In the third installment of the Tiger series, Kelsey Hayes pushes through the pain of lost love and strengthens her friendship with Kishan1. Despite his strong feelings for her, Kishan has agreed to be her ally in helping her reunite with the man she still loves2. Together, they seek to help Ren regain his memory and begin the search for the third magical gift—an object of power that will help break the curse that causes them to live part of their lives as tigers....and the synopsis goes on and on and on, but that's the gist of it.
They board a luxury yacht3 and seek Durga's aid once again, who supplies them with her golden weapons. With Nilima, Mr. Kadam, Ren, and Kishan at her side4, she soon learns that the task ahead will be even more difficult than the others. Confronting a dark magician, multiple dragons, and terrifying denizens of the deep seems easy when compared to facing the daunting task of stitching up her heart...
Tiger's Voyage was... well, the first thing that comes to mind is how much I laughed while reading it. I mean, it was a riot. Was it a comedy? Um... well? No, not really. This is straight up paranormal romance. There is a girl (we'll call her Slug-Baby). There is a guy (two of them, actually) that are cursed to spend a portion of their day as tigers. There's love. Lots of it. And kissing. Lots of it. Actually, too much of it4, but at least they never do anything more than kiss. Aside from sleeping in each others beds like a bad episode of Dawson's Creek. Oh, yeah, and there's a quest, or in this case, a voyage5.
I've heard this series described as Twilight meets Indiana Jones, and that is actually a very accurate blurb. The love story aspect is somewhat convoluted and one sided, I'm not actually certain that Slug-Baby loves either guy or just doesn't want to hurt either one's feelings. And the adventure is so much fun, full of traps and quests within quests, and puzzles and pitfalls. Houck really has a knack for classic story telling as she reveals in some of the truly bizarre settings and challenges that the trio face on the voyage. It's the story telling, more than anything, that keeps me coming back to this series.
But I know what you're wondering most of all: "Why do you call Kelsey 'Slug-Baby'?" Gather round, my friends, and I'll tell you the tale of how Slug-Baby got her name...
Kelsey was once a real girl. She was alone, in a sad sense, since she had lost both her parents in a car accident, but she had a polite, vegan foster family to care for her. Then, one day, a marvelous thing happened: the circus came to town! Kelsey decided to work at the circus, and her vegan foster parents encouraged her, though they would miss having her around to babysit while they jogged.
So Kelsey, who was still Kelsey at this point, packed up her hair ribbons and her grandmother's quilt and moved to the circus. Such nerve! There she met a white tiger who seemed sad and alone. She felt for the tiger, all stifled in his cage, and began to spend time with him. Kelsey discovered that he enjoyed Shakespeare, because who doesn't, really? So she read to him, and the tiger was happier for it.
Kelsey and tiger became friends.
One day, a rich, Indian man came to the circus asking Kelsey if she would accompany the tiger to India where the rich man wished to rehabilitate him. Kelsey asked her vegan foster parents what they thought about her, a naive high school grad, traveling to a foreign land with a complete and suspiciously rich stranger. They thought it swell.
So Kelsey, who was still Kelsey, traveled to India.
Fast forward. Surprise, the tiger is a man! And he loves Kelsey, who is becoming less of a Kelsey everyday. And the rich man is not evil or creepy, he's polite and encyclopedic! And also immortal!
Fast forward yet again, and there's another tiger-man! And he loves Kelsey, who is even less of a Kelsey than before. He doesn't care that the girl who was Kelsey is in love with his own brother. He wants her. So he steals her kisses, even as they work to save the brother she loved first. And the girl who was Kelsey finds that she likes him too. Her tigers are perfect and bronze and handsome and brave and they take care of her in marvelous ways! They defend the girl who is no longer Kelsey from enemies and tuck her into bed. They make sure that she's eating and shield her from sadness, as best as they can. They love her even when their love brings her to harm and do everything for her as if she had no arms.
Slug-Baby is born.
So, obviously, this is not a dashing tale of equality, although Kelsey does perform some brave and clever feats now and again, mostly when her tigers aren't quick enough to stop her.
And this isn't a wonderful and swoon-worthy love story, either. Love is...not this. Love is willing the good of another, and I just don't see that in the way Kelsey leads both of the brothers on or the way that they fight for her affection and cause her great turmoil and confusion.
But it is entertaining, especially when read critically.
I give Tiger's Voyage 5 zombies for the story telling parts where marvelous things happened, and 3 zombies for the rest of it, which equals...
& this was
1. I believe it's pronounced kih-shin, both with the short I sound.
2. If you write it, it must be true. Kishan was a cad in book the second, Tiger's Quest, but he made a miraculous recovery and is now the better man, in my opinion. Hurray for the power of love and edits.
3. "Luxury" is an understatement. One of the things that keeps me reading this series is the extreme opulence. The yacht was more like a private cruise ship and Kelsey always gets the best of everything. I wonder if that bothers Nilima? Anyway. Everything is described in excruciating detail, but I find it entertaining how very rich and detailed the environment is. It's like taking a tour. In fact, the detail almost moves this one out of Paranormal Romance and into Fantasy, except for the amount of kissing [see footnote #4].
4. I wound up skimming a good portion for the book. Kissing just doesn't make for good reading, especially when it's paid the same amount of detail as the setting. I literally skipped two pages that were dedicated entirely to one kiss. Plus, there was one really creepy kissing scene. Like, really, really creepy. Like, "please don't let this be what girls find dreamy" type creepy.
5. A voyage being a quest which takes place on the water.