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Monday, March 03, 2008

TBR Challenge for January

The TBR Challenge for January is to read a book that has an animal in the title.

Examples from my shelves:
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

I chose:

****½ The Cat and the Jack of Spades by Carole Nelson Douglas. Romantic suspense.

This is the ... argh. It's the fourth of the reprinted initial Midnight Louie quartet. I'm not sure why I thought it was the third. I have all of them, but this was the hardest to find (yes, I've learned my lesson: when there's a limited edition, buy it immediately). The Cat and the Queen of Hearts, the second book, is still in my TBR pile. Ah, well. I'd already read all four stories in their much-abbreviated versions in Crystal Days and Crystal Nights, and while these versions are much superior, at least I wasn't lost.

Gayle Tyson from Kansas is visiting Las Vegas, where she's captivated by baccarat dealer Solitaire Smith. She spends several days watching him from her perch at the slots, until on her last day, he ends up rescuing her from a drunk and they finally meet. They spend a steamy evening together, and she goes back to Kansas... only to return immediately, having quit her job, deciding to follow her heart for a change.

Solitaire, however, isn't called "solitaire" for nothing--he's eschewed connections of any sort ever since he became the target of a gang of killers years before. He tries to avoid Gayle as well, but can't, and now the killers have caught up with both of them.

The Cat and the Jack of Spades is a wonderfully twisty story. Every time I thought I knew where it was going, every time I thought it would follow well-known story paths, it confounded my expectations. Chief among these is Gayle's assertion that she's fallen in love with Solitaire at first sight.

The only time I'll buy love at first sight in a story is if there's some magical reason for it. Otherwise, I think it's lust. Lust can, of course, develop into love, which is what I believe accounts for real life HEAs that started out as "love at first sight," but Gayle knew nothing about Solitaire other than what she saw from a distance. So I was prepared to be a little skeptical. I needn't have worried--Solitaire was skeptical enough for both of us, and--better yet--Gayle admits he's right.

That scene sold me on the story completely. Gayle was revealed as, not an airhead who threw away a career and a decent life on a baseless romantic dream, but as an adventurous woman who used that attraction as the catalyst to quit a dead-end job and live her life to the fullest.

Solitaire's opening up to love, their adventure in escaping the killers, and the lovely twist when we find out why the killers are after him, with Midnight Louie lending a paw, are all just as fun, exciting, believable, and compelling as that scene.

If you want to participate, let us know what you read, how it fit the challenge, how you liked it, and how long it had been in your TBR pile.

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These are GREAT. I don't think I could do this. I'd freeze up.
Fabulous job.
Ah, good theme. In this case I pick Chimera (John Barth), which I'll cheat on a little by noting that I've already gotten through a third of the book (interesting so far -- it's three books told from the perspectives of Scheherezade's (sp?) sister, Perseus, and Bellereophon). As far as how long it's been in the pile ... probably at least ten years.
Ooh, Chimera sounds very interesting. I think I'll put it on my to-look-for list.

LOL, Jennifer! I freeze up when I confront the vastness of my TBR pile, so I use silly little things like this to keep me out of reading ruts.
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