A cat that’s used up eight of his nine lives makes a deal to preserve his last one in this light romance from the author of The Snow Globe (2010, etc.).
Ambrose is up a tree, but that’s no surprise because there’s a snarling dog below him. Having run through eight previous lives, none of which ended well, he strikes a desperate cosmic bargain to preserve his last one by promising to make a difference in someone’s life. At the very moment the orange tabby is about to become toast, a kind stranger shows up, chases away the dog and saves him. Understanding that he has to deliver on his promise, Ambrose follows him home and ingratiates himself into the man’s life. The kind stranger turns out to be a firefighter named Zach who is convinced he doesn’t need another relationship. Zach has been hurt in the past, both by his mother’s abrupt abandonment when he was a child and by an old flame. Although a confirmed bachelor, Zach, a firefighter, has a girlfriend: the beautiful, brittle, self-absorbed Blair, a spoiled rich girl who both hates Ambrose and wants Zach’s attention all to herself. It’s Christmas and Zach dreads the whole fa-la-la-la-la thing, but he can’t turn the cat out into the cold, so he hits Pet Palace for cat supplies and meets Merilee. Merilee is naturally beautiful, but sadly out-of-sync with make-up, clothes and modern female predation methods. She also knows all about cats. Following the cute meet, Ambrose plots ways to make Christmas and the infant romance between the two turn happy in this connect-the-dots story that leaves no romantic cliché unturned. More of a novella than a novel, Roberts’ book is a breezy read aimed at the Yuletide market, but it’s so slight in both plot and length that many readers may feel cheated. The author also has a distracting predilection for dotting each page with multiple parenthetical phrases.
While it may kill an afternoon, readers shouldn’t hope for anything more than a predictable plot, loads of pop-culture references and a small, albeit pleasant break from the demands of everyday life.