Hunzinger's Mechanical Circus, a rollicking seaside carnival where imagination meets machinery, seems like the only bright spot in the dreary city of Purinton. But a shadow is cast there one day by a tall, cloaked figure striding down the boardwalk and behaving in a most eccentric way -- a man with strange eyes and strange ears and a mark at the base of his throat. He's Fanule Perfidor, commonly known as the Dog King, and he isn't welcome at the Circus. No resident of Taintwell is. They're all Branded Mongrels, and they're officially shunned.
So it's understandable that Will Marchman, a young patent-medicine salesman, is wary when Perfidor approaches his stand and begins asking questions. Much to his chagrin, Will is beguiled as well. When the two men meet again at a public house in the city's seediest district, all prejudice falls away. Lust takes over, then affection. An affair is born.
The naive but plucky pitchman soon becomes embroiled in a dangerous quest. Fanule suspects that Alphonse Hunzinger and Purinton's civic leaders are responsible for the disappearance or incarceration of countless Branded Mongrels. But why? As Will's passion and regard for his tormented lover grow, he's determined to help Fanule get answers and prevent any further persecution...or worse.
With the aid of a dead and dismembered witch, a vulgar bounty hunter, and a dapper, voracious vampire, Fan and Will take on a group of ruthless enemies. If only they can stay together and stay alive long enough to see their plan through...
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Excellent MM Steampunk with super interesting world, sexy romance and creepy plot.
The Set Up: Fanule is the Dog King of the Mongrels, a sub-culture of human-alien hybrids. Fan is investigating missing Mongrels and it leads him to Will, a worker in Hunzinger’s Mechanical Circus. Will and Fan develop a romance while uncovering the horrors against the Mongrels.
Why I Read this Book: This book gets lots of recommendations on the Goodreads MM Romance Thread and as I love Steampunk this was a no-brainer.
What I Liked: The romance is outstanding here. Will and Fan are both distinct people with their own lives and personalities and their attraction and growth as a couple is lovely to read. I like that the author had these two men just love each other without the drama of mistrust, deception or juvenile behavior. I also like that while their relationship is sexy, it’s also very emotionally intimate. Fan shares his struggle with depression and Will shares his abject loneliness. I like both these characters and their heartfelt and sexy romance.
The romance is set a stellar world too. The Steampunk element of aeroships and other gadgets is well crafted but combining it with the Mongrel story line elevates it to brilliant. I’ve never read anything quite like this world and I totally loved it.
What I Also Liked: I also liked the secondary characters here, especially a powerful but humorous vampire and a morally ambiguous bounty hunter. The other Mongrels are also interesting characters and play excellent roles in this well written novel.
The plot is fast paced and was perfectly creepy. Readers solve the Mongrel mystery along with Fan and Will and this made for an edge-of-my-seat read. I liked the resolution a lot and think it wrapped up this stellar novel perfectly.
IMO: This novel combines two of my favorite genres, MM romance and Steampunk, to make a great escape read.