Wild Cat Cait
This isn’t one of the worst books I have ever read, just one of the most boring. In fact, the way it started out was so odd that I rechecked the cover of the book just to make sure it was supposed to be a romance novel. The story begins with a cowboy racing wildly into town yelling that a cougar has just killed some more livestock.
Ethan Sawyer and Cait Perry (AKA Wild Cat Cait) meet on the trail of the aforementioned cougar. Ethan is the town saddlemaker and “Wild Cat Cait” is a local legend who keeps to herself up at her mountain cabin and spends her time tending to her menagerie of injured and orphaned exotic large cats. Ethan decides to try and bag himself a mountain lion in the hopes that he will be redeemed in the eyes of the townspeople and, subsequently, improve the way his sister and her husband are treated by the townspeople. Am I the only one who thinks this is odd?
The townspeople have shunned Ethan ever since that black day in town history when he committed the unforgivable crime of bringing a woman ill with measles into their midst and exposing innocent, unsuspecting people to a highly contagious disease. Ethan doesn’t mind being ostracized because he keeps busy with his lonely leather business but he hates the grief it has caused his sister and her husband who apparently are guilty by association.
Cait is also looking for the cougar but for different reasons. She thinks it is a cat she nursed back to health several years ago and wants to move it to happier hunting grounds where it will be less tempted by local livestock. When they encounter each other on the trail of the cougar, Cait and Ethan are instantly attracted to each other. Cait, however, feels threatened by her attraction to Ethan and threatens him that his life won’t be worth a plugged nickel if he invades her turf again. Ethan doesn’t take her seriously, however, because Cait intrigues him and he is undeterred by her threats. Ethan and Cait’s courtship is a bit on the uninspiring side and they waste way too much time fighting their feelings although Cait is guiltier of this than Ethan. Heroes and heroines who spend too much time fighting their obvious feelings are a particular pet peeve of mine.
As a mountain man, Ethan proves to be particularly inept and bumbling, unlike Cait who has lived in the mountains for years and is in her element. This role reversal was refreshing, but it was ruined because Ethan found numerous opportunities to tell Cait that she shouldn’t be doing this or that when she had obviously been doing quite well on her own for a long time. This behavior didn’t seem right coming from one of the rare heroes I have come across in western romantic fiction – a man who actually could not control a horse.
An encounter with ruffians, also on the trail of the bad kitty-cat, leaves Cait injured and she is forced to rely on Ethan for care and sustenance. Ethan proves himself a dab hand, not only with the cooking, cleaning and nursing chores, but also with Cait’s assortment of injured and maimed large cats. He takes good care of them while Cait is laid up and they graciously let him into their various enclosures to do so. This, more than anything else, helps Cait see Ethan in a new light and she sets aside her rifle (remember the bit about the plugged nickel). Cait begins to think that, if her cats like this guy, maybe he isn’t so bad after all. Their romance blossoms but they remain on opposing sides of the fence about what should be done with the cougar when, and if, they ever come across it. Since to me, Cait and Ethan’s story lacked depth, conflicts like this one seemed inconsequential.
Ethan and Cait’s story ends happily ever after but this book even further stymied me when the epilogue, usually an enjoyable part of a book, didn’t even have Cait and Ethan in it. The epilogue was about Ethan’s sister and her husband, who are only minor characters in the story.
Wild Cat Cait is a strange story and I could barely find it in myself to squeeze even one drop of enjoyment out of it. A romance between a saddlemaker and a woman who makes her clothes out of animal skins is not exactly my idea of a good story. I will say, however, that the author did appear to know her way around a love scene. Those were the rare times in the story when I could forget how bored I was, and quit counting the pages left in the book.