Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pleasingly cat-like fun: The Highwayman by Hauf

Great Moments from last night's reading
Book: The Highwayman by Michele Hauf
Series: Wicked Games, this is book 1
Page: I'm only to 40 so far
Spoiler level: none

In Michele Hauf's WICKED GAMES miniseries, a match between cat and demon takes on a most delicious spin...

Max Fitzroy, the legendary Highwayman, had slain scores of demons with a razorlike whip and a burning need for revenge. Now, to rid himself of the demon inside him—who'd cursed him with immortality and stolen all sensual pleasures—Max needed a witch's familiar, the one creature he'd made a career of killing.

But the Highwayman wasn't prepared for the familiar named Aby. The sleek and sexy conduit to the demon world saw past his swirling shadow as easily as he scaled the walls she'd erected to protect herself. Max needed Aby to grant him his freedom, and then he needed to slay her. But how could he destroy the only creature he'd desired in centuries?

I'm just starting this novel, which I won from Chris at Stumbling Over Chaos, (and who lives just a few blocks away from me! On my same street!) I'm really enjoying it so much! Things I really like so far:

-The hero, Max, is this doomed loner immortal highwayman who wears a long dark duster and spurs. Sorry, I'm just a sucker for this sort of hero. Max starts out with bad intentions for our heroine Aby: get her to summon a demon, which involves having sex with her, then kill her.

Zoiks! On her fun blog post full of little tidbits about this book, Hauf notes that she has Max driving a Mustang because she wanted "
to somehow work in the image of a highwayman riding a horse (mustang; horse; get it?)" There are so many great little details like that here.
- The heroine is a CAT shifter familiar. Well, she hasn't shifted yet, but I'm looking forward to it a great deal. Even as a human character, Aby is pleasingly cat-like. Slinky, curious, a certain coy, bright, alert personality. I've always loved how Kelley Armstrong does wolves, especially in the book Bitten, but as cat person, I'm super happy to see this. I'm really looking forward to more of this cat.

- Cooler still: in the Aby sections, there is a certain subtle cat-like music to the prose. Here is an example (oh, and at the bar she orders cream with a touch of grenadine):
Aby sipped the pale pink cream from the wine goblet. This didn't feel right. She should walk away and find Severo.

And yet, the stranger smelled so interesting. A girl could lose her sense of right and wrong from an enticing scent.
"I'm retired." Aby turned and, leaning against the wall, offered a forced calmness. It was difficult to be too standoffish when the man was so delicious.

Sex all night with this one?

It could never happened the way she'd like it to go.
Do you hear it? It's in the short sentences and the internal music of the long ones. Maybe it's just my cat-addled brain.

Another tidbit from Hauf's fun blog post: "The heroine started out as a white Persian cat-shifting familiar. Halfway through the book I thought "I so cannot see a fluffy white persian kicking butt" so I switched her to an Abyssinian, which, through research, I learned was a breed that is very chummy with dogs. Worked out perfect because her best friend is a werewolf."

Another cool thing:

-As you see above, our cat shifting heroine, Aby, is friends with Severo, a wolf. There's a cool dog and cat dynamic between the two. I also like when Max, Aby and Severo are onstage together--the evolving dynamics between the three of these characters is already starting to be very interesting. Here, an excerpt, narrated by Max.
The pixie-haired familiar shook her head and slunk against the wolf's side. The mongrel lifted his chin, eyeing Max down the bridge of his nose.

She'd been confident and open earlier, when she had not been in the wolf's presence. Max would get nothing further from her until he could speak to her alone. That is, if he could convince her he had no intention of harming her.

He could lie with the best of them.
I may report back later. Note that the book is only out for a month! Info, excerpts and prologue here. Reviews: You gotta read, Alternative worlds, Darque reviews, anybody else?
Cat images: Tiberius, mine.


Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Giddy Up! Nice cover. Yum.

Chris said...

I'm glad you're enjoying it! Must go read Hauf's tidbits...

Also, thanks for pointing out the cat-like nature of the writing! I definitely caught the cream references and such, but missed the feel.

Carolyn Crane (aka CJ) said...

KB: Giddy up you!

Chris: Thanks again. So fun to read this one.

Lea said...


I love your posts about the books you are reading! Makes me want to go right out and buy it!

You lucky lady - I threw my hat in the ring for this one at Chris' too. But Oh well, the better lady won. :)

BTW, I wanted to thank you for forwarding "Scandal" on to Christine when you were done reading it! So appreciated it.

Thanks for the "kitty" post.


Jill Sorenson said...

Cool set up! I'm a fan of the "must sex her then kill her" premise. Maybe because we can safely assume that the hero won't go through with the killing part!

Thanks for the heads up.

Carolyn Crane (aka CJ) said...

Lea: Aw, thanks you are so funny! I hope the kitties get along with your puppy.

Jill: I can't tell if you're kidding or not with liking this premise!

Sarai said...

So sounds nice I might have to splurge and pick this one up. DO we know how many are in the series?

Jill Sorenson said...

I'm not kidding. I genuinely like the kill her/kiss her conflict, a la Anne Stuart's Ice Series. Yeah, it does seem like a strange preference. But isn't that the draw of a dark/dangerous hero, esp something like a vampire?

Carolyn Crane (aka CJ) said...

Sarai: I think there are three. I should check.

Jill: Oh, I LOVED that dynamic in Black Ice! It feels so different here I didn't put them in the same catagory. Okay, thanks for the clarification.

Tumperkin said...

Oh I so enjoyed this post!

Michele Hauf said...

Hey! I was just surfing and stumbled upon this fun little bit about my book. So glad you're liking it so far. And fun to see you point out the cat-like prose. Hmm... I didn't try it intentionally, but the cream and her physicality was definately modeled after my two cats.

For those who love the kill her/kiss her motif (I love it too), did you know you can download a full copy of my Kiss Me Deadly from The heroine in that story once killed the hero (he didn't quite die) and now he's back to kill her. '

[sorry, didn't mean for that to come off as a promo post, but heck, I want everyone to get free books when they can!]

Linda Ellen said...

I want to read this! I've only read From the Dark from Michele Hauf and enjoyed it, although it was published a while back.

I love how you've included the tidbits. They're entertaining and lets us peer in and sort of see how the author's mind works. =)

Thank you for stopping by my blog! =)

Carolyn Crane (aka CJ) said...

T: So glad!

Michele: Hey! thanks for stopping by, and I am continuing to enjoy. And thanks also for the free book heads up!

Linda: Aww, thanks so much! Great to see you here.

orannia said...

I so like the sound of the hero. And your puddy tats (yes the spelling is deliberate :) are just gorgeous...and don't they know it :)