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Wild Cat by Laura Black
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Wild Cat

by Laura Black

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Poor Catriona has a run of bad luck. Her father is whimsical, fluttering around from idea to idea inventing useless things, wasting their money, and reducing their once affluent and powerful family to rags. Her mother, who is ill and weak since giving birth to Cat, willingly and happily goes along for the ride. They are oblivious, but happy in their ignorance.

But Cat is not. She grew up spoiled and pampered and free, and living like a pauper doesn't suit her. She longs for her parents to be more responsible and mature, but they are set in their ways and are determined to do what makes them happy, oblivious to the world around them. Cat struggles to maintain the household, while all the while grudging her new status.

Enter Alexander, the handsome, fun, smart savior who rescues Cat after an accident, and then proceeds to woo her and her family by visiting, and showering them with gifts, paying off debts, investing in Dad's Next Big Idea, etc. Logically, things come around to love, and Cat agrees to marry Alex.

Enter Sir Richard, the pompous, rich tenant in her father's castle, who had once before offended Cat, to warn her away from her soon-to-be-groom, based on rumors that Alex can be quite vicious when drunk. Cat of course doesn't believe this for a second, and enlists the help of some nearby men to forcibly remove Richard from the area.

Unfortunately, Richard was correct, and after marrying Cat, Alex does a complete 180 and becomes a ruthless, cold-hearted sadist. Cat manages to escape her wedding night in one piece, and then embarks on a very harrowing journey to try to get away from him forever, because she knows that the punishment for her running away will be far worse than anything that she could imagine, and in the eyes of the law and the Church, she is his property and therefore is his to do with as he will. The law is on his side, and she has not a penny to her name.

This was an entertaining adventure, with a little hint of romance. The things that Cat endures are definitely not for the weak, and she is absolutely a survivor. Black does a good job writing the action, at times I was anxiously gnawing on my knuckles waiting to see what would happen, but she left the story a bit too predictable. At one point, there was reference to a certain thing three times in three paragraphs, which is pretty transparent as far as foreshadowing goes. One mention would be good: the reference is there, and we can promptly forget about it until the reveal comes, so then we're like "Ah ha! I see what you did there!". But three references makes me say, "I know where this is going."

I do have to say that a major issue I had with this book was the dialogue. Among the upper class and educated, there was no issue, but among the servants and the "common folk", the dialogue was barely understandable. I literally had to decipher what was being said word by word. Sometimes I could only get it by context or by Cat paraphrasing in her response, but others I was at a complete loss, and never did understand.
It interrupted the flow of the story, and while I get the impression that this was done for a number of reasons (as disguise for Cat, to show the distinction among the classes, and to give the reader an idea of how Scottish people sound) it was incredibly heavy handed and could have been toned down quite a lot and still have been effective.

Interestingly, there was a bit of commentary about homosexuality in the book, which I found odd, as it was likened to leprosy. This may or may not be true, but it baffles my modern sensibilities that people considered homosexuality an "evil disease" that could be spread, and the lengths that they would go through to avoid even seeing someone whom they thought was possibly gay. However, this is an oldish book, which is about a long ago time period. Experiencing intolerance like this in the pages of a book is a good way to remind ourselves how far we've come, and helps to prevent us from backsliding into ignorance and fear.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a lighthearted adventure with a plucky heroine. I liked it quite a lot. :) ( )
  TheBecks | Apr 1, 2013 |
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