Dash and Dingo

Dash & Dingo previewsizeTitle: Dash and Dingo
Author: Catt Ford & Sean Kennedy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Historical M/M, action/adventure
Length: Novel

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 THE BLURB

Stodgy British archivist Henry Percival-Smythe slaves away in the dusty basement of Ealing College in 1934, the only bright spot in his life his obsession with a strange Australian mammal, the thylacine. It has been hunted to the edge of extinction, and Henry would love nothing more than to help the rare creature survive.

Then a human whirlwind spins through his door. Jack “Dingo” Chambers is also on the hunt for the so-called “Tasmanian Tiger,” although his reasons are far more altruistic. Banding together, Dingo and the newly nicknamed Dash travel halfway around the globe in their quest to save the thylacine from becoming a footnote in the pages of biological  history.

While they search high and low, traverse the wilds, and fight the deadliest of all creatures—man—Dash and Dingo will face danger and discover another fierce passion within themselves: a desire for each other.

THE REVIEW

The first thing you need to know about Dash and Dingo is that it’s a glorious adventure with a wealth of world building set mostly in a part of the world that is not known to most of us – Tasmania, an island off the coast of Australia. Its location contributed to the lush plant and animal life which are highlighted in the book, many of which are endangered species and we are  reminded of how fragile our environment and eco systems are, the need to protect the creatures who live in those areas where few of us will ever visit, and the importance of not leaving our footprints

 But this story is above all an adventure starring Dash and Dingo, two men who could not be more different, and how they fell in love and in lust while searching for the Tasmanian Tiger, long thought to be extinct.

When we are introduced to Henry Percival-Smythe (Dash) it is 1934 and he is working in the basement of a minor government department in a junior position in England where it seems to rain all the time, barely making enough to live on and refusing any financial help from his well off, titled family in which he is the outsider. His main joy and occupation is to research everything there is to know about the Tasmanian Tiger, or thylacine, and his dream is to repatriate two tigers to England and have them breed in captivity. 

Because this is the first book in the series there is quite a lot of atmosphere and world building, including family interactions, to give the readers a picture of Dash’s life before he met Dingo and also to show the differences between the two families when the story shifts to Australia. The contrast between the protagonists could not be more marked when they met for the first time. Dingo is the quintessential adventurer – devil may care, charismatic and sexy as all get out while Henry (Dash) is repressed, dull,  and a stick in the mud who has no life outside of his job. Sparks fly between them during their initial exchange, and even though Dash has no idea what to do with Dingo, he is only too happy to escape his old boring life when Dingo proposes that they team up and hitch their stars to each other in the search for Tassie, the thylacine. As they travel to Melbourne, Australia, via Bangkok, Dash falls in love with his new partner, Dingo.

During their quest to find the thylacine, D & D endure thrills, barely surviving at times in the forest, they get lost as they try to stay ahead of Hodges the main villain in the story and sometimes succeed, they have a misadventure in the River Styx (which  if you remember your Greek mythology is the boundary between Earth and the underworld), all of which make this an exhilarating and electrifying read that you won’t want to put down.

I love the fact that this book had an actual plot and wasn’t just a series of sex scenes strung together, but when D & D eventually had sex it was tender, incredibly erotic as well as it burned up the sheets. There was one scene where they had sex in the mud that was so hot your engine would probably overheat.:)

Catt Ford and Sean Kennedy did an incredible job on these two characters and their voices blended seamlessly, so much so that I couldn’t tell where one began and the other ended, a sign of a true writing partnership. The plot was complex and I tip my hat to these authors for gunning their motors in the interest of giving the readers a fantastic ride without a safety net. I thought it took a lot of guts for Dash to embark on an adventure that would take him half way around the world without any idea whether his dream of finding a thylacine would be realised, and his character grew and changed 180 degrees in the book to the extent that he became an intrepid explorer in the end. Great job on character development! Another plus about the book was the wonderful humour throughout.

