Dogs and Goddessesby Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, Lani Diane Rich
Three single women are about to learn that, when it comes to love,
you really can teach an old dog new tricks…
Abby has just arrived in Summerville, Ohio, with her placid Newfoundland, Bowser. She’s reluctantly inherited her grandmother’s coffee shop, but it’s not long before she’s brewing up/b>/i>/b>/b>/i>… See more details below
Three single women are about to learn that, when it comes to love,
you really can teach an old dog new tricks…
Abby has just arrived in Summerville, Ohio, with her placid Newfoundland, Bowser. She’s reluctantly inherited her grandmother’s coffee shop, but it’s not long before she’s brewing up trouble in the form of magical baked goods and steaming up her life with an exasperating college professor.
“Stuart is a consummate mistress of her craft.”—Romantic Times Bookreviews
And then there’s Daisy, a web code writer, and her hyperactive Jack Russell, Bailey. Her tightly-wound world spins out of control when she discovers the chaos within and meets a mysterious dog trainer whose teaching style is definitely hands-on.
“Rich has a knack for creating memorable characters.”—Romance Reader at Heart
Finally there’s Shar, professor of ancient history at Summerville College, who wakes up one morning to find her neurotic dachshund, Wolfie, snarling at an implacable god sitting at her kitchen table, the first thing in her life she hasn’t been able to footnote.
“Crusie is a master of fast-paced witty dialogue.”—Seattle Times
What on earth is going on in this unearthly little town? It’s up to Abby, Daisy, and Shar to find out before an ancient goddess takes over Southern Ohio, and they all end up in the apocalyptic doghouse…
Don't be put off by the talking dogs; clever (human) dialogue and sassy heroines make this joint novel an amusing standout. After meeting at a local dog obedience-training session, coffeehouse owner Abby, Web writer Daisy and history professor Shar become fast friends. They also discover that the dog trainer is the Mesopotamian goddess Kammani, determined to rule the world like she did 4,000 years ago. Chosen as Kammani's priestesses, Abby, Daisy and Shar aren't quite ready to support the goddess's destructive goals, even when she grants them magical powers including the ability to understand their dogs. Established authors Crusie (Charlie All Night), Stuart (Fire and Ice) and Rich (Wish You Were Here) turn this quirky charmer into an enjoyable paranormal romp that's definitely not just for dog lovers. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- St. Martin's Press
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Read an Excerpt
Dogs and Goddesses
By Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, Lani Diane Rich
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Jennifer Crusie Smith, Anne Stuart, and Lani Diane Rich
All rights reserved.
Abby Richmond's ancient two-toned station wagon shuddered to a stop in front of the dust-covered windows of the Temple Street Coffeehouse, and the Newfoundland beside her sat up and barked.
"Bowser, I think we're in trouble," Abby said, peering through her windshield at the old building. "It doesn't look like much of an inheritance."
Bowser tried to lumber to his feet, but even in a full-sized station wagon there wasn't enough room for a full-sized Newfie, so he settled back down again, looking up at her with his dark, gentle eyes.
"Yeah, I know; you need a patch of grass and something to eat," Abby said. "The lawyer said there's a place to park in the alley around back. Let's reconnoiter."
Bowser replied with the low raspy sound that meant agreement. Bowser tended to be a very agreeable dog. Abby pulled back out into the sparse traffic on Temple Street, managing to just miss clipping a Lexus, and drove around the corner in search of the elusive alleyway that belonged to the building. She pulled in and parked, then let Bowser out.
There was a small, brick-walled courtyard in back, and Bowser rushed toward the thick green grass with a muffled yelp of gratitude as Abby wandered over to the stone bench. The only piece of litter was a yellow flyer, and she picked it up and shoved it in her pocket before she sat down. The smell of honeysuckle was in the air, and the June sun was bright overhead. She'd always thought of Ohio as flat and brown compared to the lush ripeness of landscaped Southern California, but this courtyard was an oasis of greenery.
She looked up at the back of the three-story building she'd inherited. It looked in decent enough shape, and her mother, the Real Estate Goddess of Escondido, would doubtless be able to sell it quickly and profitably. If Abby decided to let her.
"What do you think, Bowser?" she said. "Do I hand this over to my mother ...?" Her cell phone rang, the booming strains of the "Ride of the Valkyries."
