A few months ago Francess Pauli was kind enough to contact me and ask me to review her book Dogs of War: Vertigo. The novel is a sort of romance, time-travel, science fiction, and dog book mash up. I explained to Ms. Pauli that I am not a romance reader, honestly I've never read a romance novel in my life and usually find myself gagging during the romantic parts of any movies and if there are romantic parts in the movies I see they are sub plots because you would have to hog tie me and drag me to a theatre to get me to see a straight romance. Still I recognize that romance is a very popular genre and I knew from talking with Ms. Pauli that this book had many more elements then plan romance so I agreed to read and review it. (Ms. Pauli was also very sweet about my lack of affinity for romance).
The book starts out with the main character, Viv, going to pick up her new puppy Flora, a hairless dog. I loved how excited Viv was about getting her new pup and the importance the book put on their developing relationship. Anyone who reads positive dog training books, such as the works of Patricia McConnell, will recognize some of the language of the texts in Viv's interactions with Flora and in her communication with Flora's breeder. I think its wonderful that a fictional book that is not entirely focused on dog training is communicating current positive training methods, rather then the old school dominance approach.
This is not a dog training book though, and the plot quickly moves in the direction of time travel and romance. Viv finds herself inexplicably flashing back in time to WWI where she is experiencing life through the eyes of a soldier who is working on training dogs to help in combat. At the same time she develops a strong attraction to a local cop. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but there is a demon about who is bent on destroying Viv's budding relationship, and what with the past lives and all its not the first time this has happened. Thankfully dogs and demons don't get on well, and with Flora around Viv has at least some protection. As someone who adores dogs and knows how powerful the dog/human bond is I really appreciate how Pauli portrays Flora's ability to protect Viv.
Romance readers who are also dog lovers and history buffs will really enjoy this book, and I think in particular they will love learning more about the role of dog soldiers in World War I. Sadly, not enough people know about the amazing sacrifices these dogs made.
My favorite part of the book is Pauli's characterizations of "dog people." You can tell she has been involved in the dog show and training world. I particularly liked her development of the character Angel, a somewhat prickly dog breeder. The portrayal was so true to life I feel like I may have met her at one of the dog shows I've attended. All in all I would not hesitate to recommend this book to any dog loving romance fan, or anyone interested in the role dogs played during World War 1. Its the first book in a series so readers will have more to look forward too. The other books in the series will also explore the role of dogs in war so there will be plenty of opportunities to learn even more about canine heroes.