Stray by Rachel Vincent

Stray
Rachel Vincent

Ah, butt shot cover. The only thing that really bugs me about this cover is that the scratch marks don't look right. I expect them to be parallel with one another. This is the type of thing I get distracted by.. other than the butt.

Anyway, this is the first of what looks to be a series about a female werecat named Faythe.  Her father is the leader of the pack, the Alpha, and oversees a territory south of the Missouri and east of the Rockies to the Mississippi. Faythe is one of only 8 unmarried female werecats in the U.S. so she feels overprotected and fights bitterly for her independence. She's the rebel in her household. She is the only female to insist on college, and although she's supposed to be left alone, she knows her father has her under guard. Unfortunately for Faythe, her "independence", such as it is, is coming to an end. Werecat females are being abducted, and she is made to go home for her protection.

There is an excerpt of the first chapter. I read it before I decided to get this book, but the excerpt actually made me worry a little bit that I wouldn't like Faythe. Why? Well.. if you read it, Faythe puts herself in a dangerous situation instead of asking anyone for help. She has options, but feels that she has to prove herself so is willing to get hurt to do so. Well.. this stubbornness is a reoccurring thing. I think one reviewer on Amazon called her "Too Stubborn To Live". I was worried this would drive me crazy, but I was pleasantly surprised that it did not. I can't say the same for everyone who reads this, but I could understand this flaw – she's still growing up, and she's blind to the position her parents have to take. I know someone like Faythe – my younger sister, so maybe I'm just naturally more patient with this. That and as the book progresses, I think we see some of the blinders removed from her eyes. She begins to see things differently and I think she finds out that her independence is really hiding from responsibility.  As a reader I also secretly called her spoiled. The only girl, the youngest, she calls her father "Daddy", and even when she's "independent"  at college, she bills her father without telling him that she's graduated and signed up for grad school.  I think that in book 2 (Rogue), we're going to see a more mature Faythe. That's the way I see the books going. If not.. I may find the stubbornness harder to deal with, but for now it makes her a very interesting heroine for me and I hope it continues.

Another trait that I felt that some of the werecat characters seem to have was – greater emotion closer to the surface. Maybe it's the animal nature, but Marc, Faythe's ex-fiance shows a lot of territorial jealousy, and Faythe has a lot of anger and lashes out at Marc often. I'm a bit baffled at their relationship. He's still unable to accept her breaking off of their engagement, and she can barely speak to him without wanting to hurt him. I want to know – what happened?! There's some backstory there.

Stray is a debut novel and its 600 pages long. Which I was surprised by. I thought the length was a little long, but it wasn't overly so, but I also enjoy movies that go longer than expected, so not sure how other readers feel about this.

Overall I really liked this one. I think the series will have a similar satisfying girl kicking-butt feel as Kelley Armstrong or Patricia Briggs. The only warning I have is there is brutal violence in this book. The bad guys are really nasty and like to toy with their victims, and both they and the good guys can turn into giant black panthers that kill.

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