Guys and Dogs
It’s incredibly disappointing when bad things happen to otherwise good books. Still, there’s enough to like in Guys and Dogs that I find myself pretty much willing to overlook some classic TSTL behavior from a heroine (and a hero, for that matter) who are so not stupid. And, though, I won’t go into detail for fear of spoilers, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t warn you that the least favorite plot device of a whole lot of people (including me) rears its ugly head in the pages of this book.
Veterinarian Megan Rose has moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia, the home of her n’er do well Dad, for both personal and professional reasons: By living with her dad, she hopes to learn more about the father she never really knew and, at the same time, move her career forward by taking over the management of his animal hospital following his retirement. Confronted with the reality of an alcoholic father not above pinching a female butt or two, Megan is distressed to learn just how little her father is respected in the community she now looks to call home.
Far more respected is local celebrity and software gazillionaire Sutter Foley, a reclusive kind of guy who far from relishes the ever-present tabloid interest in his life. When a golden retriever puppy breaks into Megan’s bedroom – she has a doggie door, after all, for her own canine companion – the town’s newest vet gets the chance to meet the most famous resident when she returns the puppy to the address on his collar. Problem is, despite the fact that the address is his, the puppy belonged to a recently fired employee who seems to have abandoned the dog.
Animal lover that she is, Megan soon convinces Sutter to keep the puppy, even if only temporarily while a permanent home is found for the dog. And, though Sutter attempts to maintain his reserve, he’s honest enough to admit to himself that further contact with the attractive vet just might have something to do with his willingness to keep the boisterous puppy in his beautiful antique-filled home.
Both Megan and Sutter are satisfyingly adult characters whom I liked enormously. The author doesn’t trivialize the feelings of a grown daughter facing up to the foibles of her father and, equally, her relationship with the two fellow divorced dog lovers she meets in a dog park added nicely to the story. As for Sutter, in all his gorgeous mega-richness, he’s more of a fantasy figure and less of a real life character than Megan, but, nevertheless, he’s anything but a cartoon and his internal struggles rang true.
Now, here’s what I didn’t like. Supersmart Megan and brilliant Sutter have unprotected sex with nary a word about safety crossing their lips. True, Megan’s been told that getting pregnant would be next to impossible, but – hello! – there are other reasons, dear Megan and Sutter, to think about protection. Secondly, when Megan gets a call from a tabloid reporter, she actually talks to him. Instead of uttering the words “no comment” and quickly hanging up the phone, our ace vet tries to get the reporter off her case by mumbling something about being “just friends” with Sutter. (Note to Megan: Nobody believed Brad and Angelina either.) To make matters worse, she doesn’t tell the understandably tabloid-phobic Sutter about the conversation later and is actually surprised when the whole thing blows up in her face.
As for Sutter, for reasons that never quite made much sense to me, he puts up with an assistant who pretty much redefines the term “worthless idiot”. Supposedly, Sutter employs her as a favor to his sister, but any sibling who would foist this kind of monumental boob on another is secretly committed to his downfall – or maybe still really stewing over some childhood betrayal. Either way, it is an off-kilter note in an otherwise intelligent book.
So, yes, a few bad things happen in an otherwise good novel. Still, despite some less than desirable plot twists and a ditzball character I really wanted to hurt, Guys and Dogs is a book I ultimately enjoyed. Yes, I cringed a time or two, but on the whole, this one gets an enthusiastic – if not overly emphatic – thumbs-up.