"Speak of the devil." She flipped open her cell phone with a sigh of resignation. "Yes, Mom."
"Have you reached that godforsaken town yet?" Amanda Richmond demanded.
"I suppose it's as bleak and scrubby as it always was."
"It's actually very pretty around here," Abby said. "How long has it been since you've been here?"
"Thirty years, and I'm never coming back. Does the building look like it's worth anything? I've got connections in the Ohio real estate market, and the sooner we move on it, the better."
Abby looked up at the building. The back was painted lavender, the bricked courtyard was lush and overgrown, and a wide set of stairs led up to the French doors. The roof looked solid, the windows a little dusty. All in all, it looked like home.
"I haven't decided yet. I may want to stay here for a while."
"What?" her mother shrieked. "Don't be ridiculous — you're a California girl. You don't belong in the flatlands."
"It's actually quite hilly," Abby pointed out. "And I'm not sure where I belong."
Her mother's silence was evocative of her disapproval, but Amanda Richmond hadn't become the Real Estate Goddess of Escondido without learning how to play her clients. And her daughter. "Someone's been trying to get in touch with you," she said abruptly. "Some moldy old professor. Apparently my mother promised him cookies, or something equally ridiculous. I didn't want to give him your cell phone number, but he was quite insistent. She was probably sleeping with him."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Abby said. "That's my grandmother you're talking about!"
"That's my mother I'm talking about," Amanda said, her voice tart. "And you hadn't seen her in more than fifteen years. Neither had I, for that matter, but I doubt she'd have changed her spots before she died. What are you going to do about the building?"
"Live here," Abby said, defiant.
Another moment of angry silence. "Very well. Professor Mackenzie will be looking for you. Be prepared to deal."
Only her mother could slam down a cell phone, Abby thought, pushing up from the bench. Bowser ambled over to her, his plumy tail swishing back and forth. "Amanda's flipped, Bowser," she said.
Bowser, of course, said nothing.
"Let's go check out my inheritance."
The first floor of the building was like a railroad flat — two long and narrow rooms. The French doors opened up into a kitchen, with a wide island in the middle, a series of commercial ovens and a storeroom on one side, semi-enclosed stairs on the other. The front room was dusty, chairs piled haphazardly around the room, the afternoon light filtering through the fly-specked storefront windows, but even with the musty, closed-up scent, she could still find the faint trace of cinnamon and coffee on the air.
"I guess I shouldn't have been so quick to annoy my mother," Abby said, looking around her before heading back into the kitchen. That part of the building was at least relatively dust-free, and she tried to imagine her grandmother moving around the room, an apron tied around her waist. Maybe something like Chocolat with Johnny Depp lurking around the corner.
Except she could barely remember what Granny B looked like.
According to the lawyers, two of the three apartments upstairs were empty; she ought to grab her duffel bag and find out where she was sleeping. She turned to the stairs at the back, then let out a shriek.
Someone stood there, silhouetted against the bright sunlight, and as Bowser made an encouraging woof, she wondered whether it was the ghost of Granny B. Then he moved into the room, and he most definitely was a far cry from a little old lady. He was tall, lean, and much too good-looking to be showing up at her back door.
"I assume you're Abby Richmond?" the man said in a cranky voice.
Damn, he was pretty. In a disagreeable, uptight sort of way. He was wearing a suit — Abby hated men in suits. He was in his late twenties, maybe early thirties, with dark blond hair pushed back from a too-clever face. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, and he was looking at her like she'd shot his dog. Except he wasn't the type to have a dog.
"Who's asking?" she replied, mildly enough.
"Professor Christopher Mackenzie," he said. "I've been trying to track you down for days."
"You have? I just arrived here a few minutes ago."
"I know. Your mother told me I'd find you here."
Abby managed a tight smile. "How helpful of her. What can I do for you, Professor?"
"Your grandmother contracted to make cookies for a reception I'm holding tomorrow for the math department. I'd like to know whether you're going to fulfill that contract or if I need to make other arrangements."
Abby glanced around her. "I think you'll be making other arrangements," she said. "I just arrived, and I don't bake."
"Fine. In which case you can return my deposit."
"You didn't give me any money."
"You're your grandmother's heir. Your mother assured me you'd either return the deposit or fulfill Bea's obligations."
"My mother knows I don't have a red cent to my name."
