I finished the third book in the giant telepathic cat trilogy. The story was good – I wanted to read it, I wanted to find out what happens next – but the love story was TERRIBLE. It’s so bad I have to tell you about it. Spoilers for the series follow, although I doubt any of you are going to read these books.
In the first book, the love story is not offensive. In fact, it’s barely there, for very good reasons, and I remember specifically appreciating that as the story moved along. Our main character, Doyce (oh, the names, but that’s a separate issue), is in her mid to late 30s, engaged to a guy who gets murdered right at the beginning of the story. Tragic to begin with, but doubly so for her because 10 years earlier, she lost her first husband and baby girl in a house fire. She spends the entire book grieving while searching for her fiance’s murderer, questioning whether she deserves love and happiness at all since she seems to be destined to lose it, and she certainly appears to be in no hurry to look for it again. TOTALLY REASONABLE. No complaints here.
Maybe I should point out that Doyce is not a giant telepathic cat. The main characters are humans, many of whom have giant telepathic cats as companions. Anyway.
While searching for the person who murdered her fiance, Doyce is joined by this very handsome, super arrogant dude named Jenret who is sort of a co-worker, so they sort of know each other. Does he like her? Of course not! Everyone is beneath him! Does she like him? Not at all! Plus, grieving, doesn’t deserve happiness, not even thinking about romance, etc., for all the good reasons listed above. All good, and the author keeps the (sigh) inevitable romance on a super-low heat back burner. Over time and this quest for the murderer, they learn to appreciate each other and depend on each other and maybe like each other a little, but there is ZERO discussion of it, there are ZERO romantic interludes, and at the end of the book, Doyce defeats the murderer in another super-traumatic event with the support of Jenret and their other companions.
No real love story – hurray! Or if there was meant to be one, which the beginning of book 2 implies, it was so badly done I didn’t notice it.
Doyce is healing. She’s staying at Jenret’s mother’s house, but she’s tormented mentally, she has blocked most of the events of the first book from her memory, and she’s not ready to rejoin the real world. Apparently, Jenret has supported her through all of this turmoil, and they’ve exchanged lovey-dovey words and promises and whatever, but as she comes out of this interlude, she doesn’t remember any of it. She remembers him and everyone else, but whatever feelings she developed for him (that the author completely failed to show the reader), she doesn’t remember and doesn’t feel, and she’s seriously irritated with him every time he invades her personal space. He seems to understand that she doesn’t remember, but he’s hurt by it and he can’t seem to give her room to grow out of it on her own. So maybe this is a deliberate characterization of him being selfish – I can deal with that.
The two of them plus a handful of other people go on another quest. Jenret is being weirdly touchy-feely and possessive (to her point of view), and she keeps pushing him off. Internally, she thinks maybe she likes him, but she needs time (she’s been through A LOT), and she still doesn’t remember him helping her heal after the first book. He agonizes over it. Some other dude they meet is aware of Jenret’s feelings for Doyce, flirts with her a bit to make him jealous (although she doesn’t seem to have a clue that any of this is going on – she’s focused on the mission), and then one night, Jenret gets drunk, declares his love for Doyce and says he has to have her and TRIES TO RAPE HER. Like, no question about it – his pants are off, he has tackled her to the ground, she’s yelling and struggling, and he only doesn’t succeed because his giant telepathic cat claws his naked butt. So thankfully, she is royally pissed, she specifically calls it rape, and he tries to apologize and explain, and she’s having none of it.
At this point in the book, I was shocked. Totally didn’t see that coming, and I was happy they weren’t sugar-coating it, and I was happy Doyce was really, truly angry. So maybe the love story was lackluster because it was never meant to be one. She’s grieving in the first book, he’s a violent selfish prick in the second one – I can get behind this. To continue.
Of course, they’re on a mission, and they have to complete the mission, and he’s ashamed, and she’s mad, and then they’re all escaping and he gets really hurt and while they’re in hiding SHE SLEEPS WITH HIM. !!!! Of her own volition, at her own instigation. Why? I have NO IDEA. There’s no build-up, I don’t see why she would want to have anything to do with him…so I was not thrilled with that decision. After that, he thinks things are great, she says not so fast and continues to hold him at arm’s length, but now he has hope. At the end of the book, she discovers she’s pregnant, and what does she do? SHE ASKS HIM TO MARRY HER. This is not a society that says she has to be married. This is not a society that says she has to keep the baby. SHE DECIDES TO MARRY HER RAPIST. WTF. And that’s how the second book ends.
Months later, Doyce is largely pregnant, Jenret (still arrogant, still immature) is away on a Very Important Mission, she’s angry he isn’t around, he waxes poetic about missing the love of his life, and they still aren’t married. Little spark of hope again: maybe the author is going to have them realize that they shouldn’t be married? NOPE. No mention of the rape, of their history, of their issues. Adventure, adventure, adventure (separate ones this time), and Doyce is saving two kids at the end, and the stress leads her to start labor, and then Jenret appears out of nowhere to be there when she gives birth, and then they get married.
Ugh. Gross. By the rape scene in Book 2, I lost all interest in the “love” story. The only things that kept me going were the giant telepathic cats. Now the trilogy is done, and so am I. There are a couple of companion books, but no. Just…no.