Touch Not The Cat
Touch Not the Cat has an intriguing premise. Centuries ago, the MacClelland clan murdered several members of the the McQuade clan. The McQuades put a curse on the MacClellands, which causes the MacClelland women to turn into grimalkins (giant cats) during the full moon, or whenever they are under the influence of strong emotions. The curse will not be lifted until a MacClelland and a McQuade fall in love.
Catherine MacClelland is a beautiful woman. She and her father are in England and at a party they meet Nicholas, Duke of Effington. Before Catherine knows what has happened, her father has blackmailed Nicholas into marrying her. Catherine’s father knows that Nicholas is not the son of the old Duke. His natural father was Robert McQuade, and Catherine’s father hopes that she and Nicholas will fall in love and the curse on the family will be lifted.
Catherine and Nicholas enter the marriage with deep reluctance on both sides. Nicholas had been engaged to a woman named Clarissa, and had not wanted to break his engagement. As for Catherine, there’s always the shadow of the grimalkin standing between her and Nicholas. Catherine fears to consummate the marriage, because she knows she will transform into the grimalkin under the power of sexual arousal. Nicholas is not to be put off for long, and the scene where she transforms – literally in his arms – is frightening.
Things begin to get complicated when Nicholas’s ex-fiancée Clarissa shows up at his home. She is now married to Nicholas’s cousin Harry, who has heard of the legend of a giant cat and wants to see if it is true. Clarissa, for her part, has the seduction of Nicholas on her mind.
Touch Not the Cat was marred by a bad case of overwriting. The characters do not talk, they declaim. They do not move, they posture and pose. As for the prose, it goes beyond purple into the realm of ultra-violet! I liked the premise and the larger-than-life characters, if only the writing had been a little less florid, it would have been a better book.