Beware of Doug
I blame the cover of Elaine Fox’s previous romance, Guys and Dogs, for encouraging me to select her latest. It shows a too cute dog with a “love me (the heart, not the word)” sign around its neck. Well, the next book in the series, Beware of Doug, features a not-so-cute dog on the cover, but that doesn’t matter at all, because the book turns out to be a really funny, enjoyable read.
Lily has tried and tried to gain the attention of Gerald, a lawyer in her father’s firm, but although he’s willing to have coffee with her, he turns her down for anything else. Fed up, she confronts him, and he reveals he doesn’t want to appear that he’s dating the boss’s daughter just to make partner in the firm. His admission wins her favor again, but now Gerald has asked Lily out even though he still hasn’t made partner. Lily wonders about it, but she’s too thrilled to look deeper. However, she is getting tired of his chaste kisses on her cheek at the end of their dates.
Brady is Lily’s new neighbor. He’s moving into her duplex, a house divided into two separate living abodes. Brady left Washington, DC for Fredericksburg, Virginia because he “overgrazed” on the women there. He realized he treated the feelings of the women he dated too casually and that he hurt many of them. Things came to a head when he slept with one woman who became abnormally infatuated with him. She turned out to be mentally unstable and continues to harass him. Brady resolves to go on a “date diet,” opting to be friends with the next woman he’s interested in before taking things physical. He just wishes the attractive Lily didn’t tempt him so.
Lily decides to initiate a passionate kiss with Gerald, who responds by pushing her away and vamoosing from her. Later that night, something frightens her normally fearless dog, Doug. Lily feels spooked herself and is greatly relieved when Brady knocks on her door. They check the house and find nothing suspicious, but then the wind blows the front door open and the lights wink out. Lily flies into Brady’s arms for comfort and perhaps because of the darkness and close proximity, they share a hungry kiss.
Author Elaine Fox has turned out an enjoyable contemporary romance with (I dare to say it) some brilliantly written humor. Even now, the thought of the scene where Lily receives a kiss akin to a vacuum cleaner makes me want to burst into laughter. Lily thinks she knows what she wants, but begins to realize that while her logic is pointing her toward Gerald, her emotions are becoming fixed on Brady. Brady feels strongly attracted to Lily, but wonders if he is good enough for her. She is a literature professor at a college and, while he is the pilot of a billionaire’s private jet, he has never been to college and so has some misplaced intellectual inferiority issues. As the two navigate these seemingly choppy romantic waters, they receive helpful advice and support from family members and friends, all of which are interesting and fun secondary characters.
And then Brady has to get pass Doug, Lily’s French bulldog. He’s a big dog in a little body, so ugly that he’s cute, hates men, and is fierce about protecting his mistress from them. What he does to poor Brady to put the “New Guy” in his place are both appalling and hysterical. But Doug has met his match because Brady is a man’s man who isn’t about to let a furry terror stand in his way of getting closer to Lily.
In a perverse way, Fox does such a good job on this book that her missteps really stick out. I highly doubt that Lily is teaching a freshman literature class with only eleven students; that’s more likely for a senior level course. And while a misunderstanding that Brady has about Doug (he initially thought he is a boyfriend of Lily’s) plays for big laughs, it also seems to make Brady a dimwit, which he’s not supposed to be.
Still, Beware of Doug has many more pluses and few minuses, and I think Fox is going to be a light contemporary romance writer to watch for. She has certainly whetted my appetite for the next heroine with a cute poochie story.