Bantam, $6.50, ISBN 0-553-58633-5
Paranormal Romance, 2004
This is the third book in the Miss Piggy series. This is also the book where Miss Piggy could be replaced by any dog, say, the drooling half-senile mutt down the street, and it will still be what it is: a book with too little Miss Piggy and too much of boring, really flat human characters.
After saving the day once again in the last book Diamond in the Ruff, our guardian angel in a corgi form, Miss Piggy, gets rewarded by being forced to go on a canine diet to lose the extra pounds. Because she doesn’t agree with the concept of dieting, she causes so much problems that her newly-wedded owners send her off to the other end of the country into the care of Nell Jordan, who then trains Miss Piggy to be a therapy dog. When an old gentleman whom Miss Piggy makes an acquaintance with during her therapy dog days passes away and leaves twelve million dollars to Miss Piggy, that’s when Miss Piggy is sure that her life is going to be fabulous all the way from that point.
But Nell Jordan is the dullest creature I’ve ever come across in my recent reading of romance novels. She wears the dullest clothes ever, deliberately tries extra hard to be mousy and plain, and when confronted with an annual salary of $200,000 for being Miss Piggy’s guardian, doesn’t want to buy things or party. Nell? Should die. Must die. Nell is also the kind of burst into tears or get distracted while driving until she causes an accident. The latter incident is how our Dan Travis first meets Nell – he saves her when her car does a pirouette on the road.
Dan is the grandson of the man that willed Miss Piggy the money. If you can’t tell by now, he immediately assumes that Nell is the slut that wormed her way into Grandpa’s good graces and tries to get close to her to learn the truth. Nell’s absolute brown cow personality causes him to realize what a wonderful woman she is and so it’s love. As for Nell, she’s too passive and obtuse to know what is going on around her half the time. All she cares about is to use the money to start a dog school that comes with a dog scholarship. I’m not kidding. Who cares about cancer and AIDS research? It’s all about the doggies for this heroine that uses “Shoot!” as a cuss word. Some readers may find Nell’s super-annoying and manufactured “cute but mousy little miss hee-hee” personality adorable, but for me, she is just plain irritating like a mosquito swarm that keep buzzing around my head and just won’t die or go away. Dan is no better – he doesn’t have any discernible personality whatsoever.
Miss Piggy wants to drive these two apart because she fears that Dan is a fortune-hunter after her money, but she doesn’t really play a major role in the story once she inherits the money. It’s all Nell and Dan boring me to death with their Moo and Mono love story, where their personalities combined give pancakes a run for their money when it comes to utter, absolute flatness. To make things more painful for me, Miss Piggy by the end of the book has turned into one of those cutesy and sweet “sassy broad” type found in Touched by an Angel episodes.
Still, Gone to the Dogs won’t be so bad if the human characters that dominate this book aren’t so thoroughly flat and boring. The sad thing is, I have this feeling that Ms Carmichael sincerely believes that Nell is cute and adorable. Then again, the author also labors under this misconception that the dead old man that drove his family away when he was alive and later willed the money to Miss Piggy just to spite the family is an eccentric and lovable old coot. I’m actually on the dead coot’s daughter’s side on this one. If I worked my butt off trying to please a father that can’t be pleased only to learn that he has left money to some stupid dog, I’d be furious as well.
The presence of boring human characters is present in the previous two Miss Piggy books, but in those books, Miss Piggy manages to keep the show running with her antics and personality. This one could use more of her and less of those annoyingly lackluster human characters, because without enough Miss Piggy, this book hasn’t gone to the dogs as much as it is run to the ground by the acute boredom factor it induces in this reader.