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Thursday, September 18, 2014

TuDawgs by Eden Connor

I'm going to confess that the name of this title threw me off. Big time. I thought, TuDawgs? Do I really want to read about a hero named TuDawgs? Thankfully that wasn't the case and I was ultimately pleased with the story. TuDawgs is actually the name of a hot dog stand at a county fair. The owner of the stand is a man named Tee. Tee is the owner of several TuDawgs stands (think two dogs like two hot dogs) which are very successful in their own right. Tee has a niece named Melody or "Niecy", who is the mistress of the Lieutenant Governor. The lieutenant governor has embezzled money from a charity that Niecy works for, has a drug habit, and gives her, his mistress, gifts like an expensive car. The press drags her and her reputation through the mud, painting her as a woman who has sexually bewitched and lured a married man into an affair and convinced him to commit
criminal acts. Even when evidence finds that she in not guilty of these crimes she is continually hounded and villified by the press. Niecy's uncle has helped pay for some of her legal fees and gives her a job at one of his TuDawgs stands. With her life in ruins, a mother who believes she is guilty, and a desire to pay her uncle back, Neicy takes the job at the fair. Here she meets a man who is all wrong for her, a fair worker that she simply calls "Carnie." Carnie appears to be a bad boy, he's tattooed and carefree and the attraction between the two is immediate and intense. With each passing day Niecy and Carnie get closer and learn a little more about one another and themselves. This story is about her fling with Carnie, the disappearance of a little boy, and so much more. To go deeply into what happens would be to give too much away, so I'll end this part of my review by saying that things aren't always what they appear.

At first, I wasn't certain that I would like Niecy, but her character grew on me. She comes a long way in how she sees herself, and her journey into learning exactly why she has made certain choices was well written. Although the relationship between her and Carnie (who is so sexy in a carefree and wild sort of way) happens a little quickly, I wasn't bothered by it. In fact, quite a bit happens over a relatively short period of time, but it was so well written it didn't feel rushed or incomplete. Carnie, like I previously stated, was carefree, a bit wild and sexy. His tattoos mark him as a bad boy and "trash," but you quickly figure out that he has a great deal of depth. More than what he wants others to believe. Carnie turns out to be highly romantic and also has secrets that aren't that difficult to figure out, but it's still good reading as they are revealed. Neicy's mother is a trip. This woman has no faith in her child, and I couldn't like her character at any part of the story, even when the reader is meant to forgive her. Uncle Tee is a great fun character and I'll be happy to see him return in future books in the series (yes Ms. Connor, please let there be more!). How about letting him find a little love of his own in the future? I also want to comment on the cover, which was attractive and not a copycat of other current covers. Kudos.

Eden Connor has come a long way as a writer of interracial romance. She is, to me, a good example of why some people (writers included) should be given a second chance. The first book that I read by this author had firmly placed her in my "do not read" list. As an African-American woman I was highly offended by that book. I can, and could even when I originally read it, acknowledge that the author wasn't intentionally trying to be offensive and that beneath all the racial wrongness of the book there was a potentially good story.  Why am I bringing this up on my review of TuDawgs? Because Ms. Connor didn't drop the ball and abandon story-lines that featured people of color. She listened to her African-American audience instead of being defensive and heard what the complaints were. Eden came back stronger and wow does it ever show in TuDawgs! I'm bringing this up because I want to applaud the author in her persistence and her growth as a writer who doesn't shy away from including African-American women in the stories that she writes. Eden Connor, I anxiously await your next book and I'm happy to give TuDawgs a 4 out of 5 rating. I'll definitely be reading more from you in the future.

* I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.*

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