OHMYGOODNESS! Catching a Man is easily in my Top Ten Books of 2014. I just asked hubby for confirmation: he estimates that I looked up from reading to tell him how much I was enjoying this book at least a dozen times, if not more. I think this is Elizabeth Corrigan's best work yet, and I really, really, really hope the series continues.
I could gush without details for another 500 words, but I'll spare you. :) I'll move on to the concrete details that make Catching a Man unique, entertaining, and un-put-down-able. First and foremost, there's the main character, Kadin Stone. She's a very young adult who is in her first grown-up career role. As a young adult female myself, I found myself totally identifying with her. I still remember all too well the nerves on my first day at my first "real" job. I loved the part where Kadin is informed that she's responsible for brewing the office coffee, and being totally defeated by the fancy coffeemaker. She handles the whole situation with aplomb, and immediately makes a plan to learn how to brew the best pot of coffee in the city! Kadin shows this same go-getter attitude in everything that she does. She never lets society dictate her life, and she always aims to give 110% to every task, no matter how great or small.
Speaking of letting society dictate your life... Catching a Man is set in a very 1950s-ish world. The girls all wear skirts and dresses and uncomfortable shoes, and every girl's end goal is to catch a man. Young women are only expected to work for a year or two; just long enough to get a husband and move on to their intended "career:" stay-at-home mom. Elizabeth Corrigan does such a fantastic job showing us Kadin's struggle with this. She really desires to catch a man and become a housewife. That's the only thing that society has ever shown her is possible. And yet she has an innate desire to really succeed at her job, while she's working. She loves her job, and this conflicts her. All of this is shown, not told. Kadin's thoughts and actions ring so true to life. Oh, but I set out to gush about the setting. I love the Mad Men type of atmosphere permeating this book!
As if the setting and strong main character aren't enough to recommend this book, then there's a murder mystery! You see, Kadin's job is aide to a chief investigator, which is like a police detective in the world of Valeria. The queen is found dead in her chambers, and Kadin's team is called in to investigate. As I mentioned, Kadin really wants to give her all to this job, so the reader gets to see the whole investigation unfold. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and didn't try too hard to solve the mystery myself, and I never saw the ending coming! Maybe because of the 1950s setting, I kept feeling like I was reading one of the mystery classics, like an Agatha Christie.
Are you convinced yet that you need to read this book? I have one more thing, if you're not convinced yet: magic! Magic is a very real part of the Valerian world, and must be taken into account in investigations. So Catching a Man is a fantasy mystery historical romance. That's a mouthful! And would totally throw a challenge to any bookseller or librarian trying to shelve it. Also! The main character is in her early 20s. So I could hand this book to an older teen or a grown up! A mystery lover or a fantasy fan! The audience is so wide. And yet... and this is almost magical itself... the book doesn't feel like it's "trying too hard." Everything fits together smoothly. Nothing feels cluttered. The ending is also spot on: the mystery is solved but the characters are left open-ended enough to provide for a sequel (PLEASE).
*I received my copy of Catching a Man from the author, but I will gladly spend my coffee allowance on the sequel!