Snowflake Kittens
by Carola Dunn, Mona Gedney & Valerie King
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-6450-0
Ah, Zebra and its kittens, says I. What a trite marketing ploy! But then illumination comes to me. I, who routinely make fun of Zebra’s kitten books just as routinely buy them! Make that a brilliant marketing ploy. And, as is usually the case, I find myself reading three pleasant tales, all of them involving those mischievous mites who enliven both the stories and our lives.

My favorite of the three is Carola Dunn’s “A Kiss and a Kitten.” Perhaps my fondness for the story has to do with the unusual ages of the hero and heroine. Neither Damian Perrincourt nor Mariana Duckworth will see forty again, and yet they manage to fall in love very nicely, with the help of a mischievous kitten. Daminan has returned home after a long career as a soldier. A debilitating wound and the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law have forced him to return home to take up direction of his property and the guardianship of his young nephew and niece.

As he approaches his home, he notices a woman working in the garden of one of his cottages. Her grubby appearance cannot disguise her attractive face and figure. Damian is shocked to discover that the woman is his new tenant and immediately suspicious of her antecedents. Can she be respectable? Indeed, Miss Duckworth, as he discovers, is eminently respectable and very attractive. But Damian might never have managed to let Mariana know how he feels without the help of his niece’s mischievous kitten. This was a very nice story about two people who find love late in life, clear proof that romance is not merely for the young.

Mona Gedney’s entry in the anthology, “A Feline Affair” has a neat twist. A fashionable man who believes that he is immune to the attractions of commitment and family has his mind changed when a cat decides that he is the perfect “father” for her kittens.

Graham Livingstone has made his way to far Yorkshire to visit his brother who had abandoned society when his betrothed, Miss Marian Blakeley, ended their engagement only two weeks before the wedding. Convinced that only Miss Blakeley can induce Robert to abandon his self-imposed exile, Graham has invited her and her mother to visit his brother. But Robert, having discovered the joys of antiquarian scholarship, has no desire to renew his engagement or to leave his solitary life. Which leaves Graham to entertain the lovely Marian and to try to deal with Mama Cat, who has adopted him.

Graham is a simply delightful hero, one of those charming lightweights, who discovers in himself unsuspected depths and feelings when confronted with the responsibilities of “fatherhood.” He also discovers that Marian’s motives for visiting Yorkshire were not at all what he thought.

I suppose Valerie King’s story was my least favorite, with the most contrived plot. Lord Cheriton and Miss Grace Havistock were once betrothed but a family tragedy tore them apart. Grace blamed Cheriton for the deaths of her sister and brother-in-law in a sailing accident. So they broke up, but were tied together in the shared guardianship of their nieces. Now both are betrothed to someone else and each is pressing for marriage since the first to marry will gain sole guardianship of the nieces.

They are brought together to see their nieces and their nieces’ kittens perform a series of playlets, each of which has a message for the blighted lovers. Clearly, their current fiancés are unsatisfactory; neither likes cats. So the two much learn to forget the past and accept that they are perfect for each other.

While none of the stories in Snowflake Kittens is outstanding, all are quite enjoyable. Now, what do you think will be next? Valentine kittens? Easter kittens? May Day kittens? Whatever, I will undoubtedly find myself reaching for the book when it hits the shelves. Blame it on Sunlight and Shadow, my own very special “kittens.”

--Jean Mason

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