Friday, April 1, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week Part I . . .

Mistletoe Kittens by JoAnn Ferguson, Judith A. Landsdowne and Regina Scott -- Regency romance 

These three novellas by well-known Regency romance authors are set at Christmastime and all feature cats. The first story "Beneath the Kitten Bough" features a tiny little kitten who becomes a pawn in a matchmaking scheme. Recently orphaned, the niece and nephews of Lord Snoclyffe decide they need a wife for their uncle and mother for themselves for Christmas. They have just the lady in mind and hope to lure her to their home by leaving a tiny kitten in a basket on her doorstep. The plan doesn't quite go the way they hoped when the lady's outspoken cousin Rosemary Burton believes it her duty to take Lord Snoclyffe to task for endangering the life of the kitten. When she learns the children acted on their own, she takes pity on the motherless children and shows them the delights of the Christmas season. Her intention is to completely avoid their uncle, who has an alarming tendency to make her feel uncomfortable (in a good way), for she has heard stories of his youthful exploits. Andrew finds the bold redhead refreshing and delightful and falls helplessly in love. He knows she would be a wonderful wife and mistress of his home and he also knows she'd make a good mother for his wards. Rosemary isn't so convinced that His Lordship's intentions are honorable. It's up to Cutie Pie the kitten with some help from her spirited two-legged friends to help the adults find their way to the kissing bough. This is my favorite story of the three. It was well-paced and the characters had good chemistry without being overblown. The pacing of the story works well for a novella and the ending is very sweet. 

The second story, "The Christmas Kitten" features a beautiful lady and a sleek, dark-haired handsome stranger, both of whom happen to be cats. Lady Ellena is a purebred house cat who is devoted to her owner. Rowdy is a mischievous stable cat who is determined to make his way to the most beautiful lady he has ever seen. Lady Ellena's owner, Camelia Dunsbury is set to marry the oh-so-proper Lord Cottsworth, a match that was made when the pair were children. Camelia has never thought about not doing what her father asks, which includes keeping her cat a virtual prisoner in her bedroom and marrying Daniel. As Rowdy and Lady Ellena become more determined to meet, they help Camelia and Daniel become better acquainted with their inner cat. This is a weird story because of the four points of view. Camelia and Daniel are largely unrealistic and uninteresting. Their transformation is quick and unusual and it doesn't make a lot of sense. The story contains a lot of sensual imagery, but mostly from the point of view of the cats. It's a nice, light read though and not terrible.

Regina Scott's "A Place by the Fire" tells the story of Eleanor "Norrie" Pritchet, a poor spinster teacher at a school for young ladies. Years ago she had tutored the handsome younger son of the school's benefactors and fallen madly in love with the scholarly young man. Then Lord Wenworth reminded Norrie of her place in society and sent her back to the school. Norrie has continued to love Justinian, but feels that he must not have loved her enough to defy his family to be with her. She's resigned to teaching and truly cares for her students, especially Justinian's recently orphaned niece. When Dottie defies the headmistress to bring a cat to the school, Norrie takes the blame for the child's misbehavior and finds herself turned out. She decides to seek a home for the cat with Justinian, who is now the Earl of Wenworth. She arrives wet, cold, and sneezing on his doorstep and he offers shelter to the woman he believes is merely his niece's favorite teacher. Norrie finds herself still attracted to Justinian and plans to leave in the morning, but the kitten and the Dowager Countess have other ideas. Justinian Darby, Earl of Wenworth fell in love with the beautiful Norrie when she came to tutor him, but his father claimed Norrie was a fortune hunter and embarrassed by Justinian's poetic offerings. He wonders whether this bedraggled woman on his doorstep is the same Norrie he once loved and if so, why she isn't telling him the truth. He wonders if love can overcome all obstacles in time for a Christmas miracle. This is not Regina's best story. I wanted to know who Norrie from The Incomparable Miss Compton was so I picked up this book. The cat doesn't play as large a role as in the previous two stories but is still a catalyst for the romance. The length of the novella isn't right for the plot which would work better as a longer story that starts at the beginning of the relationship. There were too many misunderstandings that made the plot tedious and the characters annoying. It's a nice, light read for cat lovers and fans of her other books.

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