Gini Koch’s “Alien in the Family” Equals Light, Witty, Amusing SF/Romance

Gini Koch’s ALIEN IN THE FAMILY is the third book in her series about Katherine “Kitty” Katt, an “alien exterminator” who works with both the CIA and the Centaurion Division.  Kitty is engaged to Jeff Martini, who looks like any old (extremely good-looking) human, but is actually an “A-C” — that is, he’s from Alpha Centauri originally but ended up settling on Earth, along with many others, due to a religious dispute.  Jeff has two hearts and can move at hyperspeed; otherwise, he’s the same as any other male in existence — that is, he’s jealous, frequently for no reason whatsoever, and really likes to have sex.  (A lot.)

Kitty, of course, is madly in love with Jeff and finds him intensely desirable.  Which is why in this third book of the “Kitty Katt” series, Kitty’s about ready to settle down with Jeff in what’s literally the wedding of the universe.  But getting married obviously isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds.  The A-Cs are undercover (no, humanity still doesn’t really know anything about the A-Cs, aside from agents like Kitty) and mixed-marriages between humans and A-Cs are frowned upon.  Worst of all, Kitty finds out that Jeff is actually exiled Centaurion royalty (something he doesn’t care about, but the other A-Cs, both off and on Earth, do), which cause major complications all around.

As this is humorous science fiction romance, there are many laugh-out-loud moments due to the scrapes Kitty gets into (some are of her own making; most aren’t) and the people of all stripes, nationalities, and species she runs across.  Kitty, you see, is against being politically correct, so when she meets a member of a lizard-like race, she calls that person an “Iguanadon.”  (That person eventually gets over it.)  And, this being a comedic romance, manages to make that person not only her friend, but a second “BFF” (her first BFF, a gay former international fashion model named James Reader who figures into the plot in a not-so-insignificant way, of course doesn’t mind this in the least).

The pluses of ALIEN IN THE FAMILY are the romance, the humor, the believability of Kitty’s various scrapes, and the overall characterization.  It’s a fun book to read (and re-read) because of its fast pace and interesting take on interspecies politics, religious disputes, and of course the wedding and fashion design industry.

But the one, big minus that I couldn’t keep myself from noticing was this — all of these people are way too good-looking for words.  I can believe it of the A-Cs — they’re aliens, so if they look much better than the average human being, I understand that.  I also can believe Kitty’s quite attractive, and of course her friend James the former male model would be expected to be way, way above average.  But why is it that nearly everyone in this book needed to be not just attractive, but stunningly gorgeous, to the point that Raphael would’ve rhapsodized over them had they been among his models?  (Much less Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.?)

I realize that in the science fiction/romance genre, it’s the norm for both the hero and heroine to be outrageously, mind-bogglingly attractive, though the better SF/romances, such as Lois McMaster Bujold’s SHARDS OF HONOR, get away from that somewhat (Cordelia falls in love with Aral because he’s intelligent, not because he’s stunningly gorgeous; it gradually occurs to her that she’d rather look at Aral any day of the week even though others might find him ordinary because he’s the best and finest person she’s ever met).  But it’s really off-putting when not one of the leads, secondary leads, or even tertiary leads is a normal looking person (or less) with stunningly good qualities in other areas, and it does, unfortunately, weaken the overall impact of the story as it’s flat-out impossible that every single person Kitty runs across is just that attractive.

That being said, ALIEN IN THE FAMILY is a fun book to spend a few hours with and is a novel you’ll enjoy if you appreciate the humorous SF/romance genre whatsoever.

Grade: B-plus.

— reviewed by Barb

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