Signet, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-451-23072-0
Fantasy Romance, 2010
Cupid Cats is a pretty bizarre anthology because all three stories have nothing in common. Saying that they all have cats is not fully accurate because we aren’t talking about the same kind of cats, as you shall soon see. It is as if the names of these three authors were picked from a hat and they were then asked to write three stories based on the vaguest of premises: “Write something with cats and be as average as you can be!”
Katie MacAlister kicks off the show with Unleashed and… well, it’s Katie MacAlister we are talking about here. She doesn’t write just comedies, she writes “Hur, hur, hur, snort!” comedies, the kind of jokes that you’ll find scrawled at the bottom of the barrel. In this one, we have Avery, a Dark One vampire who is cursed into being a jaguar. He is rescued and sent to the Cupid Cats Shelter, where he is found by our heroine Jacintha, an officer at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. These two wouldn’t be so bad, but the author, realizing that her story isn’t stupid enough to meet her personal standards of quality, includes Cora, Jas’s sister. Cora is that unfunny sitcom character who just won’t quit. Thanks to her, this is exactly the kind of stories that the fans of this author adore while I can only make the sign of the cross and sigh in relief when the story is finally over.
Connie Brockway’s Cat Scratch Fever also features Cupid Cats Shelter, but this shelter has little in common with the shelter in the previous story. Widower Jim Curran takes his daughter Chloe to the shelter to get a pet, and Chloe is drawn to a cat which she believes to be her mother’s. Jim would rather that they get a kitten instead of a cat which looks like she’d not make it past next summer, but Chloe is adamant on taking Pixie home. Jim perks up when he realizes that the Director of the shelter is Dr Edith Handelman, also his co-worker at Global Gen.
This could have been a decent story except that I get very irritated fast at Edith trying so hard to play the martyr. She’s a stereotypical geek – she is so ridiculously awkward and inept around people that she’s almost like a cartoon character. Then there is Melissa, Jim’s creepy overly controlling sister who succeeds in running off Edith because Edith is such a little martyr who can’t stand up for herself. It doesn’t bode well for the happy ending that Edith comes off like an older version of Chloe, one who needs tending to and comforting every time the going gets tough because her brain is apparently too smart for common sense.
Vicki Lewis Thompson closes the show with A Cat’s Game. We also have Cupid Cats Shelter, but this one is once again a different shelter from the shelters in the previous two stories. This version of the shelter is run by a creepy woman who asks in a mumbo-jumbo New Age charlatan manner to her visitors whether they are looking for love. No, she’s not offering her love – that would be too creepy even by the standards of bad romance novel clichés.
In this one, we have childhood sweethearts Kate Archer and Jon Ramsey reuniting when our movie star hero drops in at the B&B Kate manages in the absence of the actual owner. Kate is also looking for a cat, hence her visit to the shelter.
At any rate, this one is a standard “Me, woman, so me… stupid!” story where Kate throws a fuss, shrieks, and wails over the fact that Jon is a movie star and therefore, he is not the right one for her because her own parents were movie stars who divorced in a public and very bitter manner. But she has naturally no problems putting out to him. Kate is practically playing hard to get here. Poor Jon. There is no saving any man once he’d fallen victim to the hoochie of a romance heroine, so he has to be very patient to prove himself to a silly hen-brained woman who can’t make up her mind what she wants from him.
Cupid Cats is an average anthology offering stories that, while giving new readers a pretty good idea of what to expect from these author’s full-length stories, are just very pale shadows of these author’s better works. I’d recommend this one only to collectors of these authors’ works. The stories are too forgettable and average to be worth the $7.99 cover price.