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Monday, July 25, 2011

My Life as a Dog by Cynthia Arsuaga and Mike Arsuaga

My Life as a Dog by Cynthia Arsuaga/Mike Arsuaga
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (203 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Drake Martin—private investigator, ladies’ man, shape-shifter—Yorkshire terrier, named Precious. Enter six-year-old Kady Hartley and life changes. Years later, they meet again. Still a PI, she's FBI. Follow them on an adventure tracking the Russian mob involving human trafficking through the streets of New Orleans and watch the fur fly.

Following Kady to New Orleans where she is on assignment he knows it will be easier to watch over her if he stays in the shadows, keeping his shifter abilities hidden. He hooks up with the local Sufi, head of the shifter family clan, but eventually engages in a bloody battle with the Russians. But, there is another enemy in their midst, one who won't rest until he destroys their chance at everlasting love...

Drake has fallen in love. Can Kady love him for who he really is, or will she leave him upon discovering the truth about him?

Oh boy!

For a cute sounding premise, this story has a lot more depth, drama and action of the gun kind than it lets on. For romantic suspense lovers who enjoy movies like The Godfather and The Untouchables, this book has captured the tradition, with a paranormal twist.

My Life as a Dog isn’t a tale of adorable and silly antics, nor is it a book about werewolves and demons. No, this story is about falling in love puppy style and finding out that human love is a whole lot more complicated. That canines and man love differently much to my delight and interest. That there are shifting chipmunks that defy bone density and some bad guys are even worse under normal human skin.

The external conflict is brutal, despicable and eye-riveting reading. There are traitors and sadistic humans, double-crosses and political pressures. The internal conflict is a bit easier to understand. How do you tell a woman you love her when all she’s ever known is your puppy side? That would have been an interesting conversation but the authors chose to have it as an afterthought, subjugated by the very nasty crisis that almost kills the hero and heroine. I guess running for your life tends to put things into perspective.

There are light moments where Martin, the hero, has to resign himself to his name, Precious. For a virile and handsome man, that was a bit hard to take. Since this story is written in first person point of view via Martin, it was fun getting into his head. The authors did a good job of not losing sight of the first person point of view; I know that can be challenging especially with such a busy book.

Kady grows from child to woman, from innocent to FBI agent. She comes from a loving and solid family background. The love that surrounds her growing up will hold her in good stead in her adult life and in the course of this tale. She’s likeable, and tenacious, smart and yet, she turns into a little girl every time she gets to cuddle her “Precious”. I couldn’t help but like her.

Although this book is marketed under ‘erotic’, I found it tame in that department. When Martin explored his love for Kady in the human physical way, it was satisfying and well written but nothing extreme. Perhaps it comes from the description of the rape that goes on at a mob’s breaking-in house, perhaps it was because Martin, as Precious, saw Kady in all her glory. I don’t know. I couldn’t figure that out. The thing that did frustrate me was the use of five dollar words. The words by themselves weren’t the problem but where they were used - like referring to his member with ‘detumescence’ after having sex. I had to stop and look up the word, and sure, based on my dictionary it was appropriate. But it threw me out of the afterglow of the moment. It made me stop reading the book. I like learning new things but when I do, I prefer it not to be during a book of fiction. On top of that, do guys actually have that word in their brains after a vigorous sexual workout? Most the guys I know don’t even know that word exists much less have it in their top five words to use regarding their sex. This book would have been fine and could stand strong on its own without the aggrandizing.

That being said, I did enjoy myself. The book is entertaining with a lot of suspense because I never knew who to trust and who was going to survive or die. Just when I thought things were going Martin and Kady’s way, the rug was pulled out from under their feet. This really is a page flipping book because so much goes on and the authors kept it progressing at an effective pace. The dialogue was clear. When the Sufi spoke, I knew who was speaking. When it was Linda, again, the authors painted her personality and quirks in a delightful way. I liked many of the secondary characters and thought they added panache to the tale.

My Life as a Dog is a very meaty and intricate dance of storytelling with action and mayhem keeping a reader on his/her toes. The romance has to dodge and weave through a minefield of emotions, revealed truths and subsequent betrayals. Romantic suspense readers are going to find a lot to enjoy when they pick up this book. Even the wrap-up is typical for Martin, because he’s a thorough kind of guy and his happily ever after is just as complete. This book is well worth the time to check out.

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