Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Humor
In Elsa Watson’s Dog Days, struggling café owner Jessica Sheldon volunteered to be the chairperson of Woofinstock, Madrona’s annual dog festival, to overcome her reputation as “number one dog hater” in her dog crazy Northwestern town. Determined to prove her dog-loving credentials, Jessica rescues Zoe, a stray white German shepherd— and in the process the two are struck by lightning.
Jessica wakes to discover paws where her feet should be, and watches in horror as her body staggers around the town square…. Zoe and Jessica have switched bodies. Learning to live as a dog is difficult enough, but Jessica’s real worry is saving her café from financial ruin. To complicate matters, she’s falling hard for Max, the town veterinarian.
It’s clear that Zoe is thrilled to live life on “human terms,” thoroughly relishing all of the fun and food Woofinstock has to offer. But Zoe is also anxious to use her new human skills to find her missing family—who may not want her back. And Jessica needs to confront a complicated figure from her past before she can move on with her life.
Jessica and Zoe will need to learn from each other to set things right, and possibly find acceptance and love in the bargain.
Jessica Sheldon had a doggy-fueled meltdown during last year’s Woofinstock, turning her into a pariah for the past year. Dog haters just aren’t embraced in Madrona, a town known for their kooky, slightly obsessive love for their canine friends. Jessica has one chance to save her reputation and her precious Glimmerglass café by proving that she really does love dogs, participating in the festival and giving a big speech.
An evening storm sweeps through the town square, catching Jessica alone with Animal Control and a very wet white dog about to be tasered. Before the dog can bark, “don’t tase me, bro,” Jessica jumps in and inadvertently claims Zoe as her own. Max the vet sends the dog home with Jessica until her owner can be found and on the way, lightning literally strikes. When Jessica wakes up, she’s got white paws, a persistent itch between her shoulders and a need to pee on something. Zoe can barely stand up and staggers around like the town drunk, hitting her head on anything that gets in the way.
Nearly everything from this point on is just fun. Jessica manages to steer Zoe to her apartment – she still doesn’t really get that she’s taken over a human body yet. When she wakes up, she’s just delighted. The human world seemed so exotic and powerful to a simple dog, she wants to try everything except this stupid human body doesn’t work right. She can’t smell where the food is or figure out how to get at it. Zoe is happy exploring the world as a human but Jessica can only think about what’s going to happen with Woofinstock, the café and her big crush on Max now that she’s a dog. He may be a vet but their relationship won’t quite advance the way she’d hoped anymore.
Jessica desperately needs to get Zoe focused on things other than drinking out of the toilet and eating other people’s table scraps at the café. She figures out that between the “new” Jessica’s wacky behavior and her “new” smart and cute dog, it’s great advertising for Glimmerglass and the two go wild at Woofinstock. Zoe is hoping to catch the scent of her real owners and find her way back home and Jessica just wants to get through the festival and get her body back.
Of course it’s not that easy for either of them and true love between Jessica and Max isn’t going to follow any straight line. There are lots of moral stories to be learned, some of which are a little heavy-handed and seem out of place in such a light story. The romance between Jessica and Max is sweet rather than passionate (she is a dog in most of the story, after all), but it’s nice. I liked the way Max found things out about her through other people while she was listening as a dog and realizing how her actions had been misinterpreted. I can’t give away things too close to the ending, but their kissing (they finally were going to mate according to Zoe) was very cute.
In every great story, a few not-so-positive things have to happen. This wasn’t that major in the grand scheme of things, but the secondary characters felt flat to me. There were the enemies (Gus and Leisl) and the friends (Max and Naomi) and while they all contributed something that made the story fun, I didn’t think there was much effort to make their characters very deep. Jessica’s partner and friend Kerrie was given more background with her and much more page time but I still didn’t feel a connection there. It’s weird when the heroine of a book has better chemistry with a dog that’s taken over her body than with a friend who’s supposedly known her for years.
My Summary: If you love light contemporary romance with humor and if you love dogs, you’ll really enjoy this. Dog Days is quirky and sweet enough that it can get away with being compared to other body-switching stories and still stand out. The book is a great length at 344 pages, just enough that I spent some enjoyable time with it, getting ready to dive back into my regularly scheduled reading.