Today, I am pleased and honored to bring you Mr. Right and Other Mongrels, a cute contemporary romance by Australian author, Monique McDonell. Like the protagonist Allegra (Ally) in the novel, Monique is also scared of dogs and she talks about that in her guest blog. I also received a review copy for free, thanks to CBLS promotions and I will share what I thought of the book. Lastly, a giveaway! So hop on to this blog tour and enjoy your stop here at whoopeeyoo!
Mr. Right and Other Mongrels
by Monique McDonell
Published by Redfish Publishing
Sweet Contemporary Romance (Clean, Comedy)
Blissfully happy in her own universe Allegra (Ally) Johnson is the sweet best friend everyone wants to have. Quietly and independently wealthy she runs a charming second-hand bookshop in beachside Manly. Heck, sometimes she even goes downstairs from her flat to run the shop in her Chinese silk pyjamas. It sounds like bliss. But is it enough?
When dog-phobic Allegra is rescued from an exuberant canine by the chivalrous Teddy Green, Australia’s hottest TV celebrity and garden make-over guru, her life begins to change. Dramatically!
Unaware of Teddy’s fame Allegra finds herself falling for him, despite her best attempts to resist his charm. Supported by her eccentric family and her fabulous gay friend Justin, Allegra embarks on an on-again off-again romance with Teddy, complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, fashionista Louisa and her own narcissistic hippy mother Moonbeam.
Will Ally be able to overcome her insecurities and find happiness with this possible Mr Right or will Teddy’s celebrity lifestyle prove to be too much? Mr Right and Other Mongrels is a light-hearted story about how one chance encounter can change your life.
My mother however was going nowhere. Worse than that she kept leering at Teddy, which simply made me uncomfortable.
I really didn’t know what was going on with Teddy and me but I surely didn’t want anything going on between Teddy and Moonbeam.
“Teddy, do you want to help me get some dinner together?”
“No Allegra, he can stay and keep me company.” She was good.
“How about we both help Ally out.” What a guy.
So we piled into my small kitchen with her standing a bit too close to Teddy for my liking.
“So what are we having?”
“Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and a salad.”
“Cool, what can I do?’
I had already cooked the potatoes so I put Teddy to work mashing them. And I pulled down a jar of sauce I had made from organic tomatoes earlier in the summer and put it on to simmer.
Teddy looked at me quizzically “You jar your own sauce?”
“Uhmm yes”. I was always kind of embarrassed by my love of cooking. It makes me seem like a possessed potential housewife or something. I mean I know you don’t go to a club and discuss organic cooking; it doesn’t get the men flocking. Ultimately though I just like to cook and eat well.
“Well, Allegra, that being the case I may have to marry you.” He winked just so I’d know he wasn’t serious. “I’ll grow the veggies and you can make the sauce.”
I noticed Moonbeams dark eyes got a tad darker and flashed a bit wilder.
“I don’t know that there is room for a veggie patch in my flat or your designer terrace either for that matter,” I laughed.
“Well, we’ll just have to move to the country.”
“Sorry can’t leave the shop.”
“I’m heartbroken,” he feigned distress as he mashed. “I offer to give up my lucrative TV career and to grow veggies and marry you and you won’t leave the bookshop!”
First of all there is something you need to know about me. Dogs and I do not get along.
It’s not that I don’t like them, exactly. In theory, I love them.
In reality I have a full-blown hysterical dog phobia.
Ok now. Wait. Don’t just decide you dislike me based on that.
I know how dog people are. They simply don’t like people who don’t like dogs, but honestly it just isn’t that simple. That is like saying you hate all Mormons when that’s not possible and really how many do you actually know?
The thing is when I was a child there were a few dog-related incidents that led to the dogs charging at me with teeth bared. Once when I was about eight, I was forced to throw myself in front of a two-year-old and offer my leg as a snack to a Doberman, so that the dog wouldn’t rip into the smaller child’s face. Now objectively I know that was just bad luck and I came across the wrong dog. But honestly, it wasn’t just the once…anyway, more about that later.
It’s because of the dog phobia that I first met Edward Green, also known as Teddy Green, television celebrity and garden guru, but of course I didn’t know that at the time.
I was walking along a nice tree-lined street in Sydney’s lush eastern suburbs minding my own business. I’d been shopping with my friends Lisa and Caroline in Paddington and I’d parked back in Woollahra to save myself a cab- fare home. Ordinarily I would still have been sitting in the pub with the girls but I had a family event to get to. We don’t have functions or dinners in our family, everything is an event.
OK, so I start walking along the street and out bounds an over-excited Old-English Sheepdog who decides to lunge at me…don’t laugh because I know they are considered really cute but they are also very big, quite stupid and not very good at listening to an hysterical woman who is screaming.
“Please go away! Good dog. Go home! Go home.”
So in the absence of anyone else on the street, and anyone who has walked the streets of Woollahra on a Saturday afternoon knows how rare that is, I found myself climbing into the back of a Ute to get away from the dog. After 10 minutes of barking and jumping and panting the dog lay down behind the vehicle on the warm asphalt and fell asleep, thus blocking my exit.
Meanwhile I was left standing in the flat bed of the UTE wondering how I could make my escape. To add to my stress every so often the dog would twitch as if he was in the middle of a rather exciting dream or scratch himself behind the ear. As I was trying to work out what to do to make my escape, help arrived in the form of a cute, brown-haired guy who just happened to be Mr. Teddy Green, national icon and UTE owner.
He sauntered out of the front gate of a terrace house, listening to his iPod, and came from the front of the car and got in. Why he didn’t see me I have no idea. He was about to drive off when I began banging furiously on the rear window of the cabin. Eventually the vibrations and noise got his attention and he climbed out.
