Rating: 4 stars
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When young girls start to disappear throughout the Hungarian countryside, vampire and noble, Bowie, realizes something must be done. He approaches the local werewolf pack seeking a tracker and meets Andras, crudely called Mongrel by his own people. Andras is imperfect, as he never fully transforms into a human, but to Bowie he’s wonderful. Bowie doesn’t care about all the things that make Andras different; instead, he appreciate the man’s willingness to help and his gentle nature.
As the hunt for a gruesome and all too human monster commences, Bowie and Andras come to depend on and trust one another. And as trust turns to love, they find the stakes in their task becoming ever more complicated. They will have risk everything to save an innocent child and put an end to a villain’s reign of terror.
Mongrel is a sweet, though somewhat uneven, romance between two characters that work well together. It does contain some historical reference to Elizabeth Bathory who may (or may not) have been one of the most prolific serial killers in history. She was eventually arrested and imprisoned in her castle, where she was held for the remainder of her life. So feel free to look her up before diving into Mongrel.
Andras and Bowie are a rather warm and fuzzy couple and only rarely are we given cause to remember Bowie is actually a vampire. For Andras, his wolf is a constant part of him, but even so, he’s very human and both men seem relatable in their way. They work well together and, nearly from the start, it was easy to see they just “fit” together and their companionable romance is the highlight of the book.
I’m not sure the author really establishes the specific historical ambiance of 17th century Hungary. Instead, I felt like the book took place in a sort of generalized European world with some historical stuff thrown in here and there. This doesn’t make it bad, but historically the book seemed to lack something. The moments between Andras and Bowie are well paced, but when the book veers too far away from focusing on their relationship, it tends to struggle with maintaining an even sense of action and purpose. Basically, it worked better as a romance than a horror-driven drama.
Mongrel was a generally enjoyable read with two protagonists that worked as a well meshed couple. Neither man “fits” into the wider world, but with one another they don’t have to worry about fitting and that sweetness comes through. The pacing suffers at points and the story struggles to find its historical voice, but I think most fans of the paranormal will enjoy Mongrel.
I’m reading this right now (about 60% done) and I’m *loving it*, the character-driven romance with the subtle opposites-attract flavor is really my kind of catnip. I love how Andras’s pack doesn’t accept him, but he enjoys being himself, while Bowie’s family loves and cares for him but he doesn’t love himself. There’s also the way Bowie can hide his vampire nature, but Andras’s wolf nature is always on display. I really enjoy Lee Colgin’s writing style and this book has all she does well in spades! <3
So glad you are enjoying this one!
I’m intrigued! Thanks for your review, Sue.