Cat O' Nine Tails by Patricia Leever
Historical Romance, 206 pages
August 30th 2011 from Omnific Publishing
I really wasn't sure what I was going to get with this book, or whether I should even accept a copy; I had been in this crazy-busy mode and probably shouldn't have been accepting anything, on top of which I normally shy away from lesser known, wildcard publishers. But for whatever reason, something about this grabbed me (pirates! pretty!) and I caved. And though there were certainly times I regretted that, I ended up glad I did.
But it's strange.
I felt like I'd started the story in the middle. The romance was SO immediate and completely head-over, and I just couldn't see where it was coming from. It was worse than the insta-love you get in most YA PNR or adult bodice ripper, which is saying something. It felt really silly, and baseless even though I think Leever did try to make it romantic and steamy and lovey. But it so very desperately needed more build up, more connections and history and smoldering. Orrin and Aeron (don't get me started on that little bit of tongue-twisting confusion) are in love within a day, and it seems it was based on the idea of each other - and compatible insatiable sexual appetites, of course. This is something that always irritates me without fail, but it wasn't just the insta-love that made it feel as if the first 1/2 of my book had just somehow fell out before I got a chance to read it. I'm all for plunging the reader in and avoiding info-dumping, but you've still got to give a full story. And when the book is only 200 pages, there's really no excuse not to flesh it out a bit.
All of that, and some copious amounts of the eye-rolling that comes with insta-love, had me wanting and intending to put the book down pretty early on. But it's so short and such a quick read that I would tell myself, "I'll give it X more pages and then I'm done." Only I wouldn't be. Despite the eye-rollingness, there's something about this that is just compulsively readable. Eventually the urge to put it down just went away, and though the eye-rolling never completely stopped (thanks, Kale!), I couldn't help but just give in and enjoy the damn thing.
And it was a good thing, because it did have some unexpected plot points to it that balanced or even outweighed the twoowuv4eva. I mean, it had some plot holes, too, and some things that Analytical-Misty would love to question - but in a book like this (historical pirate romance for godssake), you just have to let some things go. The thing is, Analytical-Misty can be silenced. Sometimes you just have to turn off that part of you and enjoy something just for the hell of it. And it's a good pirate story, for those who like that sort of thing. There needed to be a better sense of time and timing in more than just the romance (how fast does one really travel by seas?), but when I just let go of that part that keeps saying "But wait - but what about - well, how could -" then it's just a fun book with characters I kinda wanted to hate but just couldn't.
One of the things I liked best (and worst, at the same time) was one of the surprising bits that made me glad I'd hung on - I loved how Queen Winifred was worked into the story. Granted, she was a bit over the top for my liking. Okay "a bit over the top" is the understatement of the year, however, she was reminiscent of Elizabeth Bathory, who was a real over the top whackjob, so it sort of worked. It's really interesting and rare to have a female villain, especially one with her...proclivities, and that made it so much more dark and enjoyable and unexpected. Despite any early hesitancy on my part, the Big Pirate Fight at the end coupled with Crazy Queen W. made the 200 pages worth it. And, you know, the healthy dose of smut.
All in all, a quick, fun read for fans of the genre.