The Magical Christmas Cat

Nalini Singh, Erin McCarthy, Linda Winstead Jones and Lora Leigh
2008, Paranormal Romance
Berkley, $15.00, 372 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425223558

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Varies

I own more than one cat nightshirt. I am not above putting outfits on my own kitty and forcing him to pose. Put these facts together and it’s obvious that my tolerance for cat sap is, as you can tell, incredibly high. Still, even starting from my extreme level of Cat Lady-dom, I found the Hallmark-y illustration on the cover of this anthology to be nausea-inducing, not to even mention inexplicably off-target. Why the latter? Because anybody picking it up expecting cute kitties will instead be confronted with two shape shifters, one demon cat, and one sort of normal kitty. I liked the book, but a celebration of cute kitties it’s not. Get a clue, art department.

Shapeshifter Romance
Sensuality: Hot
Stroke of Enticement by Nalini Singh is easily the best in the bunch. It takes place within the author’s mythology of psys and changelings (and this is my first exposure to it), but Ms. Singh does a wonderful job of setting her story within her world and…well, getting around to telling an actual story. The author wisely keeps it simple telling the story of a meeting and romance between a teacher and a changeling panther. The characters seem real, the mythology isn’t overly burdensome, and the sex is hot. Altogether a winner for me. Grade: A-

Witch Romance
Sensuality: Hot
Erin McCarthy’s Christmas Bree not so much. This story of three witchy sisters and their witchy cat felt cutesy – and I’m not big into cutesy. Bree’s psychic sister predicts that a man in a pink shirt will suddenly appear wanting to have sex with her, something our Goth-y heroine finds incredible. Still, she’s been having weird dreams – and it turns out Mr. Pink Shirt has, too. Three guesses what happens? This story felt predictable and charmless. Grade: C-

Shapeshifter Romance
Sensuality: Subtle
Things pick back up again in Linda Winstead Jones' Sweet Dreams. Ruby lives on a nice suburban cul de sac with equally nice neighbors. At a neighborhood Christmas party, she meets a hunky professor who’s new to the neighborhood. Of course, he’s a man with a mission and his current task is to protect Ruby from the demon cat god for whom she’s been marked for sacrifice. Things move along at a nice pace and I found both characters appealing. All in all, this is an entertaining but not fabulous story that is, for the record, markedly less sensual than others in this anthology.

Grade: B-

Science Fiction Romance
Sensuality: Hot
Confession time: I haven’t read any books by Lora Leigh before and that was a problem with Christmas Heat. A big problem, as a matter of fact. Here’s why: The author’s mythology is complicated and she spends so much time of her precious word count trying to give readers the short course on the ends and outs of her Breeds and the war in which they’re engaged, that the story she’s telling got lost. Make that totally lost. For those who are familiar with the series, this story of a human and a security enforcer type might well work better than it did for me. I can only grade on my experience, however, and that was less than satisfactory. Grade: C-

Bottom line for me? I think it's time I check out Nalini Singh. I've obviously been missing out.

-- Sandy Coleman

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