203 pages / 50000 words
If there’s one thing Sam knows for sure it’s that you can never go home again. As a feline shifter who grew up in a family of wolves, he’s used to being a freak. He stays in the city and tries to get his family to visit him, but when a loved one passes away, Sam has to go back to the New Mexico desert for a last goodbye.
Gus only comes back to the pack at gathering time, once in a blue moon. He’s usually a wanderer, but he’s with the pack when Sam comes home. Gus and Sam have never gotten along, but this time around Gus is surprised by the attraction he feels for this new, slinky version of his high school nemesis.
Sam and Gus may not be able to resist each other, but finding time to be together and overcome their differences might be too much for them, especially when danger lurks just around the corner, and all around the world. Can cats and dogs live to learn together, or are Gus and Sam destined to fail?
Jane Davitt, author of Hourglass, writes: 'Just Like Cats and Dogs' is a fascinating look at racial tension and prejudice as expressed through the interactions of two types of shifters; panthers and wolves. I've read many shifter stories but this one really made me think about the political implications if we did have shifters around us living hidden lives but organized and structured ones too.
Sam, who shifts into cat form and was, quite literally, raised by wolves has never fit in. Openly gay, he lives in the city, working as a dancer and choreographer. On the death of his father, he returns home and clashes immediately with a childhood enemy from the pack, Gus. As adults, the two of them have more in common than they realize and the tenderness that Gus shows toward the bereaved and vulnerable Sam really comes through. There are some wonderful scenes with the men in their animal forms that really rang true.
Gus is content, more or less. He mines gems, travels, gets on with his family. Sam doesn't fit in anywhere and as the story unfolds we see how precarious his life is because his own kind, the cats, see him as tainted by the wolves, and to the pack he grew up with, he's the enemy, barely tolerated. The lines are drawn; the city is run by the cats, the wolves like the countryside. 'West Side Story' is referenced in the book and this story does have 'Romeo and Juliet' overtones, the classic forbidden love story taken to a whole new level.
The love between the two men unfolds beautifully, their doubts and reservations, their primal antagonism, swept away by a stronger force. As we see a new order evolve around them, as if they're the focal point for change, the reader's left optimistic that things can get better.
Definitely a story that stays with the reader, thought-provoking and compelling.
Gus watched his mom and brother packing up casseroles and soup bones and all manner of shit to take over to Mona's. Jesus, he couldn't believe that Pop Finn was dead. The man was a fucking fixture in their neck of the woods, and everyone loved the guy, even if they disagreed with him.
"Are you coming, Gus?" His mom pushed her crazy red hair behind one ear. She was that way as a wolf, too, with a deep, reddish coat and one floppy ear. Pete was just the same way, and it used to pissed Gus off, when they were kids, that he looked like Dad, all shaggy and brown and shit.
"I'm not sure, Mom." He smiled wryly. "I didn't always get on with all the Finns."
"You don't say." Her lips twisted in a half grin. "It's been fifteen years. You're coming."
"Yeah." He shook his head. This wasn't about his issues. Pop Finn had been a good man, a solid man. Hell, that family had adopted every fucking stray that came across their land for the last forty years, up to and including a bunch of rowdy pups who just needed a place to blow off steam. He wasn't sure turkey casserole was an adequate expression of how they all felt, but he guessed it would do. He helped his mom carry everything out to the truck, getting it packed so it wouldn't slide around and spill.
"I'll take my truck, too, in case one of us needs to stay or something." Right, because baby brother Pete had a serious hard on for Lizzie -- the second to the youngest of Finn girls.
"Asshole." He grinned when Pete flipped him off. Gus did love fucking with people when he was home.
"You two behave or I'll beat you both." Mom hopped into the truck. "Get your ass in here, son."
Gus climbed into the driver's seat, bumping off toward the Finn's place.
"I want you to be nice to that boy while we're there."
"What boy?" All of the Finn kids were too old to be boys and girls.
"What?" He grinned. "Oh, you mean the pussy."
"Augustus Fieri, I will beat your heinie!"
"Yeah, yeah. I'll be good." He would. Unless pussy boy was an ass. In which case he'd kick the lanky little fuck into next week. Yeah, the beating sounded like a good plan. He grinned, which made his mom pop him on the arm. "Ow!"
"Stop it. You have evil in your eyes. That poor boy was Pete's best friend, even if he was different."
"You know, I want to know why everyone assumes it was my fault we didn't get along." It was offensive. Really.
She just looked at him. A lot. With her eyes.
Okay, so he'd bitten Sam. Chased him. Growled. Treed the little fuck once. They'd been boys. Boys did that. Just like Sam had scratched his leg so bad once that he'd had to get stitches. Had shredded Gus' favorite jacket in high school.
And that didn't even count the time someone who'd never been caught had put Nair in his conditioner.
God, he didn't want to do this. He hated funerals and gatherings for funerals and planning shit like that. He could be in a tourmaline mine somewhere...
"Thank you for coming out with me. I can't believe Michael died during the gathering."
"Yeah." Gus rolled his eyes. The gathering. It made it sound like a movie. They all got together during the harvest moon, once a year. It wasn't sinister or anything; it was a damned family reunion kind of thing.
"Do you... You and Petey, you'd be okay without me, right?"
"Don't even think it, Mom." He wasn't going to ponder it too hard.
"It's going to happen sometime, son."
"I know, Mom, but I could just as easily get smooshed in a cave-in." He shrugged. "We'd survive, but I won't lie and say it would be easy."
She vocalized softly, petting his arm. "Well, I hope not. You ought to miss me a little."
"Stop it." Gus couldn't help but growl some. It had been him and Petey and Mom against the world for a long time. He'd miss her like a lost limb.
"I think we should go to Burger King after we pay our respects."
"I think that's a great idea." Meat. Ketchup. Yum. He even liked fried potatoes.
"Me, too. Pete will be busy sniffing after that pretty little girl, so we can duck out." Mom winked at him.
"There you go." He patted her leg, knowing she needed contact as much as he did. "I'd miss the hell out of you, Mom."
She nodded, sighed softly. "Poor Mona."
"She has all those kids, huh?" What, eighteen? Lord.
"Yeah. Sam sends money home to her, so do Gray and Helena."
"She'll make it." She had to. The greater pack really wouldn't know what to do without Mona Finn.
They pulled into the drive, the place filled with trucks and cars and SUVs. Everyone had turned out. Gus felt a little queasy, but Petey was right there in front of them, and he came to help their mom out of the truck. "I'll be along in a minute, okay?"
"Sure, honey. I'll be inside with Mona."
He walked around the side of the house, needing some air, something. He turned the corner and ran smack dab into someone, the two of them crashing together.
"Shit!" He stumbled, but instinctively tried to catch whoever it was. Gus knew he was big. He could do some damage. "Sorry."
"No problem." The voice was soft, slinky, pure sex somehow, making his hair stand up on end.
He stepped back to look at the man, because it was definitely a male, and his eyes widened. "Pussy boy?"
One black eyebrow arched impossibly over a bottle green eye, then he was flying, back hitting the ground before his fucking chin started hurting from the kick it had received.
Shiny black boots appeared by his head, only for a second. "Indeed."
Then they were gone.
Holy fuck. Gus sure didn't know where Sam Finn had learned to kick like that, but damn. That was something.
Kinda hot, too.
Somehow the whole funeral thing had just gotten a whole lot more interesting.