Stories about werewolves abound, but stories that feature were-cats instead of their lupine cousins doe not seem to be quite as common. J.C. Wilder's Tempt Not the Cat is one for the cat lovers, featuring a stolen diary that contains dangerous secrets, a behind-the-scenes struggle for power in a preternatural underworld, and a heroine who writes paranormal romances that are more realistic than she would ever have believed.
While the main plot in Tempt Not the Cat involves the romance between Erihn and the were-cat Fayne, there are several other subplots that combine to make this a very involved story. When I picked up this novel, I felt as if I had stepped directly into an ongoing drama. This makes sense, because Tempt Not the Cat is part of the author's Shadow Dwellers series. Overall, Ms. Wilder does an admirable job of weaving the back story into the narrative so that we understand the basis of the conflicts without needing prologue or a long aside to get those of us unfamiliar with the series up to date. While I did have a feeling that I may have missed a little bit of character development of minor characters, I still feel as if this is a stand-alone novel. On the whole Ms. Wilder keeps these conflicts and subplots distinct and organized, and even though this is the first story by this author that I have read, I felt as if I got a pretty good taste of what was going on in the series.
With her main characters, Ms. Wilder gives us a damaged heroine who is just learning to come out of her self-imposed isolation and a hero who is a fascinating blend of warrior and caregiver. The interaction between Erihn and Fayne is sexy to the point of being combustible, and I dare any reader to read the love scenes without getting a little bit hot and bothered themselves. The were-cats are very sexual beings of power and grace in Tempt Not the Cat, and they entirely fit the sensual image of a feline. Another characteristic that these were-creatures share with their domestic counterparts is a susceptibility to the chemical lure of catnip. The scene involving the big cat's ingestion of this herb is sure to bring a smile to the reader's face.
After finishing this story, I definitely plan to read other volumes in the Shadow Dweller series. Ms. Wilder has captured my imagination with this world, and other characters in this series are definitely clamoring for my attention.