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REVIEW

"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

SUMMARY

**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...

 

Toil and Trouble
by C. S. Chatterly, M. A. duBarry

Imajinn
May 1, 2005
Available: May 1, 2005
ISBN #1933417013
EAN #9781933417011
168 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
C. S. Chatterly

Sorcerer's Apprentice
New World
Man Trouble
Daring the Underworld
Lydon's Exile
Delos Descending
The Groom
It's Magic
Incorrect Spelling
Cimmerian Reign, Book 1 & 2
Sinful Temptations
Flame and a Fireman
Cop and a Kilt
The Mountie and the Rockhound


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