“Uhmmmmm Hello… You’re in my UTE.” Very articulate.
“Yes, this dog chased me in here and I have a bit of a dog phobia and…” Then I burst into tears. Now I must tell you that at this time I didn’t know who he was…I don’t own a TV…so I didn’t know that I should have been feeling even more embarrassed and pathetic than I was.
Just then the dog woke up and leapt at Mr. Green.
“This is the dog you are scared of?” he looked quite incredulous. He ruffled its fur and tickled it behind the ears.
“I’m scared of all dogs…but right now, yes THIS is the dog.” I was also searching in my bag for a tissue.
“If you just move it away then I can get out of your truck and go home. It got out of that gate,” I pointed and indicated.
So he walked the dog back and shut the gate, the same gate Teddy had just come through and I climbed down. I patted my eyes and was thankful that at least, if nothing else that day had gone right, I had worn waterproof mascara.
He swaggered back and smiled.
“Thanks so much. Sorry if I held you up.” I said as I started to walk off.
“Does this happen to you often?” he asked
“The dog part or the UTE part?”
“Both I guess.”
“The dog part is common. The UTE part is an embarrassing new low. Thanks for rescuing me.”
And that’s how it all began.
This was a cute, fun breezy read. If you need some brainless book to read, do pick this up! Brainless is a compliment here. Don’t you have those days where you just want to read something familiar that will end happily? That somehow even your life’s in a mess, reading a happily-ever-after will put even just a smile on your lips, making you happy for a while, making you believe that there is hope in the world. That happiness can be found anywhere. When you’re feeling down like that, read this book.
Sure, it is chock full of overdone tropes but it is charming and silly and funny. Allegra tells the story in her point of view and she is one funny girl. Teddy Green is your common celebrity character with a bitchy ex-girlfriend in Louisa. Basically, you know what’s gonna happen just by reading the blurb. But like I said, this familiarity makes it endearing. It’s like your favorite old and tattered shirt you sleep on. No matter how many times you wear it, it still has it charms. To quote Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado, “Cliches remind and reassure us that we’re not alone, that others have trod this ground long ago.” That is exactly my point. Why do women love romantic comedy films when they’re repetitive? It’s because at the end of the film, we know it will make us feel good, believe in love and ignite that hope that there’s someone out there for us as hot and handsome as Ashton Kutcher, or in this case, Teddy Green. Haha!
This novel is pure fluff so don’t expect depth and brooding and philosophical questions. It’s uncomplicated and it might not be for everyone since it tends to overexaggerate and it might annoy you at times because of that. But if you’re looking for just that book you’d curl up to after watching all those rom-coms, this is it.
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Guest Blog: Who is that Dog on that cover?
Mr Right and Other Mongrels has a variety of key characters that I love the main ones being Allegra Johnson, who runs a second-hand bookshop near Manly Beach and her potential love interest Teddy Green, Australia’s favourite garden make-guru. They are brought together by a mischievous Old English sheepdog called Muffin who appears quite prominently on the book’s cover.
When I was writing this book I knew straight away that Allegra would be scared of dogs or more precisely have a full-blown dog-phobia.
I myself suffer from this affliction and it a rather hard one to deal with in social situations. I wanted to use the characters, and a very likeable dog, to show how difficult this can be for someone who deals with this in day to day life.
Lots of people suffer from phobias. It’s pretty common. If you say you are scared of spiders or snakes or heights or even birds and people are pretty accepting of that. Usually they offer support and sympathy “Oh yes I don’t like spiders either!”
That’s not the case with dogs. People often take your dog phobia quite personally because they love their dog very much and honestly can’t understand why you don’t as well. Of course it’s not personal at all, it’s a phobia and you can’t help it, in fact you’d really rather not be scared of their dog at all but that’s a message that’s hard to get through.
So I wanted the dog in Mr Right and Other Mongrels to be a breed that people universally like, don’t find scary and respond to with a big “awww” when they see them.
Old English sheepdogs are beautiful and furry and they do have sweet faces but they are also big and can knock you down and for someone with a phobia the mere idea of that is enough to cause panic. However you don’t gain much sympathy from passers-by who see these dogs and loveable cuddly soft toys and that I guess is the point. (Having been chased home from the station after school many times by both an Old English sheepdog and a scary German shepherd respectively I can assure you the breed of dog does affect people’s reactions when you plead for assistance.)
Muffin is a lovely dog and maybe he can help Allegra deal with her dog phobia if given time, or maybe not. How Teddy deals with Allegra and her dog-issues is a big part of how their relationship develops.
(Despite my phobia my own daughter is absolutely dog crazy and I now live in a house with a dog called Skip. I still can’t walk Skip or be near other unleashed dogs but owning a dog at all – I consider that big progress!)
About Monique McDonell
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.
I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations. I didn’t write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)
When I began to write again I noticed a trend – writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since. I began a year-long writing course at the NSW Writers Centre and (thank goodness) its members morphed into a writing group known as The Writer’s Dozen. We published a highly successful anthology, Better than Chocolate, in 2008.
In 2008 I was also selected for the QWC/Hachette Livre Manuscript Development Course for my novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. In 2009 I received a Highly Commended in the Romance Writers of Australia’s Valerie Parv Awards for my novel Hearts Afire.
These are the first two books I will be e-publishing in 2012 along with a third novel, A Fair Exchange. I’m not really like the characters in my books at all although I do share something in common with each of them – Allegra (Mr Right and Other Mongrels) has a dog phobia like me, Cassie (Hearts Afire) falls in love on a tropical island and I met my husband that way and Amelia (A Fair Exchange) was an exchange student who is now all grown up.
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