Monday, 27 June 2011

Trust Me, I'm A Vet by Cathy Woodman

City vet Maz Harwood has learned the hard way that love and work don't mix. So when an old friend asks her to look after her Devonshire practice for six months, Maz decides running away from London is her only option.

But country life is trickier than she feared. It's bad enough she has to deal with comatose hamsters, bowel-troubled dogs and precious prize-winning cats, without having to contend with the disgruntled competition and a stubborn neighbour who's threatening to sue over an overzealous fur cut!

Worse still, she discovers Otter House Veterinary Clinic needs mending as much as her broken heart. Thank goodness there's an unsuitable distraction, even if he is the competition's deliciously dashing son...

Trust Me, I'm a Vet is most definitely a novel of two parts. I say that because the vet aspects and the animal stories were handled beautifully and practically brought me to tears on some occasions, whereas the "chick lit" part of the novel - the contrived way of bringing Maz to Otter House Veterinary Clinic, the romance, the larger-than-life characters - were clunky and cliched.

I do think that Cathy Woodman has talent as a novelist, and I have no doubt that the other novels in this series will pick up in terms of quality, but I think that she needs to find some way of sitting the vet story within the chick lit story more naturally.

I did like Maz as a central narrator - she was warm and lovely, with an incredibly realistic voice. Self deprecating and sad by turn, she gave a great anchor to the novel. Of course, I found Alex Fox-Gifford attractive, in the same manner as Hugo Beauchamp (Fiona Walker) and Rupert Campbell-Black (Jilly Cooper) are two of my favourite male protagonists. I do like a bad boy that you think might be tamed by the right woman!

However, the various personalities from the sleepy village got lost in amongst each other. I kept having to flick back and forth, to tell my Fifi's from my Cheryl's, which I thought was a weakness of the novel. And, frankly, I couldn't stand Emma - the vet who asks Maz to take over while she flits off on a six month trip round the world. Who on earth would leave their best friend to deal with the situation she has managed to put her vet's practice into?

Also, I found Trust Me, I'm a Vet to be both too realistic and not realistic enough! I say this because I like my chick lit to be escapist, and so having financial troubles as one of the central issues was a little too close to read life. And yet I found it ridiculous that Maz was so against living in Talyton, because we weren't given realistic reasons for her not wanting to stay.

So, definitely a mixed bag. However, the animal stories were *so* good that I am more than prepared to pick up the second book in the series to see if Woodman can find a way to reconcile both aspects into one awesome story. Therefore recommended tentatively - at the worst, it's a light read that goes well with Pimm's on a summer's afternoon.

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