail Slide, the short story that launched Otter Chaos.
Fresh powder snow and running water in the Colorado back country call Lon like the moon calls the wolves. Belly-sliding to a good time on the weekends makes up for a workweek at a desk, and meeting Corey adds a whole new level of fun to snowboarding.
It’s easy to slip away for time alone in the woods without raising suspicion, but how’s Lon to entertain himself when bad snow and a worse spill force them off the mountain too early?
Never give an otter a box of Cheerios.
What would you do if you found out your boyfriend was an otter?
Not all the time. But what if you discovered that your new love had to “put on his fur” for at least an hour every week and quite literally turn into an otter? How freaked would you be?
Now, let’s make life even more confusing. Say that you are a relatively freshly-minted Ph.D. on the tenure track at your college. And your new otter-boyfriend lets you know that your department chair, the man who will decide whether or not you get tenure and remain gainfully employed, is a werewolf?
It should be time for a complete freak out. But Corey takes things mostly in stride, unless Lon comes back in the house with raw koi on his formerly otter-breath. And even that is mostly because the koi he just ate is from the koi pond in their backyard, that they spent hours digging out. And koi seem to cost $1 per inch.
It looks like catching your own sushi is more expensive than anyone thought!
The short story Tail Slide, included with Otter Chaos, tells the story of Corey and Lon’s first meeting and the beginning of their relationship. Including the moment when things almost go completely off the rails, when Lon puts his fur on in the shower, and Corey discovers that the otter-version of his lover thinks that Cheerios are the BEST TOY EVER!
Tail Slide is adorably cute (so is Lon) and it does a good job of setting up the much more serious situation in Otter Chaos.
It’s not just that Corey’s department chair is a werewolf, but also that he is the leader of a pack of werewolves that plans to build a werewolf sanctuary out in the middle of an endangered species habitat. Werewolves are apex predators, and they are all-too-used to getting what they want just because they want it. Those werewolves expect to get a loan from the bank to build their sanctuary, but Lon is their loan officer, and he stands in their way.
For the sake of his two-footed job, Lon needs all the paperwork filled out properly, including the environmental impact statement and some idea of where on earth they will be getting the money to pay back the loan. That Lon didn’t just roll over and play dead shows the werewolves, as if they couldn’t already smell, that Lon is a shifter who knows just what they are.
Corey is researching economic effects of endangered species preservation, and he knows that there is a not-very-cute-or-photogenic species of endangered fish living on the proposed preserve. So he and Lon both stand in the way of werewolf progress. Or at least werewolf recreation.
When they try to investigate on their own, Corey and Lon find themselves caught in the middle of a werewolf dominance struggle, and it looks like everyone is going to lose.
Melvin, Corey’s boss, may lose his life. Lon is forced to remain in otter-form for too long, and he may lose his humanity. And Corey could lose the love of his life.
Escape Rating A-: Tail Slide is just plain fun, but Otter Chaos takes a dip into very serious. There are a lot of mixed agendas here. Corey wants to keep Lon and his job. It shouldn’t be difficult.
For someone whose view of the universe has taken a giant cosmic shift, Corey is surprisingly laid back about the whole thing, at least until Lon gets himself trapped in an aquarium for a day and has a very, very hard time switching all the way back from “fur on” to “fur off”. It’s pretty obvious that this episode is a foreshadowing of something terrible that will happen later.
The werewolves, even in their human form, are deliberately scary. They expect people to roll over without knowing what they are – they just kind of ooze predator. And it mostly works, but only if you are not conscious of what’s going on. And once you know, you can’t pretend the reaction, because it’s just too instinctive.
Corey is afraid of Melvin, and rightfully so. Melvin is threatening his job and his lover, and isn’t being at all subtle about it. Corey stands up to Melvin because not showing fear is the only way to survive. Their interactions carry just the right amount of fear and menace, without it seeming completely foolish that Corey refuses to bow.
I found Corey and Lon to be cute as a couple, but the way that Lon’s otterish behavior carries into his human life on a daily basis would make him a challenge in the long term. Otters seem to have relatively poor impulse control, and that affects Lon as a human in ways that sometimes make him seem irresponsible. But when he loses his human side altogether, it is horribly frightening.
If you have a friend who isn’t sure about male/male romances, Otter Chaos is probably a great story to introduce them to the genre, especially if they like a touch of paranormal in their romances. This could have been a male/female, or female/female, romance with very little change. The issue in the relationship between Corey and Lon, or between Corey and Lon and the rest of the world, after all, isn’t that they are gay. It’s that Corey turns into a small furry animal at least once a week! That has a huge potential to freak anyone, and everyone, out.
I’m not sure that most of us would handle things half as well as Corey does. Especially when Lon’s mother tells him that she wants grandotters.