by Cynthia Chow
This week we have a review of Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything by Nancy Martin, along with a fun dog related post by Nancy Martin. Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.
Miss Inherits Everything by Nancy Martin
Review by Cynthia Chow
For Ohio native Sunny McKillip, Mule Stop might as well be its own country, if not its own planet. After her mother’s recent death, Sunny moved to the small Texas town to be the administrative assistant to a dean of the local college. His immediate firing cut her position as well, but fate intervened when socialite and community powerhouse Honeybelle Hensley recruited Sunny as her own personal secretary. It was a position that soon evolved into being the personal assistant to Honeybelle’s beloved Texas cattle cur Miss Ruffles, a terrifying dog feared by most of Mule Stop.
When Honeybelle dies following her spirit-breaking resignation as the president of the garden club, no one is more surprised than Sunny to find herself the guardian of Miss Ruffles, with a very intimidating caveat. Sunny, along with Honeybelle’s cook and butler, must ensure Miss Ruffles’s good health and happiness in Honeybelle’s home for one year, after which they will each receive a one-million dollar inheritance. Should they fail, Honeybelle’s family and her other heirs all immediately receive their own share of Honeybelle’s estate.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is thrilled with this news, and when it spreads throughout the town Sunny finds herself the target of many suspicious glances. No one seems more wary than Ten Tennyson, the cowboy attorney and grandson of Honeybelle’s own lawyer. Sunny herself refuses to believe in the alarming odd incidents and coincidences that led up to Honeybelle’s death, especially with Honeybelle’s angry family, a college dean hungry for a new football stadium, and those waiting for their debts to be cleared, all hoping for Miss Ruffles’s early demise. When the worst happens and Miss Ruffles is kidnapped, Sunny scrambles to pull together clues to recover a pooch that few can tolerate but that’s worth a fortune.
Nancy Martin, author of the bestselling Blackbird Sisters Mystery and Roxy Abruzzo Mystery series, excels at exposing the elite and entitled segments of a small society. At its core, though, this is a novel of families, and how what one thinks is best for a loved one is not always what is right. The author delights in playing with the veneer of politeness that hides the ruthlessness of the most well-mannered, where “Bless her heart” is a lethal remark with layers of meaning.
As one of the few voices of reason, Sunny’s witty sense of humor thoroughly entertains as she is drawn into the world of gun-toting Texans, where tail-gating is elevated to an art form and gardening roses a matter of life and death. The true reward for readers will be watching Sunny grow and come to terms with the loss of her beloved mother figures, and eventually ready herself to start a new path in life. Even readers who believe that they have figured out the mystery will be surprised by several twists that expand on seemingly predictable personalities.
What is truly remarkable about this novel is how nearly every character is shown to have a vulnerability that justifies his or her actions, culminating in an ending sure to leave readers feeling deeply satisfied and wishing for more.
No Bad Dogs
By Nancy Martin
I know, I know—there are no bad dogs, only bad owners. If that’s the case, I’m a really bad owner. In our family, we’ve had a succession of dogs who weren’t exactly the best examples of their species, and it’s totally my fault. I tend to pick puppies that have attention issues or hyperactivity, the clown who makes me laugh or the one who chases her tail until she’s dizzy—the puppy who needs a loving home, in other words, which we gave in abundance. But I was a terrible trainer.
Nittany was our first—the puppy you get when you’re first married, “to see if we can handle kids.” Nittany was the runt of my mother-in-law’s first attempt at becoming a professional breeder of Golden Retrievers, and he was everything a Golden isn’t supposed to be. He was excitable, energetic, not a good retriever. He didn’t like water, but he loved mud. When he was a puppy, I once came home to an empty house. I couldn’t find him anywhere. It took me twenty minutes to discover he had crawled under a bed and dug his way up into the box spring, where he’d made a kind of nest for himself. Except he couldn’t get out. I had to cut the box spring apart with a saw to release him. He was delighted with himself. We had to barricade all the beds after that.
If you came to visit my house, Nittany’s nose would be in your crotch in no time, his slobber on your clothes, his tail wagging so hard it could knock your handbag off your arm. If you sat down with a cup of tea and accidentally caught his eye, he’d climb into your lap, drool all over you and leave hair all on your clothes. Yes, his name was soon shortened to Nitwit. He could understand nearly 100 words, but he couldn’t calm down long enough to obey many commands. The cleverest command we did manage to teach him was, “Go away!” to get him to leave guests alone for a minute. He was sweet, but I didn’t have the training skills to make him behave.
To tell the truth, I love bad dogs. Give me a dog with personality any day. One who obediently stays off the furniture, doesn’t bark at the mailman, never knocks over the water bowl? That’s the dog that wouldn’t fit in at my house. Have you seen the dog-shaming website? http://dog-shame.com/ These are dogs after my true heart!
Dinah was our second bad dog. (In between came Dolly, who was never bad. Except she could not be commanded to do anything. Dolly could be invited to obey, but she had a mind of her own. Dalmatians are like that.) Dinah loved our big, fenced, wooded lot, and she spent most of her time—winter or summer—chasing chipmunks, digging holes, excavating rocks. Only once did she jump from the pool deck to the woods below (a fifteen-foot drop, and yes, she broke her shoulder doing that maneuver!) to chase a deer.
The thing I like most about Dalmatians is that they don’t pant in your face. They’re bog dogs, but they’re dainty that way. Dinah rarely panted, except when she was in full hunting mode. One day from one of her guarding stations at the front door she spotted an intruding ground hog in our front yard and barked until I—unwisely—opened the door to let her chase it. But groundhogs don’t allow themselves to be chased. This one latched onto Dinah’s chest and wouldn’t let go until I went after it with a broom. Once she was released, Dinah and I ran that groundhog into the woods where it belonged, whereupon she jumped up on me and knocked me into the flowerbed. She panted into my face, obviously delighted with our teamwork. There was also the time she tried to chase a squirrel across our pool cover—except it wasn’t strong enough to hold her. She couldn’t get out of the pool either and floundered around there, nearly drowning, until finally I noticed and plunged into the water (in February!) to play lifeguard.
Yes, I do love bad dogs, but it took a while for me to decide I should write a book in tribute of them. “Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything” is about the Texas cattle cur who inherits a fortune from her flamboyant Texas lady owner. Miss Ruffles is every bad dog I’ve ever owned—lousy at obedience, but big on love.
Do you have a bad dog story to tell me? I’d love to hear it!
Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything is a cozy mystery set in the fictional Texas town of Mule Stop—so hot and miserable that the mules died and left the pioneers there to build a town. Now it’s the home of the fictional University of the Alamo, a college surrounded by hot plains and, okay, hot cowboys. When Miss Ruffles, the millionaire dog, gets kidnapped, it’s up to Sunny McKillip, the dog sitter, to rescue her. If you like romping fun mysteries with bad dogs and, in this case, an even badder bucking bull, this one’s for you!
To enter to win a copy of Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “ruffles,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 12, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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