Cat’s Lair – a review

I read Cat’s Lair, by Christine Feehan a couple of weeks ago and can’t believe that I didn’t write a review yet. I actually thought I had but when I was going through the blog, it wasn’t there. Maybe I had started a draft? I *could* go look, but that might require effort and I think it would just be easier to start over with a new post right here. So here is my review of Cat’s Lair.

This is the 7th installment in the Leopard People series by Christine Feehan. Christine writes four amazingly deep series, but I must confess, the Leopards have always been my least favourite. I still read them though, because Feehan used to release a book every three months from her series on rotation, and to go six months without a new book from my then-fave author because I didn’t like the Leopards just didn’t work. I had to read it anyway. And I’m glad that I stuck with it because she finally found her stride and the last three have been great.

Here is the teaser from the cover, courtesy of Goodreads…

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leopard’s Prey returns to the feral underworld of her astonishing Leopard novels in an arousing new romance of forbidden animal instincts…

Cat Benoit has finally escaped the past—and the man who was the source of her nightmares. She’s off the grid, underground but watchful, and creating a new life for herself in Texas, far from the torrid dangers of her native New Orleans. She’s safe. He’ll never find her this time. Cat has to believe that. It’s the only thing keeping her sane.

Yet she can’t escape the attention of Ridley Cromer, the instructor at the martial arts dojo where Cat takes lessons. She arouses the animal in Ridley—and something feral comes to life when their body heat rises. Cat is in no position to let her guard down with anyone, especially someone who could be endangered by her past. But Ridley has secrets of his own—secrets only Cat would understand. If she dares to trust him.

I loved Cat’s Lair. It’s in serious competition with #5 Savage Nature as the best in the series, but I can’t quite bring myself to declare a winner when I haven’t read Savage Nature in over a year.
cats lair    savage

There are a ton of things that I loved in this book, but I’ll limit myself to a few big points. Cat’s Lair takes a complete left-turn about 20% of the way through, and this was a plot twist I did not see coming. You can tell me I’m naive if you called it, that’s alright, but I always see these things way ahead and this one caught me by surprise! That was actually really exciting.

I also loved how it led to two very intense scenes between Ridley and Catriona, the ones that occur before they arrive at his ranch. Can’t say more than that without posting spoilers, but what happened between the characters rarely occurs in a CF book – to that serious of a degree at least – and to my recollection, has never occurred in the Leopard series before. Grr, I wish I could say more but I don’t want spoilers to scare readers off the rest of this post. Suffice it to say, I’m highly encouraging you to read this book.

One of the great things about Feehan’s series is that each book can really be read as a stand-alone, so if you have not read the entire series but this review has piqued your interest, go ahead and read it. There aren’t any over-arching plot twists in this series that would ruin previous books, and you will still be able to understand everything that happens. It’s actually the safest of her series in that regard.

The cover blurb doesn’t name him, but the terrible past Cat is running from is Rafe, a rogue leopard, who ‘acquires’ her shortly after her eleventh birthday. Rafe is definitely a bad guy and he isn’t going to pop up with a happily ever after five books down the line, but I still felt sympathy for him. More so for him than for Ridley to be honest. Even though his character has made the wrong choice at every fork, he isn’t wholly evil as Christine’s antagonists usually are. Throughout the story, I was sad and couldn’t help but feel that if he had had a better start in life, a role model like Drake or Ridley to teach him to control his leopard or if he could have opened up and been brave enough to accept the love Catriona offered him, both as a child and as an adult, he had the potential to become a good man. I wanted him to be better and my heart broke for Cat that she wasn’t enough. You could tell that Rafe did fight for her though. Maybe he didn’t end up winning against his lessor character traits, but you can’t say he didn’t care. There was one soft moment between them after he reined in his leopard, that tugged at my tender heart strings.

This book marks a huge step up in the author’s writing in my opinion; dramatic and compelling without being trite or unbelievable (apart from the whole shapeshifters living among us thing, but I’ll give her that one), complex characters, secondary characters who can stand on their own without cluttering the story, a plot-twist early on that I didn’t foresee and an antagonist I actually cheered for – at least so far as to champion his turnaround and hope he would get his life together. Christine also kicked up the heat in this book. There were some eyebrow-raising, kinda sorta dominant-submissiveness happening between Ridley and Cat. All the male heroes are Alphas with a capital A in her novels, but this one was the first that made me think “hey, that’s a bdsm relationship”, even though she doesn’t come out and say it. I like the evolution.

As fans of her website know, Feehan has joined a new writer’s group in the last couple of years and started churning out books. At last update, I think she was something crazy like three books ahead of her publisher’s schedule, so they announced they are moving a book up. The next Leopard installment will be at the end of  November 2015 instead of next year. The cover photo and blurb have already been released so I am throwing them in here. I hate the cover photo btw, but I am very excited to finally get Elijah’s book! We see him in a couple of previous books, including Cat’s Lair, and he has me more interested than other secondary characters at the mo’.

wild cat

Wild Cat

In the new Leopard novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Cat’s Lair and Leopard’s Prey, passions explode like wildfire when a young woman’s feral instincts are ignited by a man who’s too dangerous not to desire…

A simple request for Siena Arnotto: deliver a gift to her grandfather’s friend. One look at Elijah Lospostos, hard-bodied and stripped to the waist, and Siena succumbs to a feline stirring she never felt before, and to Elijah’s reckless and pleasurable demands. But when that pulse-throbbing moment ends in the murder of an unexpected intruder, Elijah accuses the shaken and confused Siena of setting him up.

