The Weird Comedy of Transformers: Leah Silver’s Mate with a Mongoose

I wrote this novella back and forth. It’s short, not a full-fledged novel, and has few details. Many plots have been skipped, but it’s a weird comedy, romance/parody/homage to “His Girl Friday” — with a twist. Nor are common top predators. A mongoose!

As a writer and writing teacher, I read this book and found it to be an understated masterclass in implied world-building. In short, it’s far greater than the sum of its parts.

On the face of it, it takes off from the great comedies of the Forties, especially the one starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, and the competition among journalists for the latest and greatest scoop. Future reporter Jasmine is stalking a political candidate with a mysterious past. Just when she’s about to get the scoop, the infamous paparazzi opportunity pops up, just as he used to do so often, to upstage her.

But this time, it’s different. We’ll soon find out just how different it really is. In a short time, Jasmine and Chance have teamed up on a report for a major Los Angeles publication investigating a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles.

Then things get really weird. It turns out that Chance is a shapeshifter, and his shapeshifter form is a mongoose. But Jasmine barely blinks. Jasmine is also a shifter, and not just any kind of shifter. She is a cheetah. As for the mayoral candidate, let’s just say (actually what Silver did) he and his entire legal team were sorted into Slytherin, and he was King Cobra.

All of this serves as an excuse for Molly to save the poor injured little mongoose (whom she still doesn’t recognize as her rival/partner) and bring him home. There, after she raised him, bandaged him, fed him, and slept with him in bed, he becomes human again. Within miles of her apartment, there’s a naked person with no clothes on.

This presents a hot romance, so the inevitable happens. For the shapeshifter universe, that doesn’t just mean surprisingly sweet and wholesome sexually explicit sex, but that Jasmine and Chance are destined partners. It’s a terrifying hybrid marriage between a large top predator and a cute, furry critter that Jasmine initially mistook for a ferret.

However, as Chance points out, mongooses are also predators. They’ve evolved to kill venomous snakes — and that’s exactly what they faced in their investigation. In human form, they are physically and sexually compatible, and emotionally they hit it off too, with quick banter and squabbles that turn into passion. In animal form, they hunt well together, complementing each other’s skills and stamina.

It’s hilarious, and the jokes are on point. The story closely revolves around the relationship between Jasmine and Chance, intertwined with political plots. Bigger world-building issues come up, but unless they’re directly related to romance and reportage, they’ll just stay in the background.

In fiction, we get all this. More politics. More workplace drama. And of course, more family drama.

Jasmine comes from a small family of cheetahs: grandmother, mother, ego. She expected to find a nice big cat boy and settle down. Opportunities come across the entire habitat of the Midwestern meerkat. His family is very big. A group of his relatives was constantly looking for a beautiful mongoose girl for him, and settled in a nice burrow, giving birth to many litters of baby mongoose movers.

The biggest problem with shifting family dramas is that partners are meant to be, and when it does, it’s made abundantly clear. They become telepathic with each other. Chance is everything; he loves and desires the cheetah, and even the curvaceous human woman.

Molly wasn’t too keen on it. She happily fell in love with the cute golden man and the cute little furry animals. But she wasn’t ready to settle down yet, and the telepathic part made her very uncomfortable. It could be sequestered, or the urge to mate could be delayed until it dissipated, which is what she was trying to do.

However, this is romance, and love is not denied. They’re a perfect match as investigative reporters, with her writing skills and his cinematographic flair. They’re madly in love with each other’s bodies, and they literally live for the spark that sparks in each other.

All the family drama condensed into a few well-chosen lines. We get a concise and clear look at their family. We clearly see how this transformation plays out for each of them: Jasmine focuses on hunting and prey, and Chance focuses on the mongoose’s intense curiosity.

Chance then takes some steps to return to being human. All he has to do is think about social media and go viral! He is a man.

This is a delightful romantic liqueur. Extract its essence, with its uniqueworld atmosphere. It’s sweet, spicy, and intoxicating.

Seriously. A mongoose. Among all the wolves, dragons, tigers, jaguars, mountain lions, bears of all kinds, and snakes, Chance managed to hold his own. He got that beautiful girl with big spots.

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