Dogs and Goddesses
by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, & Lani Diane Rich
(St. Martinís, $7.99, PG-13)† ISBN 0-312-94437-3
Shar, Daisy, and Abby are three women in a small Ohio college town whose lives come together at a dog-training class.† When the leader of the class turns out to be a vengeful goddess named Kammani, and the three find out they are descendents of her former priestesses, things get a little weird.† Then their dogs start to talk, three gorgeous men enter the picture, and the reader enters into the world of insanity that is Dogs and Goddesses.† If you can get past the initial premise, itís quite a fun place to be.

† Abby has recently inherited her long-lost grandmotherís coffee shop in Summerville, Ohio.† She and her Newfoundland dog, Bowser, arrive to look it over and almost immediately are approached by Professor Christopher Mackenzie, who needs some cookies baked for a faculty event.† While pondering how to deal with the attractive but uptight professor, Abby picks up a yellow flyer advertising the Kammani Gula Dog Obedience Course, which guarantees that attendees will become a ďGoddess to Your DogĒ.

Meanwhile, Daisy, a web code writer, gets stuck looking after her flaky motherís neurotic Jack Russell terrier, Bailey.† She ends up literally slapped in the face by a yellow flyer, and after about thirty seconds of dealing with Baileyís hyperactive behavior, decides that a dog-training course might be a good idea.

Finally, thereís Shar, a history professor at Summerville College.† Shar is in her late forties, surrounded by idiots (both student and faculty), and reluctantly trying to finish her grandmotherís research on the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Kammani Gula, whom nobody has ever heard of.† When a dog-training flyer lands in her lap, the coincidence canít be missed.

The dog-training class is just an excuse for Kammani to gather together her potential priestesses.† Convinced that sheís been called back to life so millions can worship her, the goddess has an eager minion in Mina, one of the other women. Two cheerful college girls named Bun and Gen and a middle-aged secretary named Vera round out the group. Vain and imperious, Kammani wields a great deal of power, and unless Shar, Abby, and Daisy can figure out how to get rid of her for good, the world might be in big trouble.

On top of it all, Abby is attracted to the possibly-not-so-stuffy professor, Daisy finds herself falling for a dog trainer named Noah, and Shar is astonished when a bas-relief of a Mesopotamian god comes to life in her bedroom.† The god, Samu-la-el, is a former king who was sacrificed by Kammani, and heís not eager to repeat the experience, especially after a taste of life in the 21st century.† Then the individual powers of the three friends become apparent, and the story really takes off.

Dogs and Goddesses takes a while to get going, but itís worth the effort to stick with it.† With three romances to occupy the story, none of the characterizations are deep; in fact, we never get into the heads of the men at all.† All three women are entertaining.† Abby, a virgin whose newfound powers manifest themselves through the cookies she bakes, is appealing in her longing for/irritation with the geeky math professor she canít get out of her mind.† Sharís romance with Sam is a bit more mature, as might be expected from a forty-something woman and a man whose been around for four thousand years, but this leads to some of the funniest lines in the book.† Iím betting thereís a lot of Jennnifer Crusieís writing in there.† Daisyís romance with Noah is the least developed of the three, though itís hardly a detriment.

The initial premise of the talking dogs was iffy, and the main reason I put the book down after the first two chapters and didnít pick it up again for a month.† But Iím glad I did.† Dogs and Goddesses isnít your usual romance, but if you are at all a fan of the fantasy/paranormal genre and you like a large dose of comedy in your stories, itís a great fit. Sharp, funny, and fast-paced, this is one book that will definitely brighten up a winter day.†

--Cathy Sova

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