A MelanieM Review: Best in Show by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.

Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.

Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.

I found Kelly Jensen through her This Time Forever series, each novel built around a family structure, be it decades old home or lodge in the Catskills.  I love those stories so when Best in Show popped up as a discounted read I grabbed it.

Totally different in theme and characters, I found it to be a bit of a mixed bag narratively speaking.  I thought the idea was very cute and had a lot of promise.  In fact, some of the promise was delivered in the comedic elements within the story.

The reason that cat shifter Macavity Birch has been cursed is totally due to his lack of judgement, inability to grow up, and yes, warped sense of humor.  He entered himself into a cat show (with his cousin as his handler) and left with all the awards! Best in Show indeed!  The fact that it drew unusual attention to an “unknown entry” who blew everyone who had practiced and worked so hard for those awards out of the water?  Hmmm, he didn’t think of that.  Nor the risks of exposing his family of witches and shifters to the world . A definite no no. So boom cursed, picked as a stray and brought into the local shelter.

Add to that Julian Wilkes, mystery writer, and  potential shut-in. Bullied by his sister into adopting a dog as a companion, he ends up with a cat that acts strangely.

The main issue with is with the characters themselves.  Macavity has a major case of arrested development.  He never thinks about the consequences of his actions.  He acts and leaves, often with a mess behind him.  You totally buy that about this character so any change and what that might mean for him is harder to accept.  It also makes the ending seem unrealistic, honestly.Julian Wilkes shows the most growth in his willingness to not only accept a cat into his life, but to come to care about it as well as the man he meets at the same time.  Julian shows strength of character whether facing down his sister or Mac’s relatives, or the loss of his dream.  I felt that loss for him as well.

I did like the fact the Jensen threw in the idea of what happens to Mac’s “equipment” to keep it safe since most shelters are spay/neuter.  Here she answers that question.  Magically of course!

I think that perhaps Best in Show had so much potential in its characters and theme but for me it came up short.  I felt there wasn’t enough time to develop a realistic relationship for Mac and Julian to have a solid foundation to go forward on and too many other things are left unanswered.  But the idea of a cat shifter entering himself in a cat show and the sheer joy of winning event after event?  Hilarious. I wish we  would have had a scene or two of that!

Cover art:  Alexandria Corza.  That’s an adorable cover, complete with Julian and Mac.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 87 pages
Published July 27th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774760 (ISBN13: 9781634774765)
Edition LanguageEnglish
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Barb, A Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Best in Show by Kelly Jensen

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Best In ShowJulian Wilkes has been keeping to himself for over a year—ever since he walked in on his lover with another man. Distraught and self-flagellating for missing the signs that his lover had been having outside affairs for quite a while, Julian suffers from writer’s block—not good for any author—and is hiding away in his hometown. His sister is his only friend, and she spends most of her time berating him for wallowing in self-pity.

Finally convincing him to get a companion dog, she literally drags him to Lingwood Animal Rescue where, instead of a dog, a large caramel-striped tabby cat named Marmalade gives him the eye and entices him to bring the big guy home. Little does he know, however, Marmalade is really Macavity Birch, direct descendent of the witches for whom the town is named. The current witch-in-residence, Mac’s Aunt Clare, has cast a spell on him, making the shifter unable to switch to his human form except at night.

Needless to say, human Mac is discovered, and Julian is not only shocked but also gets caught up in the family mystery when he reveals he’s recently obtained a journal written by Madeline Lingwood, who is Aunt Clare’s sister and the witch who gave this town its reputation. What will happen when Aunt Clare finds out Julian has the journal? And even more, what will it be like to spend his whole life as a cat, or worse yet, as a mouse?

This was a light-hearted sweet romance with both a geeky glasses-wearing MC and a hot redhead tabby cat shifter. Need I say more? Though short, the author did a great job building endearing characters, adding humor and wit to the story, and making this reader want a whole lot more of Julian, Mac, and the Lingwood witches. 

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza.  Adorable.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 87 pages
Expected publication: July 27th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634774760 (ISBN13: 9781634774765)
Edition LanguageEnglish