"Then you'd better learn to bake."
Why are the gorgeous ones always assholes? Abby thought with a sigh. "What do you need and when?"
He didn't look particularly pleased that he'd gotten his way. "Six dozen cookies for tomorrow evening."
She'd made Christmas cookies in the past, hadn't she? Burned half of them, but she could be more careful. "Where should I deliver them?"
"I'll pick them up. And don't even think of skipping town."
Abby made a derisive noise. "I'm not going on the lam over a few cookies, Professor."
"Your mother said you were unreliable."
"My mother ... ," Abby began heatedly, and Bowser moved closer, leaning against her leg. "My mother," she said in a calmer voice, "doesn't know anything about me. You'll get your cookies, Professor."
She waited until he closed the French doors behind him and disappeared down the wide back steps. "What an asshole," she said under her breath. She followed him, determined to lock the back door before she had any more unwanted visitors, and her eye caught the yellow sheet of paper on the floor.
She picked it up.
BE A GODDESS TO YOUR DOG!
The Kammani Gula Dog Obedience Course
This two-week immersion course will teach you to communicate with your dog while commanding complete obedience. Learn the ways of the goddess Kammani Gula, whose sacred animal was the dog, under the tutelage of Noah Wortham, anointed Kammani Gula instructor.
"Well, one thing's clear, Bowser," she said, crumpling up the paper. "We don't need no stinkin' classes."
Bowser gave a small bark of assent, and Abby rubbed his massive head. "Let's go shopping, baby. It's Slim-Fast for me and ground round for you."
She opened the back door, and a sheet of yellow paper came swirling in on a breeze in the otherwise still afternoon, smacking her in the face like flypaper. She pulled it away and stared at it. Another dog-training flyer.
"Persistent, aren't they?" she said to Bowser. "What do you say, pal? You think we ought to go to this dog-training class so I can learn to be a goddess? Maybe see if anyone there happened to know Granny B? We can always go shopping afterward."
Bowser arfed, agreeable as ever.
"Okay," she said. "Dogs and goddesses it is."
And they headed back out into the afternoon sun.
Daisy Harris watched as seventeen pounds of Jack Russell terror leapt into the air, snapped at either a hallucination or a wish, and landed with a circus performer's Ta-da! flourish on the manicured grass of the Summerville College campus.
"That's not normal," she said.
Bailey looked up at her, panting, as if to say, Want me to do it again?
"No," Daisy said.
He'd been a lot cuter when he was living with her mother.
Bailey darted forward, dragging her a good three feet and seriously aggravating her tiny person's complex. She dug in her heels and pulled back, but then he decided to run back to her, taking away the opposing force she was straining against. Daisy landed on the grass with a thunk just as Bailey charged her, licking her face over and over again with sloppy, stinky dog tongue.
"Stop ... just — agh!" she sputtered, pushing at him.
"'No' means 'no,' Bailey!"
Bailey hopped back, panting, then jumped up in the air again, did a half twirl, and landed at Daisy's feet.
"Peg taught you that, didn't she?" Daisy asked, then heard a crackle under her and looked to see a piece of bright yellow paper, some kind of flyer —
Her mother's voice trilled from behind her, and Bailey barked and strained against the leash, a little bundle of excitement and mayhem. Daisy pushed up off the grass just as her mother approached, a tiny, platinum blond Jackie O, right down to the scoop neckline and the pillbox hat.
"Oh, no," Peg said, reaching her hands out toward the rear of Daisy's khaki capris. "Your pants."
"Hands off my ass, Peg," Daisy said, shooing her mother away.
"Hi, Bailey!" Peg knelt over Bailey, and Daisy felt a flood of relief run through her. It was over. Two days of incessant barking and chewed-up shoes and her things knocked out of place and picking up poop with little plastic Baggies ... over. It was almost too good to be true.
"Okay, then. See ya," Daisy said, then turned to walk away.
"Wait; wait." Peg straightened and grabbed Daisy's arm. Daisy sighed; she should have known it wouldn't be that easy. Christians in ancient Rome had escaped lions with less trouble than Daisy had escaping her mother.
"This is just a test visitation to see if the allergies are gone," Peg said. "It's going to take me a few minutes to ..." She eyed Daisy. "To know for sure."
