Almost a Cowboy

Dash to the Altar

Private Eyeful

Shane's Last Stand

Duets 53 by Ruth Jean Dale
Do books about animals and animal lovers appeal to you? If so, then Ruth Jean Dale's two stories with interconnecting characters may be purrfect fun.

In Something about Ewe, Thalia Mitchell is back in Shepherd's Pass, Colorado, for a brief visit. She keeps running into local vet Luke Dalton, much to her chagrin. Luke and her older brother were friends, and as a teenager, Thalia decided that Luke was just the person to rid her of her virginity.

Unfortunately, Luke didn't agree with her, and the episode rates high on the Embarrass-O-Meter. Now, however, he's seeing Thalia in a different light and is ready to begin a relationship with her. Thalia knows that her time in Shepherd's Pass is limited and is reluctant to begin anything with Luke.

So the thrust and parry relationship begins.

A background theme involves the development of some prime real estate, with Luke's mother on side and Thalia's on another. Their bickering is more comic relief than an actual harangue. There's also a nifty thread about sheep. Thalia's good friend Emily and Michael, a local lawyer, are supporting characters who add color and interest.

The Purrfect Man is my favorite of the two stories, allowing Emily and Michael from the first story to shine. Emily Patton is a cat lover, which makes it easy for me to like her. She's walking home one evening, enjoying the prospect of snow. Lawyer Michael Forbes, uncomfortable knowing that she's walking alone, grudgingly does what he views as his gentlemanly duty and sees her safely home.

On the way Michael rescues a loveable mutt from a dumpster. The dog is overjoyed to be free and heaps his boundless and overenthusiastic affection on Michael and Emily. She's not comfortable around dogs and doesn't want to have anything to do with the ugly, hyperactive mutt, but Michael won't hear of calling the pound. However, he lives in a no-pet apartment and cajoles Emily into pet-sitting for just a little bit while he looks for a new place to live. What a silver-tongued devil he is.

Essentially a relationship story, The Purrfect Man explores the fine art of compromise and how intelligent, adult people use it to build a relationship. Neither Emily nor Michael has it down to a fine art yet, but they do ultimately get it right.

While I do like Thalia and Luke, Emily and Michael just seem more real. She enjoys the domestic arts, and her cooking is truly finding its way from Michael's stomach to his heart. Being a cat person myself, I can see how Dog's antics could be disconcerting. Ruth Jean Dale does a fine job of convincing the reader that a loveable mutt can be the adhesive that holds and keeps them together.

Animal magnetism makes for a nice change of pace, particularly if secret babies and cowboys are wearing your patience thin.

--Linda Mowery

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