Diamond in the Ruff
Do you like stories with animals? How about stories with a little paranormal element? Stories with likable, honorable characters? If so, Emily Carmichael’s Diamond in the Ruff should be right up your alley.
Joey DeMato is a successful professional who runs her own wedding planning business. She’s highly motivated, organized, and very busy. So busy, in fact, that she doesn’t have much of a social life. Then she meets cocky police detective Ben Ramsay and right away feels an attraction to him. Trouble is, Ben happens to be engaged to Alicia, an old college friend of Joey’s, and Alicia has just hired Joey to plan her wedding. So what’s a girl to do?
What Joey doesn’t know is that she has a little advantage, a small guardian angel. Lydia Keane has been assigned to the case. Lydia was once a beautiful and lively but very selfish woman who was murdered a while back. When she got to the afterlife, she found out that she had a great deal of atoning to do for her mistakes on earth. She’s now in the form of a Welsh corgi named Piggy, and she’s supposed to do anything she can to make sure what’s supposed to happen for Joey does. But this is a little hard when she can’t talk and she’s stuck in such an unimpressive doggy package.
One thing that I liked about this book was how honorable the characters were. Unlike the characters in Spin Cycle, Joey and Ben act honorably from the first despite their attraction to each other. They know fairly soon that there is something strong between them, and they also know that they make for a better couple than Ben and Alicia would But this knowledge does not propel them into bed. They both care for and respect Alicia too much to do that to her. Ben also has a good deal of integrity as a parent. What he expects of his daughter Tess, he also expects of himself. I admired that about him.
But this great strength, the characters’ integrity, was also a contributing factor to the book’s greatest weakness: its lack of real passion. Since Ben is engaged to Alicia and refuses to act dishonorably, he distances himself from Joey emotionally, and she does the same. They are thrown together quite a bit, but they are both fighting their attraction so hard that little real heat seems to emerge from their times together. And the ending, as a result, feels a little rushed and tidy. I felt like these two were a good match, but I also felt that they didn’t actually know each other enough to rush into the kind of commitment they did.
Finally, the dog angle was both a plus and a minus here. The way Carmichael writes Lydia’s point of view is really quite amusing. Lydia is consistently sarcastic and completely self-centered. I got the feeling that her atonement was going to take a very long time. But after a while her mindset got to be a little repetitive. What was initially very funny got to be less so over the course of the book. I was never annoyed by it, but it stopped holding my attention toward the end of the story.
Diamond in the Ruff is the sequel to Finding Mr. Right, but it stands on its own just fine. I had a good time reading it, even though it wasn’t the most romantic thing I’ve read all year. The characters were the kind of people I’d like to know, and watching them fight their inclinations was enjoyable. It was an ensemble book, rather than a “couple” book, but it was also a fine way to pass the time and I do recommend it.