Nobody Does it Better

 
The Cat's Fancy by Julie Kenner
(Love Spell, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52397-3
***
Being a cat lover, I positively purred when I found out that I would be reviewing Julie Kenner's The Cat's Fancy, a story that gives a different twist to Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid. Here our heroine, instead of changing from a mermaid to a princess, transforms from a cat into a vibrant young woman, willing to give her all for love.

Maggie the cat has loved Nicholas Goodman, her owner, for all of her first life. She pleads her case to become human to Old Tom, the one-eyed magical cat, who agrees to change her into a human, but with stipulations. During the day she'll still be a cat, but during the night she'll transform into her newly acquired human shape. She'll have one week, until all Hallow's Eve, to convince Nicholas that he loves her. Maggie is forbidden to reveal her secret to Nicholas and knows that he'll have to declare his love of his own free will . . . with no magical interference.

Nicholas Goodman is on the fast track to partnership with his law firm. He's also engaged to the daughter of the firm's biggest client. Nick knows his marriage to Angela, the Ice Queen, is more of a merger than a marriage, but he's satisfied . . . until he opens his front door and finds a woman with short, black hair, brilliant green eyes and wearing absolutely nothing . . . well, wearing an impish grin.

The story progresses on several plot lines as it heads to its appealing conclusion. The main plot line involves Maggie and Nick. Nick is immediately attracted to Maggie, but never forgets that he's engaged. Maintaining his honor has never been more difficult. Maggie is sexy, intriguing and is more than willing to go to bed with him. Another plot line involves a company that the Ice Queen's dad wants to acquire, using any means necessary. Whoever finalizes the deal will be a shoo-in for partner. My favorite plot line involves Deena, Nick's sister and Hoop, his best friend. These two have known each other for years and are finally becoming aware of each other. Deena and Hoop are written with a light touch and add a nice comedic touch.

Fantasy needs to be mixed with a dollop of realism. The Cat's Fancy, for all of its charms, has too many incidents that stretch credulity paper-thin. It is hard to accept that, in one week's time, Nick is supposed to fall for a woman who appears out of nowhere, wearing a smile and nothing else. Hey, this is Los Angeles. Would you let a naked person in your house? Add to that the fact that Maggie as a human disappears during daylight hours, claims to have amnesia to account for her lack of a past and implausibly lands a plum television job, even though her command of the English language is somewhat limited. All of these were just too, too much.

Now let's add Nick's fiancée to the equation. Why does the other woman frequently have to be hateful and bitter, often without feelings or honor? When Nick gives Angela a costume jewelry bracelet that had belonged to his mother, Angela gives it back, her nose wrinkling.

"I prefer my jewelry to be real. Not worthless pieces of tin and glass. Maybe this weekend we can go shopping for a tennis bracelet."

Not only is this an example of Angela's callous behavior toward Nick, conduct that diminishes her, but what kind of ‘hero' becomes involved with an unfeeling, insufferable woman? Angela makes fun of Nick's sister, his cat, his Sunday slouchy clothes and admits that she doesn't love him!

Nick and Maggie appear to have nothing in common other than lust. Neither character is fleshed out or three-dimensional. It's hard to empathize with flat characters. Deena and Hoop have a more convincing relationship than Nick and Maggie.

I had high hopes for The Cat's Fancy. The cover is worth a second, third and fourth glance. Perhaps basic animal magnetism as a drawing card works for some, but I need more human, heartfelt emotions. And while the end has some fun twists, it doesn't make up for a lackluster relationship.

--Linda Mowery


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