A guest review from Lasha
Summary Review: Another JL Merrow book that takes a traditional trope (werewolves) and gives it a new and emotionally satisfying twist.
The hookup from hell…or the ride of his life?
Leon’s drifter lifestyle gives him the freedom to attend as many music festivals as his heart desires. Even theones that leave him covered in feathers. Wet feathers, thanks to the rain as he hitchhikes back to his hostel. When he’s offered a ride by a good-looking man in a Porsche, Leon thinks it’s his lucky night. Until he discovers his savior from the storm hides a dark secret: he’s a werewolf.
At first glance, Christoph thinks the shaggy stranger walking Berlin’s streets is a rogue werewolf. By the time he realizes his mistake, it’s too late for both of them. Forced to turn Leon into a monster to save his life, Christoph still has to suffer his pack leader’s brutal punishment for endangering them all.
Leon awakens, horrified by what he’s become—but it’s his lover’s fate that spurs him to action. Freeing Christoph is easy, but the aftermath complicates everything as they go on the run, desperate to uncover the secrets their pack leader is hiding. Secrets the pack will kill to protect…
So far I have enjoyed every JL Merrow book I have read. She has a distinctive voice in her novels and Midnight in Berlin is no exception. Set in Germany, the setting is everything in this book about an American drifter turned into a werewolf against his will. All throughout the book, I was transported into German culture, life and location. (And this comes from someone who only ever visited Germany once – and doesn’t remember much since it was Oktoberfest!) Told in first person from Leon’s perspective, the novel explores his viewpoint as his life is turned upside down once he is turned into a werewolf and forced into a dysfunctional pack that includes the man who turned him (Christoph).
The plot revolves around Leon, an American living and working in Germany. In the beginning, I found Leon to be unmotivated, flighty and unsure of where he is going in life. Once a hot guy in a Porsche picks him up, his life will never be the same again. You see Christoph is a werewolf, and he mistakes Leon for another shifter, a potential mate, and winds up biting Leon. That bite turns Leon and he is forced into Christoph’s pack, having to learn the ropes from some seriously demented werewolves, who seem more like they are in a cult, than a pack. As Leon and Christoph grow closer they decide they have to leave their pack, but will the pack leader let them go?
The best thing about this book was its characterizations. Normally first person POV is limiting, but in my estimation Midnight in Berlin has a great deal of interesting characters, who are complex, multi-faceted and intriguing. Whether I was hating the ‘villain,’ or cheering the protagonist, I was emotionally invested in every aspect of the plot which for me is sometimes lacking in werewolf novels where the mating/bonding/Instant-Love trope is paramount.
Secondly, every time I thought I knew where the novel was going in terms of plot (I mean I’ve read enough of these shape shifter books to know what usually happens), JL Merrow would take the action in an opposite direction. In fact, a totally opposite direction that was so much more emotionally satisfying than if she had just followed the tried and true trope of the genre. Since I can’t give away spoilers, what I can say is that Midnight in Berlin bucks the traditional werewolf/shifter book in a genuinely fascinating way. When an author can make a reader feel sympathy for a formerly despised character, that takes true talent.
Very much recommended.