cat's chance in hell audio coverStory Rating: 4.25 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars

Narrator: Greg Boudreaux
Length: 11 hours, 47 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Carter Strike is a Siamese cat shifter who works for demon Tommy Tittoti, both as an assistant at his salon and as his right-hand man for other more sensitive work. Now, word on the street is that there is a contract on the head of Tommy’s mate, Poe Dupin, and Tommy needs Carter to help dig around and find out who is after Poe. Carter is happy to help Tommy and Poe however he can, but he isn’t particularly thrilled to be expected to work with the infuriating Bengal Damon-Cowles, Roger of Southeast Baltimore. The rakshasa is gorgeous and alluring, but he is also grumpy and wants nothing to do with Carter, much to Carter’s annoyance.

With Carter staying with Bengal as they look into the situation, the tension between the men gradually gives way to their mutual attraction. But Bengal seems to be fine keeping things casual and doesn’t seem to want much more from Carter. He is also clearly keeping secrets about his health, his past, and a locked room in his mansion. Carter is happy the men aren’t at odds anymore, but he still hates that there is such distance between them, especially as he is finding himself falling for Bengal. As Bengal reveals his secrets, however, it is clear that the situation is serious and threatens any chance of a future for the men. But with a killer still on the loose, even if the pair can work out how to stay together, Carter and Bengal’s lives are on the line.

Cat’s Chance in Hell is the second book in Meghan Maslow’s Charm City Chronicles series. These books are fun, light-hearted paranormals with a nice dose of heat and great romance. This story features new main characters in Carter and Bengal, but the larger world building and some of the side characters do carry over from the first book. Tommy and Poe also play a prominent side role here (and Carter appears in the first book), so having read that first story will give you a nice foundation to this book and make a more enjoyable reading experience.

Carter is a character full of sass, attitude, and loads of personality. Sometimes that works well as a side character, but not as well as the POV lead character, but Maslow makes that transition really well. Carter still brings his full personality to the story, but getting to know him better and learning about him as a character helps to temper some of his more outrageous side. I loved the balance between the Carter who is all pink hair and tight jeans and “look at me” attitude who doesn’t take crap from anyone combined with the more serious side of him we get to see here. He has a heartbreaking backstory that has really shaped his personality and we can see why he feels so beholden to Tommy. Bengal is also a really interesting character with a lot of secrets that slowly get uncovered over the course of the book. I really enjoyed the reveal of what was really going on with Bengal and we see how his protectiveness of Carter leads to conflict between them. We need a strong character with a lot of personality of his own to give balance to Carter, and Bengal provides that well. The two end up being a good match for each other and Bengal gives Carter that care and nurturing he has really been needing.

Outside of the relationship, the larger story focuses on the threat against Poe, which bleeds into some larger politics and other bigger problems. I think Maslow has created an interesting world here with these self governed Baltimore neighborhoods ruled by supernatural beings and the conflicts that arise. It also leads to some tricky situations, as Carter has to navigate allegiances to Tommy, as well as to Bengal, and they are not always in alignment. It all leads to some really exciting and intense moments, both for how things resolve for the men, and also with the killer on the loose. We don’t get full closer on the big picture threat and the end of the story gives some indication of the direction things are likely going in future books. I also continue to like the Baltimore setting and Maslow makes the most of it with lots of local references and tidbits that help bring it to life. My only complaint here with this end of the story is with regard to Poe’s friend, Kennedy, who ends up getting a position of power and makes some selfish and dangerous decisions that almost cost Carter his life. I felt like the story doesn’t really settle here on how we are supposed to view Kennedy. To me, this made her seem like a villain, a character that made me angry by her actions (and the characters angry as well). But then it is sort of all brushed away so easily and I didn’t really understand why or whether this was all supposed to be no big deal.

I listened to this one in audio with narration by Greg Boudreaux and, once again, he does a great job. Carter is the POV character and has a very distinctive sort of high, lilting voice and Boudreaux does well carrying that throughout the audio. I also appreciate that Carter’s voice fits his size and personality, but doesn’t veer to over-the-top camp. Bengal’s voice is suitably rumbly and deep and fitting with his character, including the light accent. The recurring characters are carried over well from the first book, and I love hearing Tommy’s drawl and the way he calls Poe “Birdie.” Boudreaux is just a really good fit for this style of story with the light comedy and fantasy mix and he gets the tone and the feeling of the audio so spot on. My only negative once again is a total “local girl” nitpick, but I just don’t understand why the characters pronounce Baltimore as the very accented Bal’more, yet no one has any other kind of local accent. It just doesn’t make sense to me that this the only word that anyone speaks with an accent. Particularly since people who pronounce the city name this way would have a heavy regional accent overall, not just this one word. I know this isn’t something that will bother almost anyone else, but it just jars my ear every time.

Overall, I really enjoyed being back in this world and I had a lot of fun with Carter and Bengal’s story. Maslow seems to be setting things up nicely for future books with some interesting characters and I am looking forward to more.