Kat Stevens is a slightly insecure, mostly bored technical writer who likes her cat a lot more than her boss. She hasn't laid eyes on her great aunt Abigail since she was eight, so she's stumped when she inherits Abigail's house in the small hamlet of Alpine Grove.
Kat's uncomplicated life gets decidedly less so when she discovers the inheritance comes with some hairy conditions: four dogs and five cats that her aunt wanted her to love as her own. Of course, the house smells like a barn--with a touch of antique skunk--and, naturally, has serious roof issues. And that's before the three-legged cat gets stuck in the wall and the shower goes kablooey.
When Kat meets Joel, an unemployed techie type with no love lost for his sister, Kat looks past his obvious flaws, given his timely and desirable skill set: a talent for fixing things (and his own tools).
Despite out-of-control dogs, cat fights, dust dinosaurs, massive spiders and an old grizzled hippie passed out in the yard, Kat discovers the tranquility of the forests of Alpine Grove starting to seep into her soul.
And why she can't she stop thinking about Joel?
This is part of the scene where the main character, Kat, is at work in her office and gets a phone call letting her know she has inherited a house in the small town of Alpine Grove.
“My name is Larry Lowell and I’m a lawyer in the town of Alpine Grove. I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
Kat nodded. How could this day possibly get any worse? “What news?”
“Your great-aunt Abigail has died. I’m very sorry for your loss.”
“Aunt Abigail? Really?” Kat flashed on a memory of a thin white-haired woman wearing a floppy peasant skirt. “Wow, I haven’t seen her in years and I think my mother lost track of her. What happened?”
Larry cleared his throat and said quietly, “I’m not entirely sure of the precise details, but I know she was ill. She was an ‘unusual’ person, but smart and funny, even right before she passed away. I talked to her just a few weeks ago. She came into my office to talk about her estate.”
Kat raised her eyebrows, “Her estate?”
“Yes, you are named the principal beneficiary of her estate. You have inherited all of her assets up here in Alpine Grove.”
“Assets? What exactly do you mean by assets?”
Larry cleared his throat again. “She has a home up here, but it’s not in the greatest shape at the moment. With a little TLC, you could fix it up. However, there are a few stipulations, as well.”
What was this? Twenty Questions? Getting information out of this guy could take a while. Fortunately, as a technical writer, Kat had years of practice extracting information from recalcitrant people.
“Mr. Lowell, what exactly do you mean by ‘stipulations’?”
“It seems, Ms. Stevens, that there are some animals residing on the property. Abigail loved her babies, as she called them, and she wanted to make sure that they would be well taken care of after she was gone. She remembered that you love animals, and that’s why she wanted you to be their new mom as she would say.”
Their mom? This guy had to be kidding. Maternal she definitely was not. “So Mr. Lowell, what type of animals are we talking about here? I mean, I don’t know anything about cows or chickens or ducks or anything. I have one cat and I live in a 950-square-foot apartment.”
“Please call me Larry. We’ll probably be talking to each other a lot over the next few weeks. It would be best if we could meet in person. Would you like to set up a time to talk about this matter and go over the details?”
“Okay Larry. You can call me Kat. So how many animals are we talking about?”
“Abigail had four dogs and a number of cats. When I went to the property, I don’t think I actually saw them all, so I’m not entirely sure. But we think at least five cats. Abigail left detailed descriptions of the animals, but people had a habit of dumping stray cats out at her place when they no longer could take care of them, so I may have missed some outside barn cats.”
Once he finally spit it out, Larry could share some serious facts. After digesting the lawyer’s information dump for a moment, finally Kat said, “I think you’re right. We should talk about this in person. Could you give me directions?”
Larry related how to get to his office in Alpine Grove and agreed to meet Kat on Saturday afternoon. They would then drive out to the property. He promised to explain the rest of the details when they met.
Kat hung up the phone and stared blankly at her Half Dome poster again. Her quiet and slightly boring life was about to get a lot more complicated.
Review Rating: 4
Review: A little mystery, humor, and great characters...that's what made Chez Stinky an intriguing read for me. It's a tad on the slow side at first, but it definitely picked up. Kat is a technical writer who's about to face some changes in life. The story made me laugh, and pulled on my heartstrings. There's so many feel good moments, but has it's emotional parts as well. It's a great read to sit on the porch for an afternoon and cozy up to. I'll be looking for more from this author in the future, I really enjoyed her writing style.
Susan Daffron is the author of one novel and 14 nonfiction books, including several about pet care and animal rescue. She lives in a small town in northernIdaho and shares her life with her husband, two dogs and a cat--the last three, all "rescues." Her latest book, Chez Stinky (www.ChezStinky.com) is the first of a series of romantic comedy novels that will feature the small town of Alpine Grove.
When she's not writing novels, Susan works as the president of Logical Expressions, Inc., a book and software publishing based company in Sandpoint,Idaho. You can read more about her at her websiteSusanDaffron.com.
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