A review by lilith_elinor
Dogs and Goddesses by Lani Diane Rich, Anne Stuart, Jennifer Crusie


I am of two minds with this book. There are things I really liked and others that didn't work so well for me.

Once again, the format with three writers was seamless and well integrated and didn't detract from the story at all. I appreciated the addition of a symbol for each character.

I liked the theme and the feel of the story : ancient Mesopotamia, ancient temples, goddesses and myths, lineages of priestesses, magic and potions... It was cool and felt fresh compared to the ubiquitous vampires and shifters (not that I don't like shifters!). It gave the book a good atmosphere.

And there were dogs, lots of dogs, of course, and I love dogs! But therein lies one of the biggest faults in the book in my opinion, the way the dogs were handled. Look, maybe this is partly my fault, because I am so passionate about dogs. I am typing this with one of my own dogs lying against my leg. But these dogs were so, so unrealistic. Dogs just don't behave that way. Barking is not used at all like speaking for them. This sounds obvious when I type it but the way barking was used as an equivalent to speech in the book was so frustrating for me. It really made me wonder if any of the authors has spent any time around dogs? I can guarantee none of mine would ever behave that way.

I have also attended animal ethology classes, and have an interest in dog behaviour. This book had a great opportunity to explore how a different species might think, and I feel like it wasted it completely. It could have been so interesting! Sometimes watching my dogs and with my background knowledge I attempt to imagine what's going through their minds, and it's so different from ours, much more immediate, impulsive and instinctive and utterly unlike our own view of the world. I would have loved to see the authors had done some research and were honestly attempting to portray this. Instead the dogs were so anthropomorphic they felt like mini humans with a one track mind. It was a big let-down for me.

As for the plot : I feel like the middle dragged. In fact while I was reading it I was thinking that this book was definitely inferior to the Miss Fortunes one, and I was wondering how to grade it. And then the last third picked up, there were more of the myths and the priestesses and the worldbuilding and characters discovering what all this was about, all the elements I liked about this story, and I wanted to grade it higher after all. All things considered this would get 3 and a half stars from me, which isn't bad at all! Still, I feel like if the myths and backstory and magic elements had been more developed the story would have benefited. And if the characters did more! The girls should have had to explore and discover. Maybe this is the fantasy reader in me speaking. I liked those elements of the story and wanted more.

But the romance elements were well handled. I especially liked Sam, he was hilarious and cute and his devotion to Shar was touching. He was a type of hero I hadn't read about before, goofy and over the top but also kind and caring, and completely uninhibited. Shar was an older heroine, 48, and she was confident and funny. It's good to see representation of different ages in romance. As usual, since this was Crusie's couple there were some laugh out loud moments with them.

I also really liked Christopher and Abby, their story was perhaps the one that was the most emotionally engaging for me, I felt Abby's fascination for this guy and her hurt when he treated her coldly.
I would have liked more of an explanation on why he got up and left after he took her virginity, it was never explained why he was such an ass ?

Overall a fun read with some unique elements and solid romance. A bit of a missed opportunity with the dogs.