So in my quest for reading material, I was pointed to the new “On the Prowl” series at Samhain, and selected, a little randomly, Tiger by the Tail. I asked Kaye Chambers, the author, to tell me about her previous titles. She wrote back: this is her publishing debut. She’d won a contest with another title, but Tiger by the Tail…yada yada. Huh?
All you shapeshifting fans out there–you’re all a bunch of loonies, really. This is about the fourth book of big cat shifting I’ve read, and I’ve mostly not liked them. (I actually spiked Dark Prince of Anfall with some of the loonieness myself.) When I started Kaye’s book, I thought “Oh, no, it’s all this weird big cat claiming choosing mating alpha bitchy stuff with rival clans or whatever you call them.” And that’s true, this book is that stuff. But it’s so much more. Or less. Or all of that stuff boiled into a tight, tight story with classic contemporary romance elements interwoven…
Wait, let me start over. I loved this wonderful, wonderful story. I’ve been such a scaredy cat myself over writing in the first person, but after reading this one, I’m going to try. Because a whole story from one person’s point of view really, really hooks you in, if done well.
Kaye’s voice is so different. I know, we hear that a lot, but it is. From page one “since my first run as a tiger at fourteen…”–I mean, how many people can get away with something like that and have it sound sensible? Kaye’s heroine is Sasha, Tiger Princess and heir not-so-apparent to the big cat throne. Initially reluctant to enter the complex world of big-cat “society” after being ostracized for so long, she eventually takes on her calling in a very plucky style. No one is going to accuse Ms. Chambers of writing a Mary Sue. You will simply love Sasha. You will want to be her.
Kaye carries the story from an intricate Medici-like political world into a very personal contemporary romance of the “Bodyguard” type. Cole is the hero, a wonderful strong fella and fellow tiger. These characters flow together beautifully, both strong, but with neither overbearing.
But wait, there’s more! There are big cat fights (between males), running with the cats (I want to be a tiger for a day–Kaye simply made the whole sensation of being a tiger and moving freely as one so appealing), mating with a cat (sexy and sensual without being in-your-face), and, of course, falling in love. As a human. Simply lovely.
What is this new genre, anyway? Why have we come to accept a story about people who can become big cats, describe their society, and wrap it in a traditional romance? It takes great writing. This is great, smooth, delicious writing. I refuse to believe it’s Kaye’s first published book. Nonsense.
I got to the last page and whined out loud. Where’s the rest? Next installment, please.