by Anne Cain, paranormal (2007)
Loose Id, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-576-0
Pawprints sees Anne Cain striking out on her own after being more well-known for her collaborations with Barbara Sheridan and her art. This one is a gay romance featuring our hero and a shapeshifting cat he picked up at the animal shelter.
Adrian Ferrer is a veterinary student who volunteers at the local animal shelter. He does his thing as usual until one day he comes across a lovely cat. He thinks the cat isn't a biter. Make your own "pillow biter" joke here. The cat likes him, so much so that when Adrian transfers the cat into the shelter office, the cat shifts into human form for some muah-muah-muah's. Lal, our cat, turns out to be a creature from a much different world than Adrian's, a world where the concept of ownership of cats take on a more surreal meaning. Adrian soon finds himself tangled up with the relationship between Lal and his brothers with their Master. If he wants to keep Lal, heh, he'll need to convince the Master to pass over Lal to him.
The setting is easily the most interesting aspect of the story and I believe I won't be against learning more about it. However, Lal and Adrian don't really have much depth to their personalities. They are pretty much recognizable standard yaoi stereotypes, with Adrian being the lovelorn nerdy guy who finds a magical hot sex toy that will cater to his every whim and with Lal having little personality other than an ever-present readiness to get down and party with Adrian. Anyone who follows formulaic Japanese romantic cartoons, either mainstream or adult ones, will recognize at once what kind of archetypes Adrian and Lal take after.
Pawprints is a readable story. Ms Cain's writing has definitely matured from those early days of embarrassingly over-the-top mawkish prose and even more over-the-top nelly crybaby behavior from one of the heroes who pretty much spends nearly all his time in an unwashed kimono and on his back on the floor, either crying for real or crying for sex. Still, I wish the author has done a little bit more to give the characters more depth. In its current form, this one is sweet and fluffy, yet also rather forgettable at the end of the day.
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