My Cat’s Guide to Online Dating – Christian Baines (Queer Mojo/Rebel Satori Press)

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Rebel Satori Press

Full disclosure: Christian Baines is a good friend of mine, and I’ve edited a couple of his previous books. None of this, however, prepared me what happens in this dark, disturbing, and deliciously funny novel. Oh, I’m aware of his tendency to write narratives that take the reader to some fairly bizarre places, but he surpasses himself brilliantly in My Cat’s Guide to Online Dating, melding revenge, hookups, cats, fever dreams, cannibalism, and freezer space with a WTF plotline to come up with one of the most entertaining books I’ve read this year.

Zach, on summer break from his freshman year at university in Toronto, comes home to his parents who, thankfully, are going to be away for six weeks on a religious retreat. His plan is to have lots and lots of sex, starting with Bttm4discreet, an online hookup. Bttm4discreet, however, happens to be Alistair Conway, the guy who ruined his high school life by outing him on social media and causing his parents to home school him his senior year. Zach recognizes Alistair, but Alistair doesn’t recognize him since he’s slimmed down. During Alistair’s exit, Zach’s cat, Grace Jones, trips him on the stairs, and he breaks his neck. With Grace Jones’s help, Zach has to deal with the body. However, that doesn’t mean he still can’t hookup…

Baines knows by now that the secret to making an unbelievable plot believable is keeping one foot firmly planted in reality, and the easiest way to do that is to create plausible characters. Zach is the glue that holds this whole thing together, and Baines works hard to keep him normal in spite of a texting cat and hookups that continue to go south. One of the best bits is the incident with Ethan, who is trying to maintain his own concept of normality by inviting Zach to post-sex dinner with his wife, Beth. They have an open relationship. You can see clearly the path toward the threesome, but then Baines zags by including a mother-in-law who also knows Ethan has outside sex with men. The frisson is wonderful, and Baines writes some snappy-ass dialogue here.

But Zach seems to be on a losing streak with sex. There’s Ben, a closeted former classmate, Dorian, a professional dom who’s a sub when he’s not working, and, of course, Cascade. Cascade is a movie buff who seems to have the most in common with Zach and is the most normal of the men he meets. Unfortunately, he has a partner he’s not willing to leave. However, they seem to come back to each other time and time again.

One of the dangers in reviewing books with such dangerously warped premises is that you really can’t reveal too much or risk a spoiler or two, and I wouldn’t do that to such a precariously balanced book. Best you take my word that My Cat’s Guide to Online Dating is well worth your money and time if you like something different and offbeat. I can just about guarantee you’ll enjoy it. Highly, highly recommended.


© 2023 Jerry L. Wheeler

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