Release Date: July 4th, 2011
More Info: Amazon All Romance
As a mercenary, Kat Darah doesn't have to pass for a normal human. On the edge of the solar system, she's just another biped. Most of the time.
Nearing the end of his military tour, Lt. Christopher Rygard debates the idea of hanging up his uniform for good. Looking for answers at the bottom of a glass of scotch, he meets Kat. One shared night of mutual desire seems harmless. But when their tryst is interrupted by attackers hunting Rygard, Kat must reveal her other form, the predator beneath the human façade.
Together they embark on a dangerous mission—a race against time to meet the enemy's demands, while trying to deny the passion between them. Rygard is faced with a terrible choice in the face of duty: Report the existence of a human turned shape-shifter. Or forget he ever met her.
As I re-read this story in preparation for the review, I shared passages and my thoughts on them on twitter and facebook (Kindle's share feature is AWESOME). As a result, several people are now intrigued and want to read it. :) Additionally, several of us agreed that Kat, the story's main character, is not alone in needing to improve her social skills. :D
This is one snippet that I shared and the resulting conversation:
J *sigh* It's that whole transfiguration thing that stumps me every time.
B Yeah, it's a puzzler alright.
L lol. so whwich book is this Bea. You got me curious now.
B LOL. It's "Hunting Kat" by PJ Schnyder. It's an e-book.
My point is, despite the fact that Kat is a were-panther and despite the science fiction setting, Kat is relatable and sympathetic. That doesn't always happen in urban fantasy or in sci fi. So, for me, that is a major strength of this story.
Kat underwent s series of harsh events three years ago and though she's physically recovered, her emotional recovery has been more difficult. She has learned, for the most part, to cope with what happened but still suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. In an effort to help her with this, Dev, the captain of the mercenary ship she lives and works on, who is also her friend, and Skuld, the ship's engineer, arrange for her to be temporarily stranded on a space station. They've seen how far she has come emotionally and socially, and believe that she is ready for the next step - pleasant, normal interactions with males. I'm sure you see where this is going. Skuld hopes that Kat will get laid and fills Kat's duffle bag with one change of clothes and, to Kat's disgust and chagrin, a veritable rainbow of lacy undergarments.
Before Kat gets social, she meets up with Boggle, a information broker, who was acquainted with Kat years ago, though she doesn't recall it. Their initial meeting is bumpy but Boggle has a backbone and holds his own, which earns Kat's respect. He breaks the news to her that her shipmates and friends have left her on the station and the ship has left. Upset, Kat heads for the space station's bar.
There's a brawl in progress when she arrives; Kat plows through it, determined to have her drink. This captures the attention of Lieutenant Christopher Rygard, of the Terran military. He's there drinking and brooding, not really in the mood for company. He recently broke up with his girl friend and he's having second thoughts about re-enlisting in the military as he has moral problems with recent missions. Kat's fighting prowess, and her determination to reach her scotch, catch his eye and he starts chatting her up.
They hook up and Schnyder does a deft job of portraying the attraction between them, Kat's conflict between desire and fear, and Rygard's attempt to balance his desire and his compassion for her fear. They work past her fear and things go well. I'm dubious about how easily Kat orgasms, it's highly unlikely given her circumstances, but it's a minor quibble.
During the afterglow is when all heck breaks loose. Boggle had sent Kat a gift, which arrived while Kat and Rygard were together in her room. It included a communications jammer, to allow them privacy, and a background check on Rygard. Rygard sees the background check and takes it badly. He assumes that Kat requested it (she didn't) and that she's some sort of gold digger. He gets nasty, saying cruel things to her. I felt that this was a weak point in the story. We know that his last relationship didn't end well, that his ex lied to him and used him, but there simply wasn't enough groundwork laid for his behavior towards Kat to be believable. Additionally, we never get to know Rygard as well as we do Kat, he's less developed. He's likable, when he's not being unneccesarily cruel to Kat, but he could have been fleshed out more.
While Kat is reeling from Rygard's accusations, they are attacked by two humanoids and a jaguar. Kat's nose tells her that all of them are shifters. She shifts to her panther form, surprising Rygard, who was clueless about her dual identity. The strangers accuse Rygard of murder and kidnapping. After a brief battle between the jaguar and Kat , Kat finds herself volunteering to help Rygard rescue the kidnapped cubs and in return, the strangers won't kill him.
The rest of the story revolves around Kat and Rygard's rescue mission, with help from Boggle and her shipmates, who have returned to the space station. I won't say how that turns out but Schnyder is creative; she also has a good eye for details.
By the end of the story Kat and Rygard have resolved their disagreement and are friends again. The story doesn't have a typical HEA, more of what another reviewer called a "Happy For Now". If you like or need an HEA, you won't find it here. However, if Schnyder had gone that route, she would not have been true to the characters or the story. This ending is much more believable than an HEA that would have rung falsely and fit poorly.
"Hunting Kat" is an enjoyable blend of romance, urban fantasy and science fiction. Schnyder knows how to grab and hold the reader's attention. The opening line particularly grabs you:
“Give me back my bra, you little tube rat, or I’ll rip out your spine and steal your soul.”Now, how can you resist?
I received this eARC from NetGalley.