Then Siena discovers the truth of her Leopard heritage, of the secrets in her grandfather’s inner circle, and the sinister plot of revenge that has put her in jeopardy. When Siena’s grandfather is assassinated, she realizes the only man she can trust is Elijah. Now as her Leopard rises from within, Siena and Elijah share not only an animal instinct for survival—but a desire so raw and wild it may be the only thing that can save them.

xx

P.S. * * * * * to Cat’s Lair

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A Warm Hug

I’ve touched upon the idea of a “book family” or “book friend” in an earlier blog post, but I want to write about it again. If you’ve never heard of this term, it’s the same idea as having a book boyfriend.

I have to deal with panic attacks so when I need a breather from life I escape into one of my favourite series, like the Shadowlands. It feels comforting and safe, like friends enveloping me in a warm hug, and since the vast majority of romance novels always have a great HEA (happily ever after), I don’t worry when bad things are happening to the characters. Most of the time, these are books that I have read so many times, I can pick it up and flip to any page (or % on kindle) and know which scenes have already happened and where I am in the book.

Right now, the best books for me to go to when my anxiety is too close are the Sea Haven series by Christine Feehan, Shadowlands by Cherise Sinclair, and Exquisite series or Submissive’s Wish series by Ann Mayburn. That last author writes darker material though so I have to be careful which scenes I choose, or I start with one of the other authors and then move on to Ann Mayburn to “ease” myself back into the big, bad world.

So to my favourite authors, thanks for being there for me at times when real-life loved ones can’t. Thank for helping me to relax and turn my day around, maybe get something else done in the day. And if nothing else, it helps me calm down for awhile instead of letting my brain whirl itself into a frenzied and desperate state.

If you have a really feel good romance series that helps you feel better from some type of upset, please share! Always happy to find something new to help and maybe some of mine will work for you as well.

xx

Bad Apples in Online Communities

I don’t usually participate much in online communities, or the comments sections of social media.  It doesn’t appeal to me and isn’t worth the negativity that dominates. Some authors have set up their own online communities on their websites, where they have more control over comments and members, and can more easily do giveaways or post book extras for fans.

One of these authors is Christine Feehan.  I have been reading her books for 15ish years and she is the first author I know of who set up one of these online communities, and has an incredibly large one. Much like facebook, members have their own wall, as do each of the books that she has published or announced, so there is a common space for discussions. She posts the first chapter of upcoming books a couple of months before publication and also posts a book “trailer” shortly after.

I used to be really active on this community, but have barely participated for a few years now. As I ghost around, looking at the bonus material and first chapters, I’ve noticed that the rate of comments seems to be down and other fans have posted about it, positing why. My guess is that a few bad apples have ruined it for everyone.

This is why I would never even dream of hosting such a n interactive feature if I were an author, or any where else on the interwebs. This blog is enough!

On the membership section of http://www.christinefeehan.com there are lots of places to find great comments, like the first chapter before a book is released and the “deleted scenes” that got cut from a book. But the comments sections, and the author’s own page where you can write to her and hope for a response, are a minefield.

Two users, in particular, drive me nuts. One has been banned off and on and never understands why, even though the other users don’t seem to have a problem understanding the rules. She posts the most banal, off-topic, poorly written comments and questions, and has lately, been asking other users if they would read her books that she has written … books that are clearly fanfiction and which are banned from the community.

The other fan is a European woman who must troll the website all day every day. She doesn’t work for the author, that much is clear from their public interactions on the site, but she apparently enjoys taking on the self-appointed task of monitoring every book wall and the author’s wall and posting her comments on your comments and questions. Her posts don’t always make sense, which I could forgive because she clearly states that English is not her first language, except that her comments are not adding anything to the community. She is 90% of the reason I stopped participating and following this author, and I can’t help but wonder if others feel the same.

There is a difference, people, in being helpful and annoying or harassing others online. No one wants to know your opinion on every subject or hear your approval for their opinion. You are not that important. In my most recent example, someone was talking about twins coming along later in the series because in an earlier book, a male character had commented cryptically about having kids “two at a time”. I know a little bit about how twins can be heredity through certain genes because of a discussion I had with a medical professional on the subject, so I posted that; it was actually relevant to the first person’s comment and furthered the discussion on what will (possibly) happen to these characters in upcoming books. But of course Ms Know it all had to chime in with an (in my opinion) unintelligible and annoying response to my comment.

Lesson learned. Re-learned? Don’t bother, it isn’t worth trying to participate in an online community.  I’ll continue to lurk around to read the first chapters in anticipation of new books, but that is it. I may be a millennial, but I will never understand this apparent need my peers feel to be super active online, or the need our parent’s generation seem to feel to control and manipulate every public conversation.

Any one else have a similar experience? Or a really positive one?

xx