Unexpected Gifts ~ Outside the Margins with Kelly Jensen

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I have welcomed many cats into my house and I have loved them all—and to a one, they have all been unexpected gifts. Some quite literally.

Two weeks before we were to fly to Australia for a month, my husband brought home an ugly little grey and white kitten his coworker had found behind her apartment building. The kitten looked as though it had been squashed sideways. It had a narrow and long body and head, gangly legs and very large eyes. My husband assumed it would be love at first sight. He was wrong. I did not want the cat. We had two already and we were about to go away!

We kept the him, of course. I wanted to call him Levi, because the washed out grey colour of his fur reminded me of old denim. We ended up calling him Jackson Kennard (after, um, a Sim), and he’s now my bestest buddy with fur. I love this little guy in a way that has no words. He’s the sweetest, most affectionate kitty I’ve ever owned. He’s also loud and obnoxious. I cannot work without him either on the desk, in front of the keyboard, or sprawled across the carpet beside my chair tempting me to nap. He watches TV with me, reads with me, sits by my plate when I eat and curls into my side nearly every night.


Jack is also a very handsome cat. He’s twelve years old and becoming more distinguished every year.

The next two cats to enter our household were supposed to be just one cat. A week before Valentine’s Day we popped into the pet store (as we do) to visit with the cats. We weren’t thinking of getting another (we already had two, Jack and Java), but we always look. My attention was immediately caught by an elegant black cat sitting on the tallest shelf. She was aloof, apart. She appeared to be unconcerned with the company surrounding her, and when she met my gaze, she confirmed this with a bored look—and a quiet plea. I do not belong here.

Meeting Shadow is what inspired the scene in Best in Show where Julian spots Mac (in big ginger tabby form) at Lingwood Animal Rescue.

* * * * *

There were no dogs on the other side of the window. He could hear them barking—a faint chorus of yaps and howls—but the cats lazing about on various towers and platforms, draped across carpeted tunnels and curled into the corners of litter trays, seemed unconcerned. They also appeared completely uninterested in the face at the window. Julian had never felt more invisible. Well, except to the cat staring at the window with wide, slightly panicked eyes.

Sitting at the top of the highest tower, the big ginger tabby wore an expression of quiet desperation. Its—his?—large amber eyes said: Get me out of here. A kitten clawed its way onto the platform beside the big cat. It clung precariously close to the edge for all of a second before the ginger tabby nudged it off with a distracted swipe of a rather large paw. The kitten tumbled from view. Julian thought to check that it didn’t lie broken on the floor, but he couldn’t shift his gaze from the ginger tabby. Forget the kitten, the large cat seemed to communicate. A darker patch of fur over one eye lifted slightly. Just take me home.

Julian touched a fingertip to the window. “I want that one.”

* * * * *

Where Mac arrives at Julian’s house with his own unexpected gifts—he’s actually a twenty-three-year-old guy, cursed and from a family of witches—Shadow stepped into our lives with a companion: another black cat, this one more lithe, friendly and determined to leave the store with her “friend.”

Because these cats were rescues, it was hard to say no. We didn’t say no. We took two black cats home and now I can’t imagine life without either of them. While Shadow remained somewhat aloof for a while, it quickly became clear that behind her shy mask, she was a sweet and affectionate cat. She now battles Jack for my attention, sitting at the other side of my desk chair, on the other side of my plate and sleeping right next to him on the bed.


She also likes to kill my plants.

Sisi, on the other hand, is unique. I’ve never met a cat like her. She marches to the rumble of her own purr. Her back legs are crooked, her tail has a kink in it and she does not like to be picked up. But she talks and sings, purrs as soon as you look at her, plays with every toy we’ve ever bought the cats, and is in every way utterly charming.

Her name was Mistake. We thought about calling her Missy, then changed her name to Sisimka (which is Swahili for ‘make the blood race’—and a name I used for a roleplay character I created nearly twenty years ago), which we immediately abbreviated to Sisi (pronounced Sissy). The name is wonderfully apt as this sweet little black cat is also our most accomplished hunter. She’s always bringing home unexpected (and not always dead) gifts.


She also adores Jack and loves to sit next to him.

Best in Show releases today! I loved having the chance to write about a character who spends half his time as a cat. You can read the first chapter at my website, and other excerpts by following my tour. And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win two of my backlist titles from Dreamspinner Press and $25 store credit.

~Kelly Jensen


Title: Best in Show
Author: Kelly Jensen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publication Date: 07/27/2016
Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza
Genre: Paranormal, Romance


Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.

Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.

Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.


Best in Show on Goodreads
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. At lot of what she writes is speculative in nature, but sometimes it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

You can chat with Kelly on Twitter @kmkjensen or visit her blog at http://kellyjensenwrites.com where she rambles on about anything and everything.

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2 thoughts on “Unexpected Gifts ~ Outside the Margins with Kelly Jensen

  1. So excited to read your book. Totally get the cat-rescue thing. My SO says I’m saving the world one cat at a time. On that note……enter Fluffy. Neighbor showed up on my front porch last Monday, w/cell phone in hand. Proceeded to show me pics of a beautiful silver Maine Coon mix. Upon my commenting that the cat was lovely, she informed me that he was in a box on his way to a shelter w/a not-so-hot euthanasia rate. Her sister’s father-in-law is in end-stage COPD and being admitted to an ALF where he isn’t allowed to have pets. How could I say no??? Fluffy (now known as Ruffy) is neutered, and they offered to take him to the vet for a check-up and current vaccinations. After a brief adjustment period (I have 16 other rescues, some strays, some ferals, some living outdoors in a kennel I had constructed) he is settling in and is so very happy to be here. He is an indoor-only cat, and his last “holding station” had multiple dogs and children. This home is cat-centric, and he is being treated like royalty. Such a joy, and such a gift to be able to help another furry friend. Really enjoyed hearing about your cats, and love that you and your hubbie rescue cats in need.

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