Love and Other Perils
Love and Other Perils is a light-hearted pair of romances that will especially appeal to cat lovers. These novellas also make a good introduction to the work of the authors, if you’re not already familiar with them.
Lieutenant Mayhew’s Catastrophes by Emily Larkin
Sensuality Rating: Warm
Miss Wilhelmina (Willie) Culpepper is on a stagecoach, making a long journey to Southampton to meet an employer. Lieutenant Mayhew boards the same stagecoach carrying a basket with two kittens inside, a gift for his sister’s children. When he opens the basket to give a curious child a peek, Willie is charmed, and he later acts as a buffer between her and a drunken fellow traveler.
They talk along the way and discover they have quite a lot in common, since she’s the daughter of a soldier and enjoyed the adventure of that life. But when they stop to stretch their legs and the kittens escape, they’re in for an adventure of a different kind when the stagecoach leaves without them. So Willie and Lieutenant Mayhew follow, kittens in hand. And as they deal with obstacles such as muddy fields and bad weather, they find they like each other more and more.
If you like road trip romances set in the Regency era, you’ll probably enjoy this. The setting and atmosphere ring very true, and so do the characters. At one point, the lieutenant asks Willie if he can write to her, and it’s clear that this is quite an intimate step in their relationship. The only problem is the complete lack of problems. Willie and the lieutenant (I keep calling him that because his name is William) get along perfectly. Many novellas can seem rushed, but because this one featured a couple who will never disagree about anything, it actually felt longer than it should be. There’s enough to like about it, but I have to qualify the recommendation.
Kisses and Catnip by Grace Burrowes
Sensuality Rating: Warm
There are mice in the library. Antonia Mainwaring, the librarian, hasn’t seen any, but Max Haddonfield points out droppings and offers a way to combat the uninvited visitors – a cat called Lucifer. Antonia accepts, and soon she’s fascinated by the unusual Mr. Haddonfield, who finds good homes for cats, smells like freshly baked bread, and is as intelligent as he is kind.
I won’t mention any more of the plot, because that would ruin the fun of discovery, but it was surprisingly twisty for a novella. A bit too much so, actually. I would have preferred a tad less external complexity so Max and Antonia’s relationship could have been developed even more, because they’re great characters. A bluestocking no longer as young as she used to be, Antonia is being courted by a man who’s wrong for her, while Max (who’s conducting experiments with yeast, hence his delicious scent) also receives a proposal regarding a lady in difficult straits.
I liked these two together, and I especially appreciated their maturity – they were well aware, for instance, of the link between sex and conception, and took that into consideration. Just as refreshing was Dagger, a street urchin who’s a helper in Max’s experiments and co-caretaker for the cats. He’s his own person rather than a plot device to bring the hero and heroine together (he’s got way more things to do). He has habits learned from both his world and Max’s, which don’t mesh well, and he’s just plain realistic for a boy his age. That’s why he gets almost a paragraph of my going on about how well he’s written.
Worth checking out if you’re looking for good historical romances, and definitely worth it for the Grace Burrowes novella, Love and Other Perils is a recommended read. Even if you don’t like cats.