Seth is a veterinarian with a self esteem problem. He and his wife, Sarah, were in a poly relationship with another couple…until his wife and Zach wanted to be together, and Seth was left out in the cold. Now he only sees them when they need something from him. One night, Seth hires a cat shifter escort, “Nick,” for sex. Once they finish, Seth spends the rest of the evening crying in Nick’s arms. Seth’s never forgotten that night, but never expects to see Nick again.
Six months later, Seth finds himself at a NYE party, encouraged to attend by Sarah and Zach, who promptly ditch him. Who does he see from across the room but Nick, who rescues Seth from Sarah and Zach. It turns out Nick’s real name is Nao (pronounced “now”), and he remembers Seth and that night. The two spend some time talking about their lives and arrange to meet the next day for coffee.
Coffee leads to a tentative relationship between Seth and Nao. There are some issues, though. Seth’s self esteem problems threaten to get in the way of his happiness, and Nao’s refusal to give up his escorting job only enhances Seth’s concerns. Will Seth and Nao get stuck by the bumps in the road, or will they be able to overcome their problems to make their growing love work?
When I read the blurb for Cat Escort, I was intrigued. I love cats (I have four fur babies of my own), and I love shifters. This book seemed like it was right up my alley. Unfortunately, I was left disappointed, which is really too bad.
First, I found it difficult to like the main characters. Seth’s self esteem issues, coupled with the fact he continued to let Sarah and Zach repeatedly take advantage of him, made him seem more wishy washy than sympathetic to me. Meanwhile, Nao ran hot and cold. One minute, he and Seth could be having a relatively pleasant conversation, and then his personality would turn on a dime. For example, Nao and Seth have just met again after not having seen each other for six months, and talk turns to how careful Nao might have to be due to his profession.
“Why? Do you want to hurt me?” His soft voice could’ve been innocent, or maybe sensual.
“Of course not!”
Nao smiled. “Then, it’s all good.”
“Well, I mean…when we met before it was public, and the hotel was public too. But here?”
Tilting his head to the side, Nao furrowed his brows. “Here? Do you think I came with you to have sex? Like this is a trick or something?”
Seth’s eyes widened. Embarrassment and shame cluttered his mind. “No, not exactly.”
Nao’s shoulders squared like he unintentionally prepared to fight. “Where do you come off being so high and mighty? I can’t go to a New Year’s party and meet a friend? Instead, I’m here working? ‘Cause I’m a hooker, and that’s what hooker’s do?” His claws lengthened, but his black polish made it hard to see how long they were in the dark. Even angry, his voice sounded handsome.
See what I mean? Their talk had been going pretty well, but Nao got defensive quickly. Sometimes, I felt like I had whiplash from the fast turns.
Another thing that made Seth and Nao difficult to like/sympathize with was the sense of selfishness I got from them. Once they become an established couple, Seth doesn’t understand why Nao won’t give up his escorting job or clients. Meanwhile, Nao can’t understand why Seth is so hung up on that. This conflict became a major bone of contention between the two of them, and it became almost tedious to read. Eventually, they negotiate a compromise. Seth will try to be more understanding, and Nao will cut his client time from 25 appointments a week to eight. Still, by the time they’d arrived at this conclusion, this had been going on for a long time and it just became too much.
There was a lot going on in Cat Escort. There was the love story itself, of course, and the escort issues, but there was also a subplot involving Seth’s ex wife, Sarah, and his ex BFF (and also lover), Zach. I found this to be frustrating. The way the two of them treated Seth made me SO angry it was very nearly physically painful. They constantly told Seth he was boring in bed and in his every day life. Apparently, he brought them down and that’s why they abandoned him. And Sarah? Oh my goodness, how I despised Sarah. Not only is she cruel to Seth about his bedroom/life skills, she openly and obnoxiously flirts with Nao right in front of Seth. I hated the way Seth allowed them to walk all over him.
There are several other background characters that play roles in the book, but my favorite one, in fact my favorite character out of everyone, is Bruno, Seth’s cat. He was properly grumpy and demanding, but the best thing was the way he was able to “talk” with Nao. Especially funny was when he decided Nao was alright because he enjoyed his cooking…the mouse meatballs being his favorite (even Seth began to like them, but don’t get me started on that, hehe).
The story itself was a decent concept. I would say it had pretty good bones, but to me, it felt like it was entirely too long. The same ground is covered over and over again…Seth’s confusion and jealousy and insecurity…Nao’s stubbornness and tendency to turn on a dime. It became too much for me. As I mentioned, I love a shifter story, and I enjoy when shifters are paired with humans, but in the case of Seth and Nao, I wondered if this was a relationship that was better off not being a relationship at all.
Not everything was bad. I mentioned Nao’s kinship with Bruno, and there are some interesting times when Seth went to Nao’s cattery (like a little cat town or neighborhood). It was amusing because, well, if you have cats you know they like to be “up”…cat trees, cabinets, the Christmas tree…so all their living space is built moving upwards. Seth’s afraid of heights, but he’s in love enough to try to conquer that fear. Something else I liked was the bit of social commentary on how domestic cats should not be declawed. Story aside, Cat Escort it technically sound. It’s obvious the author did quite a bit of research on cats and their behavior. Also, she captured the way cats move…quietly and gracefully…very well. There was some humor, even though some of it felt a bit flat for me. I did find myself giggling a bit at different points. Here’s an example. It’s from the epilogue, which is written as a journal entry by Seth.
Nao still brings me lunch, since he’s so close. Although, I still haven’t developed a taste for rat meat, so I’m glad he doesn’t pack that or bring it home for dinner.
I guess we all make sacrifices for love, don’t we?
Cat Escort ends as expected. There are no surprises here. Seth and Nao get their happily ever after, and all is right in the world. Even though this book was a miss for me, others might find it an interesting take on a shifter story.