by Dara Joy, futuristic (2009)
House Of Sages, $5.85, ISBN 0-9753549-8-1
Dara Joy returns to her world of Familiars with Cat Scratched!, probably hoping that she can somehow regain the huge traction she has lost to authors of more sophisticated paranormal romances that have taken over the landscape while she... er, took care of her personal affairs.
In this one, Gian Ren, the King of All Familiar, has ordered Familiars everywhere to come back to their home planet M'yan for their own safety as some kind of war has broken up and some enemies - rumored to be from Planet Dorchester but don't quote me on that, heh - want the Familiars all eradicated or sold into slavery.
Our hero, Salair Ner, believes that he lives for adventures and he'd like to give the royal edict his middle finger, but his father has ordered him to obey the King so he reluctantly makes his way home when the story opens. But at the last moment, he decides to pay a visit to Planet Teno instead, a non-Alliance planet. Yes, he deliberately steps into hostile territory even when he knows that there is a war on his kind at the moment. Tell me again why I should care if he becomes cat barbecue?
Oh, and he meets his woman, Snowflake, there.
Cat Scratched! is actually a pretty good story if I compare it to the author's previous self-published efforts. This one actually has a decent setting and some flimsy story line that at least... well, at least there is some story line here, let's just say. The story is still too short to be worth $5.85, but it's pure gold compared to the author's previous efforts.
Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that the writing is good. The author abuses the exclamation mark as if the exclamation mark had wronged her badly in the bad. Think of how Jayne Ann Krentz used to write in her early days, when every other sentence ends in an exclamation mark, and you'd have a pretty good idea of what you will find in this one. As for the romance, the author resorts to the tried-and-tested method of "he knows, she knows" bond thing. Who needs actual courtship when everything is determined by fate, hormones, or whatever?
This one comes with some really exasperating DRM, which can be easily stripped, fortunately. Not that I am going to go through that bother, because I doubt I'd be reading this one again after having taken one for the team.
To conclude, Cat Scratched is a vast improvement over some of the author's recent self-published efforts, but it has still a long way to go in matching the quality of her old books with LoveSpell and Avon. Get this one only if you are really in need of some Familiar fix, but even then, lower your expectations, because this one is nowhere as readable as those books you used to enjoy.
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