Cat Star Legacy, Book 2
Heat Factor: The hero is LITERALLY a sex cat
Character Chemistry: Destined to be together because of pheromones
Plot: A comic space adventure to stop xenocide
Overall: Hero is A+. Heroine and plot are meh.
I wholeheartedly endorse Cheryl Brooks’ dedication to the female gaze. She taps into a singular vision of female desire and then uses it as a checklist to create the ideal hero. (Look, obviously humans who desire male bodies actually want a wide range of things; this book, however, caters so precisely to monogamy-seeking heterosexual women that that’s what I’m focusing on here.)
Let’s start with our hero in the general sense. He is a feline/humanoid alien being; the males of his species were so awesome at sex – including sex with other species – that they were hunted almost to extinction by envious rivals. Luckily for the ladies of the galaxy, there were a handful of survivors that are doing their best to repopulate; conveniently, they can interbreed with earthlings and other non-cat-humanoids. (Note: While this is technically the second book in this series, there is an earlier 10 book series which tracks the first generation of survivors.) So what makes this cat alien man the perfect sex partner? A member of his species:
- Can only get an erection when he smells female desire.
- Purrs when aroused, which some find sexy and/or soothing.
- Once bonded, can only achieve an erection with his mate.
- Can successfully procreate with members of other species.
- Has full directional control over where his penis goes. In other words, he can move his penis around in a circle, should he so desire.
- Has pre-cum which causes orgasms when it comes into contact with his partner’s mucus membranes.
- Has cum which causes euphoria, acts as an analgesic, and is highly addictive. Plus, it tastes *delicious*.
In addition to his species characteristics, all of which make him a fantastic monogamous, heterosexual sex partner, the particular hero of this book is just generally lovable. Aidan has some special future-seeing skills, which means that up until this point, he has been hesitant about socializing, much less getting close to people – seeing the future is not all that it’s cracked up to be, after all. Because of this, he is generally isolated, and I really wanted to give him a hug. He also:
- Is humble, and a bit self-deprecating. He makes dumb blonde jokes about himself.
- Repeatedly reinforces to the reader how amazing the heroine is – not how hot she is, but how strong, smart, and capable she is.
- Loves to cook, and is damn good at making things like sticky buns.
- Immediately knows that Sula is The One for him, but never pressures her, and, in fact, takes measures to protect her from his supercharged genetic sexual appeal.
- Understands that even if a person exhibits physiological symptoms of arousal, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to have sex. This is Advanced Consent right here, and I am here for it.
Brooks’ dedication to catering to female desire even extends to the book cover. Look at those abs! Look at those pecs! Granted, this dynamic was much more extreme in the cover design of the original Cat Star Chronicles, where the cover models don’t have faces, just rippling pectorals:
All of that is a very long-winded way to say: if you read smut in order to drool over a hero, this is the book for you! Don’t be alarmed by the extra features his penis has – they just make things more fun.
If, however, you read smut for a full immersive experience and want the full package… well, then things get tricky. Since I’ve waxed rhapsodic about Aidan for so long, I’ll try to keep this part brief.
First off, the tone felt weird to me. Tonally, this is a fun space romp. There are a bunch of random aliens that they hang out with, who mainly provide comedic relief. (Including another cat man named Curly, whose brothers are Larry and Moe.) But the quest that they are fulfilling is: exposing a centuries long policy of mass xenocide. That is some heavy shit! Why is everyone so happy-go-lucky?!?
Second, I found Sula to be a disappointing heroine. She starts off strong: she’s an Earthling from Bangalore, working on a doctorate in anthropology. (Note to anthropologists: based on the little that she talks about her research, it seems like she’s actually a xenobiologist, since she seems to know a lot about alien reproductive systems, and very little about their cultures.) She’s on the run from some truly terrible folks, so she’s traded in her sari and is cosplaying Indiana Jones, complete with bullwhip, while camping in some desert mountains. She has been living rough for almost a year.
Despite all this competence, she doesn’t have much of a personality. At the end of the book, I didn’t have a sense of whether or not I would be friends with her, because she mostly seems like a blank slate for the reader to project themselves onto, so that they can vicariously desire Aidan as well.
Worse: She is supposedly this smart, capable young woman, who, on the brink of exposing a horrible plot that has involved the death of literally millions of sentient beings, reflects that the best of her life’s work will be in loving and supporting Aidan and her children.
Finally: I do not dig the whole destined mates thing. Aidan knows they are meant to be together because he can’t see her future and she smells delicious. So while Sula is initially a little bit hesitant, as she’s still processing the horrific death of her previous boyfriend, their relationship quickly feels inevitable – not just to the reader, but to Sula herself. The inevitability, in turn, means that there is little conflict or tension within the relationship. Of course I want a happy ending, but I wanted there to be a little bit more of a journey to get there than there was.
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