Tuesday, April 17, 2007

HHW: GUYS & DOGS, Elaine Fox

Hometown Hero Week continues with Guys & Dogs, by Elaine Fox. If you've been around here form the beginning, you read my personal blog, or you have read through all of our dishes, you know that Guys & Dogs is one of the very first "reviews" I ever posted. I'm re-posting it here, and adding a bit at the end, because I have more to say about the book now (after a re-read and some experience doing this). Take a look at the original dish:

I just finished Guys & Dogs by Elaine Fox. I've never read any of her books before, though I have noticed them in stores. I actually went to Borders to look for this book last week, but couldn't find it, so they ordered it for me. I really wanted to read it after reading a very short review in my local newspaper. Normally, I'm not big on reviews, because everyone has different feelings about books, and I don't trust very many people out there when it comes to recommendations. I have different standards than most people, and I also hate being told what is 'good' or 'really awful'. Please know that this doesn't apply to my friends, though, and I truly love it when you guys tell me what books I should get. I mean, I TRUST you guys, and besides, you all have great taste.

Anyhoooo... I had to pick up this book because it's supposedly set in my town. The heroine, Megan Rose, has recently moved to Fredericksburg. Basically, reading it was a study in research, to see how much of a place shows up in books, if the author had actually ever been here, if the places were real. See, it just ticks me off when I read a book that is set someplace that I've been, but I can't recognize the place from the description. I mean, if you've ever been to NYC, you know that you can't see the Statue of Liberty from Tiffany, right? You also know that the Crab Cooker is NOT on the beach in Newport Beach, California. It's close to the beach. You can see the beach. They have damn good clam chowder. But on the beach? Not so much. It's a pet peeve of mine, and I wanted to see how close Ms. Fox came to capturing the spirit of my 'Burg.

She did ok. Well, better than ok, really. She made up a few places, and that's to be expected. She made the town seem much smaller than it really is, but not smaller than many of its longtime residents want it to be. But all in all, she did a decent job of letting the reader get a feel for my town, without the town losing anything. Plus, she mentioned Sammy T's, for which she deserves my undying loyalty.

Sammy T's is such a cool place. She calls it "a Fredericksburg institution". And it is. It's also happens to be the end-of-the-mommy-daddy-date-night place for me and Shane. It's our secret escape to the days before the rest of our lives seemed so busy. We discovered it our first year here, almost 6 years ago. It was my mission to go to every restaurant in "Old Town" with my husband. We found Sammy T's after wandering the streets one night. It seemed inviting, so we snuck in. The place was awesome. The waitress was welcoming, the atmosphere was relaxed, and they had beer bottles from all over lining the walls. Plus, they make the best chocolate mousse I've ever had in my life. And Shane swears by their Apple Crisp. The coffee cups are bottomless, and the booths are comfortable. It has since become the place we head to before we head home, if we're out alone. We love it there. So Ms. Fox gets bonus points for adding it to her book.

The story was pretty good too. Megan is a vet, and she's come to town and taken over her dad's animal hospital. She ends up befriending a Brittish billionaire, Sutter Foley, talking him into adopting a dog, and falling in love. Along the way, there are new friends, tabloid reporters, a wacky secretary, and dog-napping charges to keep Megan and Sutter on their toes. It was cute.

This was not a "You must rush out RIGHT NOW and buy this book" like some of the others that I've reviewed. The book did distract me for the morning, and that was bad. But I enjoyed the distraction, so that was good. If you're at the store, and you need something light to read, and you see it, pick it up. It's worth the few hours of your time. It had a good feel, and was pretty enjoyable.

And besides, she mentions Sammy T's. That alone is worth the price I paid for the book!

Well, after reading the book again, then looking at the Dish above, I don't have all that many changes to make. You can still get GUYS & DOGS in many of your bigger book stores, and many of your indie stores may have it as well. I know that you can order it from any of the online retailers. It really is a decent read. I think I enjoyed it more the second time I read it though, just a few weeks ago. I am in a different place in my life now, and the story appealed to me in different ways. Plus, I actually got to meet Elaine (and her charming sister!) in Boonsboro last month, and I think that may have colored my view just a bit.

Don't forget that you have until Friday to tell me why your hometown SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be the setting in a book. Tell me about the nosy neighbors, tell me about the Mom&Pop diner down the street, tell me about the crime, or lack of crime. It doesn't matter to me, but I want to hear all about your hometown. Plus, if you're willing to post the cover pic and blurb from either THE HAUNTING, by Hope Tarr, or BEWARE OF DOUG, by Elaine Fox (I'm posting that one later today!), then you'll get five extra entries. I'll pick a winner at random from all of the entries, and the winner gets signed copies of all three of the HHW books. Best of luck!

Keep turning those pages!



Chari-Dee said...

I read this one when it came out, too. I really enjoyed it, especially the scene in the rain at the dog park, IIRC (which, do I?). I agree, it's a great way to spend a couple hours reading, one of those books that is a nice escape for a while. I really like BOD, too, so I can't wait to read your dish and comment on that one as well :)

And my hometown, a setting for a book? Nah. We're pretty boring around here. Just the slow pace kind of town. We are in a few non-fiction books, and a couple of movies because of The Dalton Gang, LOL It's good to be infamous because of crime. But us good town folk won!

Carol said...

There would be so many great settings in Pittsburgh and many things to write about! We are the home of the Steelers, the Pirates and the Penquins. We have a big medical center and several big colleges that could be the settings for many stories. It's a big cultural center which could provide lots of ideas for stories. We have lots of ethic areas with old homes and beautiful parks that would make a good background for books. The history of this area also would be great for many books. There would be so many things to write about my hometown.