"Wonderfully funny story of cats and curses!"
Back in 1558, two friends, who just happen to be mages as
well, Trevor McGovern and Ian O'Rourke, are together in
Trevor's keep. The next thing they know, a stone comes
through a window and the courtyard is filled with women—
women they have loved and left. It would appear these
lovely lasses have had it with Trevor and Ian. The two
friends decide to stay in the keep for safety's sake, when
Old Esme shows up, a powerful witch in her own right. On
behalf of all the women Trevor and Ian have used and
discarded, Old Esme lays a curse on the two friends. The
curse being they turn into cats. The only way the two of
them can break the curse is by falling in love and being
loved in return, but this must occur with both men
simultaneously. And—poof!—they're both cats!
We are now brought into current times and Trevor, whose
name is now Toil, along with Ian, Trouble, are adopted from
an animal shelter by two sisters, Tabitha and Marian Cole.
Our first short story in this anthology deals with Trevor,
now known as Toil. Tabitha still can't believe she allowed
her sister to talk her into adopting a cat. At least she
won't be alone anymore. Of course, Tabitha is still in
shock she inherited everything after the mysterious death
of her mentor, Peter Morghann. Not only his very lucrative
business Morghanna's Maze, a supplier of all things
magical, but also Peter's mansion is now hers. Tabitha has
been plagued by unsettling dreams lately. She knows Peter
is trying to warn her of some danger, but the dreams aren't
clear enough for Tabitha to know what to expect.
Deciding to try out a flying spell, Tabitha asks for a
protector to keep her safe. Imagine her surprise when she
finds a naked man on her patio with her. Imagine Trevor's
surprise when he wakes up to find himself a man once more.
What danger is Trevor supposed to keep Tabitha safe from?
Will Trevor remain a man, or will he revert to being a cat?
Will he ever be able to break Old Esme's curse?
The second short story concerns Ian, or Trouble as he has
been named, and Marian. Well as soon as Ian gets to
Marian's small flat, he knows he won't be staying long. Ian
has been around long enough to know how to escape from any
home he finds himself in. Of course, he is quite surprised
when his new mousy owner gets undressed to take a bath and
he finds a veritable goddess hidden beneath her baggy
clothing, thick glasses and unattractive hairstyle. Well,
maybe he'll stay here awhile and see what develops, and he
falls asleep on Marian's bed.
Meanwhile, Marian decides to try a spell to find herself a
dream lover. Looking through her book of spells, Marian
finds one to try, but she'll need some cat fur. Naturally,
she cuts some from Trouble and casts the spell. Then she
goes to sleep. For some reason, both Ian and Marian wake
up. But now, Ian is a man and no longer a cat. When Marian
finds a naked man in her bed, she freaks and begins
screaming, knowing her neighbor will hear. Nothing happens.
When Marian tries the phone, the line is dead. Eventually,
Ian realizes they are both in a dream state. Trying to get
Marian to believe his story, however, is something
altogether different. When they wake up, Ian is back to
being a cat. The next night when they go to sleep and wake
up and Marian again finds a naked man in her bed, she
begins to believe him.
Will Ian be content to remain with Marian, knowing he can
never love her and can only be a man in a dream state? Will
Marian be able to let Ian go if he wants to? Will Ian ever
fall in love and break the curse?
TOIL & TROUBLE is a wonderful tale of curses and magic.
Authors C.S. Chatterly and M.A. DuBarry pull us right into
the story from the very first page and keep us enthralled
throughout. I love the way Old Esme got her revenge for all
the women who Ian and Trevor have wronged. I really love
the way a cat's point of view was brought out in the
anthology as well, from the indignity of having their
temperature taken, to being placed in a litter box—
something I have done with my own cats. This anthology
blends humor and love, magic and curses wonderfully and I
highly recommend it!
Posted February 11, 2006
Reviewed by Chere Gruver
Posted December 4, 2006
**2005 PEARL NOMINEE - BEST EROTIC ROMANCE**
TOIL: Tormented by a curse that leaves him in cat form for
centuries, Irish lord Trevor McGovern must repent for his
past sins by finding true love. If he fails to curb his
roguish ways, he's doomed to forever remain a feline...
After adopting a stray cat from her local animal shelter,
witch Tabitha Cole is stalked by an ancient, evil entity.
When she calls on the powers-that-be and asks them to send
her a familiar capable of protecting her, she ends up with a
naked hunk and her cat nowhere in sight... Can Trevor
convince Tabitha he's her cuddly cat turned protector? Can
Tabitha catch the dark entity stalking her before it's too late?
TROUBLE: Ian O'Rourke is spending eternity as a cat, but
because of his lecherous ways, a curse leaves him with the
ability to feel and think as a man...one with very virile
urges. Marian Cole is a Wiccan who adopts a cat from a
shelter. After all, cats are good company and don't care
what a woman looks like. Tired of being judged for her
appearance, she has given up on romance in favor of the
friendly companionship of a pet. When a miscast spell brings
Ian and Marian together in a dream, Marian wants to help Ian
resume his normal existence. Convinced there's no such thing
where he's concerned, Ian continually looks for an open door
out of her apartment and her life. While Marian might be his
very last chance at redemption, fleeing into the night is
his best choice. It's the one noble thing he has ever done...