Book Reviews: Desperate Housedogs by Sparkle Abbey and Get Fluffy by Sparkle Abbey

These two books were received as a two-book electronic set called The Pampered Pets Mysteries offered to reviewers.

Desperate Housedogs
Sparkle Abbey
Bell Bridge Books, October 2011
ISBN 978-1-61194-050-3
Trade Paperback

In a light-hearted tip of the hat to the excesses of the very rich, Sparkle Abbey (actually two authors writing as one) introduces Caro Lamont, human therapist turned pet behavioral counselor living in Laguna Beach, California, whose clients are pampered pooches with “issues”. Unfortunately for Caro, she becomes a suspect when the owner of a pair of agitated German Shepherds is found murdered soon after she made a house call to try to calm the dogs. The victim lived in a gated community so the list of potential suspects is very limited—or so everyone thinks.

Detective Judd Malone lends a touch of potential romance to the mix but said romance is likely to go nowhere when Caro is incapable of  keeping her nose out of the investigation. Meanwhile, Caro is determined to find out what secrets residents of the community are hiding and doesn’t hesitate to butt in, especially when her best friend is arrested for the murder. (I did wonder, though, why behaviorist Caro doesn’t quickly catch on to the unusual nervousness of so many of her four-legged clients.)

An amusing side story is the ongoing feud between Caro and her cousin, Mel, over a piece of jewelry left to “my favorite granddaughter”. Since both think they were Grandma’s favorite, both claim the brooch and resort to inventive snatch-and-run antics to possess it. This tends to ratchet up the hostilities but, at the same time, Caro and Mel are clearly bound by blood.

Desperate Housedogs is an entertaining romp but there is far too much attention paid to Caro’s and Mel’s backgrounds as Texas beauty pageant queens and the authors make a lot of assumptions about Southerners and Texas while clearly not knowing much about either. Also, solving the mystery is a bit difficult for the reader because critical information doesn’t appear until near the end of the book.  I’m intrigued, though, by the plan for one half of the author team to write each book with one of the cousins featured in each. I’ll be reading the next book to see how things are with Mel.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2012.

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Get Fluffy
Sparkle Abbey
Bell Bridge Books, March 2012
ISBN 978-1-61194-121-0
Trade Paperback

In the second Pampered Pets Mystery, Melinda Langston, owner of a posh doggie boutique in Laguna Beach, California, for those folks with very pampered pooches and too much money on their hands, finds the dead body of a woman a lot of people disliked. Unfortunately, Mel is on that long list of potential suspects and, to make matters worse, the victim has left custody of Fluffy, her Emmy-winning Afghan Hound, to Mel. Fluffy is worth a fortune in her own right and is accustomed to star treatment, such as chauffered drives around town.

Mel has also been accused of having fleas in her shop and, to top things off, she’s embroiled in a grab-it-and-run feud with her cousin, Caro Lamont, over a garish brooch they’re both determined to possess. These two ladies are former beauty pageant queens with Texas society backgrounds and neither can ignore her upbringing even while engaging in breaking and entering with a spot of burglary.

Detective Judd Malone is back but the romantic interest here is Mel’s long-suffering fiance, undercover FBI agent, Grey Donovan. Determined to prevent her good friend from being arrested, she sets out to do her own snooping and soon finds herself in a world of trouble.

Much like the first book in the series, Get Fluffy is amusing and entertaining but there are problems. The authors’ lack of knowledge about Southerners and Texas continues and there is an irritating overabundance of designer namedropping. In addition, there are a multitude of construction errors in the electronic format with grammar and spelling as well as misplaced and incorrect words but it’s possible that a later edition has been corrected. Despite these shortcomings, I enjoyed this nudge at the Real Housewives of Orange County lifestyle and am looking forward to the third book, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2012.