Hunting Kat by PJ Schnyder is an ebook-only science fiction romance published by Carina Press. It’s also the first book in the author’s new Triton Experiment series.
The title character is Kaitlyn Darah, member of a mercenary spaceship’s crew on the outer edge of human explored space. But Kat has a secret. Sometimes, she really is a cat. She shapeshifts into a panther as a result of a bio-engineering experiment that was forced on her three years ago. Physically, she is super-human. Psychologically, she is still… recovering.
Her captain knows her secret. And he protects her from a government that would use her as a lab rat. Or is that lab cat? But he knows that after three years, she is ready to take the next step in her rehab, and start to join the human race again. He sends her on a courier job that will make her re-learn some social skills, by stranding her for two days for R and R.
Kat surprises herself by making a friend in Boggle, a beyond-stereotypical über-geek who can, and will, provide her with data on missions in return for simple friendship. A friendship that he needs every bit as badly as she does.
But Kat also meets a man in a bar and takes him back to her hotel room. This set up for a one night stand turns out to be anything but. Lt. Christopher Rygard is a warrior every bit as battered as Kat, but in his case, it’s his sense of trust that’s injured. His fiance sent him the typical “Dear John” missive just before his last mission. Bad enough, but it’s his trust in his commanders that has really taken a pounding. What used to be an elite squad that made a real difference, something he could believe in, has recently become an instrument for personal gain, or even nastier deeds. He goes into that bar looking for a decision on whether or not to re-up at the bottom of a glass of whiskey. and instead finds Kat.
Their night together was both tender and sexy. But the morning after was nothing but ugly, as both his trust issues and her insecurities resurfaced with a vengeance. But when a pack of leopard shifters burst into their “morning after” intent on killing Rygard because his unit stole their cubs, everything changes.
Escape Rating B: This was a quick introduction to the series. Only 25,000 words long, this story kept me entertained for an hour, but it was a very well spent hour. Be advised, this story doesn’t lead to a happily ever after, but these two characters aren’t ready for one, either. What they are ready for is growth and healing, and the promise of happy later, hopefully together. They end up in much better places then they started, and that was happy ending enough for this reader.