Leslie Gadallah's Cat's Pawn is a nice little read: One part political intrigue, a smidgen of social commentary, and three parts space opera.
Set in a not-too-distant future (just add spaceship), the story revolves around the relationship between human linguist Bill Anderson and Orian diplomat Talan. Bill is stranded on Orion because of a heart condition, and would like nothing more than a ticket home to Earth. Talan and his fellow Orians are giant bipedal cats (think kinder, gentler Kzinti), a people, uh, felininity with a Dark Secret.
(hears Astreja K. mutter something under Her breath) Well, 'felininity' is a word now. (twitches whiskers) So there, nyah.
I could have done with a little less politics, mind you, and a little less social commentary, but overall it didn't hurt the story. There are lots of narrow escapes, double-crosses, and explosions. Not an "A" list SF by any stretch of the imagination, but great fun. Definitely worth a look if you spot it at your local second-hand bookstore.