"No, I've handed over custody. I'm done. I don't know how you suddenly get allergies to a dog you've had for three years and I don't care, but —"
"Are you implying that I lied to get free dogsitting out of you?" Peg's eyes went wide with innocence and just a touch of indignation.
"Are you implying there isn't precedent for that suspicion?" Daisy said.
Peg's eyes went back to normal and she shrugged. "Fair enough."
How did I come from this woman? "Look, you said two days. You said the doctor had some kind of shots for you and ..."
"Well, the doctor —"
"You said two days." Daisy tried to control her breathing as the panic sharpened. "It's not that Bailey isn't ..." She stared down at the tiny dog that had torn up her life for the past forty-eight hours. "... kinda cute, kinda, but I don't have room in my life for your dog. I have a CD rack to re-alphabetize thanks to him, and some couch pillows that will never be the same, and —"
"I thought you two would have fun," Peg said. "I thought you'd enjoy having a roommate for a while."
"He's not a roommate," Daisy said. "He's a dog. Roommates don't shed or, ideally, poop in your bathtub. Which reminds me: have you ever thought about obedience —"
"Let's discuss it some more." Peg grabbed Daisy's elbow. "We can sit down ..." Peg scanned the campus, then pointed to the huge, stone-step temple where Summerville College housed the history department. "There."
She pulled on Daisy's arm, but Daisy resisted. A lifetime in Summerville, four years attending college there, and another ten working in the humanities department, and Daisy had managed to never set foot in that temple. It was about half the size of a city block at the base, and clicked upward in diminishing squares for three formidable stories, looking like a tremendous, ugly stone wedding cake. It was a notable claim to fame for Summerville College to have a genuine Mesopotamian ziggurat in the center of campus, sure, but the thing wasn't exactly welcoming.
"Let's just sit down on the grass," Daisy said. "I'm already stained."
"Don't be silly," Peg said, pulling on Daisy with a force that belied her miniature stature.
Bailey barked and danced at their heels as they walked. Peg didn't seem to mind her leash arm being yanked around from side to side; just watching it drove Daisy crazy.
"You know," Daisy said, "you really should think about training —"
"Tell me," Peg said, looping her arm through Daisy's. "What's new? Anything?"
"New?" Daisy sighed. "Let's see. Scratches in my wood floors, those are new. My inability to sleep through the night because Bailey barks at the door, that's new. Oh, and let me tell you about the newly violated ficus plant at the office —"
Peg stopped walking, shooting a horrified look at Daisy. "Barking at the door? Why didn't you let him sleep on the bed with you?"
Daisy stopped walking about fifteen feet from the temple steps and turned on her mother. "Sleep with me? Are you insane?"
Peg shook her head. "No. It's nice. He crawls down under the sheets and keeps your toes warm."
Ugh, Daisy thought. "Look, I'm not a dog person, okay? I mean, Bailey's ..." She shot a look at him as he panted happily up at her, and felt an odd sense of guilt. "... fine, for a dog, but I don't like animals. I like a clean apartment and clothes without dog hair on them and —"
Just then, something flew at her, smacking her gently in the side of the face. She grabbed at it and pulled it back — another yellow flyer. She glanced around, looking for a student with an armful who needed a serious talking to, but there was no one. Daisy glanced at the paper and started reading:
BE A GODDESS TO YOUR DOG!
The Kammani Gula Dog Obedience Course
"'Be a Goddess to Your Dog!'?" she said. "Now I've seen everything. Although it wouldn't be a bad idea for you and —"
"Be a what?" Peg snatched the flyer away from Daisy and read it, her eyes widening, and then ...
... she sneezed.
"Oh, no," Daisy said, backing away. "You go train that dog and be a goddess; I have CDs to alphabetize."
"Ah-chooo!" This one hit so loudly that Daisy could hear it echoing off the stone of the temple.
"Ah, crap," Daisy said.
Peg reached into her tiny purse, withdrew one of her classic monogrammed handkerchiefs, and blew her nose so loudly that Bailey barked twice and hopped up in the air, ostensibly to check on her.
"Oh, no." Peg held out her leash hand to Daisy.
" 'Oh, no,' is right," Daisy said. "As in 'no.' No way, no how, no —"
Excerpted from Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart, Lani Diane Rich. Copyright © 2009 Jennifer Crusie Smith, Anne Stuart, and Lani Diane Rich. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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