Sealed with a Hiss contains two stories featuring journalist, Mave Kitten, and her boss, Lisa Blonde. Mave, gracefully mid-50s, works as a professional paranormal pesterer — er, journalist — for her local paper, the Echo. There, she, along with a semi-stray cat and her boss, Lisa, do their best to keep things afloat. Luckily for the paper, Mave is given a story to work on that brings both her gift and her talent as a reporter into play. You see, Mave can see auras and gets feelings about people and places that lead her to finding new friends and uncovering old secrets.
In Her Little Joke (previously published in the NineStar Press anthology Listen: The Sound of Fear), there’s a sound echoing around the nearby canal that’s bothering people. Some say it’s electricity, some say underground gas bubbles, but the local legend has it that it’s the sound of Annie’s husband who was locked away hundreds of years ago. While looking for one truth, Mave uncovers another about a pair of lovers who vanished mysteriously into nothingness.
It took me a moment to get into the vibe of the first half of this book, but by the end I was glad I’d stuck with it. It’s very much a trust the process sort of story, for me, as interviews, facts, and fancies are filtered through the very whimsical and emotional lens of Mave’s blog. It’s not quite conversational, as it’s very much Mave telling a story, but it’s also rambling, opinionated, and full of color as she tries to make what she’s saying interesting for her listeners.
And Mave is all about the story … and her part in it. She spills to her audience her own unrequited love for Lisa, her boss, as easily and breezily as she thanks listeners for their gifts or talks about the local museum. Mave is all personality, all warmth and compassion and cheer, where Lisa is more distant and aloof and, while more than willing to flirt back, she’s less willing to take things beyond the occasional kissing session, no matter how hot and heavy the two of them get.
Tensions build between the two of them in the second story, Swamp Woman, which is framed in a more conventional manner as an adventure into a swamp with aphrodisiacal powers. Previously two towns, the area was taken over by water companies and the area is now covered in water as a reservoir. A haunted reservoir that is currently facing a dry spell and leaving new paths open for researchers and giant lizards to get lost in. The two women are tasked to find Alina, a missing woman whose diaries mention a new lizard species, only to wander off into thoughts of loneliness, horniness, and a visions of a naked lizard woman. After one very erotic entry where Alina and the swamp creature have a night of passionate sex, the entries end and Alina vanishes. Lisa thinks it’s all in Alina’s head and that the poor girl needs rescuing; Mave isn’t so certain, as she firmly believes Alina’s story and that there are two women out there to be found and rescued before the water companies move back in.
The story is very much a slow burn as Lisa refuses to go as far as Mave would like, and Mave pines over Lisa in a very Mave-like way: To use Shakespeare’s words, I fancied the pants off her. […] I wished passionately that we were past flirting and comfortably onto the next stage—where we knew what the other liked, and there was no chance of getting it wrong.
This book is cute, charming, and quick. There is just enough whimsy and personality to draw you in, and just enough story, but in the end, it’s very light and shallow. I was entertained enough while I read, but I can’t see this book lingering enough for me to ever consider it for a re-read. Still, if you want a bit of light fun with a dash of paranormal and a bit of romance, this might hit the spot. It’s also the first in the Kitten and Blonde series, so if you have fun with this book, keep an eye out for the second one.