Kat's Nine Lives by Laina VilleneuveKat’s Nine Lives by Laina Villeneuve is a friends to lovers romance about putting in the time and energy to figure out who you are rather than accept what others think you should be.

Kat Morehart is planning a wedding, but it’s not her own. She’s done that, and it proved to be one of many events in her past that lead to heartache and uncertainty. When the church she works for, refuses to let a gay couple get married in its sanctuary, she jumps into action. She wants to make the couple’s day as special as it should be. She enlists the help of her friend Wendy Archer, a popular caterer in town. They have known each other since high school, but they weren’t exactly friends. Kate moved in a social circle that excluded teens who lived in the wrong zip code and weren’t carbon copies of the popular kids.

Wendy’s business has been thriving ever since Kat started throwing jobs her way, catering all types of events that take part at her church. Wendy remembers all too well the girl from her youth who seemed to have everything and live the perfect life.

As the two women work together to pull off the perfect wedding, they can’t help but acknowledge the attraction building between them. Wendy is clear about her intentions toward Kat. However, Kat is filled with doubts. Her history is full of twist and turns and after all, she’s straight.

There is no doubt that Kat and Wendy are perfect for each other, but can Kat see through all the chaos and disappointment of her past to give a relationship with Wendy a chance?

The Characters

The character work in this story is be-au-ti-ful. Kat has to be one of the most complicated, confused and compelling characters I’ve come across and bless her, I love her for it. She’s spent her entire life living to satisfy what was expected of her. She’s had to protect the part of her that was never allowed to grow up into an independent and autonomous adult. She has never given serious thought to who she is outside of her roles as daughter, wife, and mother. Despite all the disappointment and heartache from her past, she never comes across as a victim. She certainly has her share of legitimate fears based on her past experiences, but Kat proves she is determined to change her life for the better and I found her courage to be profoundly moving.

Wendy is an all-around awesome woman. Despite her good looks, success, and charms, she is completely grounded and without guile. She is patient and supportive of Kat which at times is no easy feat. She intuitively knows when to keep things light with Kat and she knows when to sit back and give Kat the room to talk about her feelings and apprehensions. I adore Wendy.

The Writing Style

This book is written from both Kat and Wendy’s points of view. Kat’s perspective gets much more page time than Wendy’s. This is absolutely as it should be because this story is close to a coming of age novel despite the fact that Kat is close to forty.

Villeneuve does a superb job with the pacing of this story. It is clearly a romance novel, but there are elements to it that made me feel like I was reading a mystery. She reveals clues about Kat’s past bit by bit. As each new piece of information was revealed I was surprised over and over again. All of these tidbits lead up to a better understanding of Kat’s fears and understandings.

The Pros

The book is set in Southern California and I loved that it took place in my own backyard. At every location I felt like I was right at home. Also, the book is full (like, totally dude) of 1980’s pop culture references and it practically has a built-in musical score that could have been a mix tape owned by my eighteen-year-old self. Every time a Madonna or Go-Go’s song was playing I couldn’t help but smile.

The Cons

I had to up my morning caffeine consumption while I was reading this book because I stayed up all night glued to my Kindle.

victorias favourite booksThe Conclusion

Wow, I was so hooked on this book that I had to read it twice, back to back. The first time I read it, I completely lost myself in the story. I was so drawn in by the characters that I was thinking about them 24/7. There’s also just enough angst to feed my obsession with big, daunting feelings. I then went back and read it with my reviewer’s hat on. I was just as wrapped up in the story the second time around, but I was able to relish the character development and the unusual plot twists on a more satisfying level. I have the feeling that this book, and especially Kat’s character, is going to stay with me for a long time.

Excerpt from Kat’s Nine Lives by Laina Villeneuve

“I wanted to apologize.”

“You’re apologizing? For what?”

“For prom.”

“Why in the world would you owe me an apology from more than twenty years ago?”

“I didn’t stick up for you, and I should have. I didn’t walk over and tell you how wonderful your gown was. Everyone was so surprised that you and your date both wore dresses, but they were so beautiful. I should have told you. So I wanted you to know.”

Wendy was so overcome, she had to sit down. She stepped out to her living room and perched on the edge of her white couch. She didn’t fully trust her voice not to crack when she said, “Thank you. For all of that.” The line went quiet between them, and Wendy wished she could see Kat to read her. She wished she could reach for Kat’s hand. The thought alarmed her. Dial it back, there, she scolded herself. No falling for straight friends, no matter how nice they are, remember?

“They thought one of us was going to wear a tux, didn’t they?”

“Yes. And I think you would have looked awesome in a tux, but I was glad both of you were in dresses.”

“Why?” Back then, she was always met with either anger or indifference from the bulk of the kids. She had only ever talked about those days with friends who were on her side. She longed to know what the in-crowd thought.

“Because it made all my friends so mad not to know which one of you was the boy.”

Laughter erupted from Wendy. “You have no idea how satisfying it is to hear that I boggled the minds of all the popular kids. If only I still knew Gretchen. It was her idea to wear dresses.”

“You wanted to wear a tux?”

“I felt pretty uncomfortable in that dress,” Wendy said.

“You didn’t look uncomfortable, but I can see how you’d be more comfortable in a tux.”

“You’ve never seen me in a tux.”

“What you wear at work is practically a tux. Those pressed pants and the crisp white jacket. Don’t lie. You know you look hot as hell.”

Wendy covered her eyes with her arm. Kat actually noticed how she looked?

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781594936081
  • Publisher: Bella Books

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