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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Outcast by Cheryl Brooks

The Cat Star Chronicles: Outcast by Cheryl Brooks
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy,
Length: Full (344 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by: Xeranthemum

This fourth installment in The Cat Star Chronicles series maintains the qualities of excitement, world-building, sizzling romance, and great imagination that made Slave such a resounding success.

Sold into slavery when his planet was destroyed, Lynx was enslaved in a harem. He is a favorite due to his feline gene, which gives him remarkable sexual powers, but after ten years, Lynx is exhausted.

Thrown out without a penny, Lynx is bitter and anti-female. He emigrates to a new planet but can only find a job with a female rancher.

Bonnie's boyfriend has left with all their money and she needs help with the ranch. Lynx is cynical, but honest, and though he has made it clear that he wants no part of a romantic relationship, Bonnie can't resist him. She finds out about his impotence and becomes determined not to let such a beautiful and sensual young man go to waste...

Outcast is a book that turns a male fantasy into a Twilight Zone moment. You’ve heard the phrase, ‘be careful what you wish for’? Ms. Brooks takes that to a new level and it takes a woman with a courageous heart to undo the damage.

In this latest Cat Star Chronicle, Ms. Brooks switched gears and did not create a totally new world with new aliens; but like a master weaver is picking up threads from her previous world building adventures and interweaving them. In doing this, she has enriched the stage on which her characters perform.

Lynx is the latest Zetithian to be discovered and he’s got a lot of ground to recover. Like many of his brethren, Lynx was sold into slavery. Unlike the others, it was not a violent life, yet the chains and scars are emotional and just as damaging. Lynx is a different kind of tortured hero, one that I’ve never seen before and I give credit to the author for her originality. His slow healing, with him kicking and bucking most of the way, is very much an internal conflict worth a reader’s attention. You initially laugh, thinking it’s no big deal but as you read, you understand so much more because the author really gets into his heart, his despair and his pain. Lynx eventually does what Zetithian men do best and it’s worth the journey. Love that snard!

Bonnie has her own internal conflict going on. She’s a woman who is left to fend for herself. She reminds me of the pioneer women of old - those whose rancher or gold rush fever induced husbands go off and die leaving the women to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world. Bonnie has that spirit, that drive to survive. Unfortunately, it seems to have beaten out the feminine element that wants a hero to come and save her. She’s given up all her yearnings for a man she can actually count on, that is until she hires that ornery Lynx.

There are a lot of interesting secondary characters that Ms. Brooks introduced me to and I really enjoyed them all. They certainly played important roles in various movements of the plot and helped to show case Bonnie’s character. That being said, I have to say that my review of this book will not be as high as the previous books due to character head hopping. I believe all of the scenes were relevant but they were a bit choppy and that is unlike Ms. Brooks’ usual style. I also found the ending to be fulfilling, akin to the foam from a quickly poured glass of root beer. There was so much, it kind of overflowed. It was still sweet and appreciated and quenched the thirst for a very happy ever after which is a big plus for me.

All in all I would definitely recommend reading Outcast to anyone who is into this series. Due to some character references that were specific in nature, I believe new readers to the Cat Star Chronicles would benefit from reading at least two of the previous books before this one. How else can you get the inside jokes? How else can you get the full effect of the joy of meeting other Zetithians and get a feel for why it is so important? Where else can you experience a man who purrs with such orgasmic results? It’s a rich world and Ms. Brooks is making it better and better with each installment. I look forward to more.

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