A Rational Arrangement (Book 1)
There’s a diamond in this book, but it’s smothered by the occasional downside to self-publishing. On the surface, the author did everything right. Great cover, no blatant typos, solid plot, well-developed characters, unique world building elements. Unfortunately, this is where I plug the need for an impartial substantive or developmental editor IN ADDITION to beta readers. Because this book’s biggest problem is that it’s about a third too long, and not every reader is going to be happy to wade into a 600+ page epic just for the good stuff.
That being said, I’m a crazy fast reader, and I loved the good stuff. The book description makes this sound like a standard real-world historical romance with polyamory. I glanced at some Amazon review headlines and saw something about cats, my favorite animal. I was delightfully surprised when I started reading and found out that the cats were, in fact, a race of giant sentient beings in a speculative fiction setting. Combine that with characters who include representation of bisexuality and autism, and I was more than hooked.
Again, this book isn’t going to be for everybody because of the length (much of which is “I did all this world building! Let me show you it!”) and the surprise fantasy element that is not well advertised by the description. But if neither of those things deters you, this is a happily ever after worth taking a chance on.
Further Arrangements (Book 2)
This trio of novellas functions as an excellent companion piece to the full-length novel that precedes it. That being said, none of them can be read as stand-alone stories. Even the prequel story, “My Angel,” assumes significant familiarity with the world-building already in place, especially regarding the fantastical elements such as Blessings and greatcats.
My favorite story in this collection is “A Regular Hero” because of how well it highlights Rowyn’s crafting of the greatcat culture. Ansther and Callie’s happily ever after was a satisfying read, and the tale itself also shows the greatcats as sentient beings with goals and lives entirely separate from the humans in this world.
I also appreciated “Inconceivable” for the heavy topics it tackles, such as fertility and childhood trauma. No spoilers, but the ending is sheer perfection. Overall, this collection is a worthwhile read for those who thoroughly loved A Rational Arrangement.