Dash and Dingo is told primarily from Henry’s point of  view, which initially I thought was a strategic error because Jack Chalmers, or Dingo, jumps off the page he’s so vibrant, while Henry or Dash is very low key, hardly leaves an impression, and it’s very easy to overlook him. However when I finished the book I realized that if Dingo’s perspective were known earlier his thoughts and motivations would have affected my enjoyment of the book  and some key plot points would have been revealed too soon.

What did I like about the book? The wonderful characterizations and the plot. In addition to Dash and Dingo and Dingo’s family, I must mention that the character of Jarrah stood out, and the authors made him as authentic as possible, given the times. Of course Jarrah’s character would not be politically correct today, but in 1934 he was true to the way “Aborigines” were treated.  Now many of Australia’s indigenous people find the word “Aborigine” offensive because it is a reminder of colonisation by the British and the injustices they endured. The other minor characters especially Mary, Jarrah’s wife, were three dimensional and even Dash’s old boss was well drawn.

What didn’t I like about this book? I was incredibly disappointed at the American spelling throughout Dash and Dingo which pulled me out of the story whenever I encountered it. This  is quite a departure from Tigers and Devils, Kennedy’s previous story that was also set in Australia, which retained the British (or Australian) spelling. This book is set in 1934 in Tasmania, when Australia was still a colony of Great Britain, yet its authenticity is marred by spelling! It seemed to me that if the prose and dialogue could be true to the era then  the spelling should be too.

There was a minor bit of head hopping in the beginning of the book but this was corrected as the story progressed.

Although I understood the need for lots of  background information on the families since this is part of a series, I thought there may have been a bit too much for some readers. Also, I’m not sure that Hank (Dingo”s) dad would have been as broadminded about his son’s sexuality in 1934 as portrayed in the book.

Last, the villain Hodges was perhaps the one character that I felt was over the top and I didn’t think that we were given a satisfactory explanation for why he was as vicious and cruel as he turned out to be.

*************

 Dash and Dingo is extremely violent towards the end and if you’re squeamish I’m not sure it’s the book for you. However, if you love adventure (and this is an old style adventure with thrills and chills in almost every chapter once the initial world building is over) Dash and Dingo is a tremendous book which I intend to read again and again. Despite my reservations mentioned above I have to give this book 5 stars because I think it is deserving of this rating, if only because of the complexity and originality of the plot and the wonderful characters. This is the longest review I can remember writing for some time 🙂

Highly recommended!

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

Wave

Hi MaDonna
I hope you enjoy Dash and Dingo which was one of my favourite books for 2009. The writing was superb and the adventure was awesome. If you enjoy historical and unusual adventures then you will love this book.

The tears were not for the protagonists and the ending was wonderful, so no worries. There are a couple of stomach churning scenes but they happened to the bad guys. 🙂

MaDonna

Your lovely review prompted me to buy Dash and Dingo. It sounds like a novel with a fabulous, colourful, adventurous plot and endearing characters. I’m really looking forward to settling in for the night and reading. I note some readers mentioned tears at the end? I can’t abide a sad ending but, as this is apparently a series, I’m guessing the two are still together in the end. The Americanisation of the spelling is very unfortunate and I know it will put a small damper on my overall enjoyment. That’s one publishing issue that really drives me bonkers.

Mary M.

Ah, now Adrien is a good way to make him appealing. Although I wouldn’t describe Adrien as someone who doesn’t leave an impression; he’s just…quieter. But he’s endearing, intelligent and utterly lovable 🙂 I’m probably going to get this book some day, although it might a little while as I just placed 2 orders that didn’t include it. I’ll consider this one for the next. Let’s hope the canadian dollar keeps going up ;).

Wave

Mary
Think of Dash as a bit like Adrien.:) This is a marvellous adventure with lots of sex thrown in – you can’t go wrong! I hope you get it.

Mary M.

Sounds great! A little historical action-adventure is good for the soul. Although I do prefer my heroes, especially the one whose POV we follow, to stand out a bit more than Dash seems to. But te plot and the interaction between the protagonists seems to make up for that. Very pretty cover. 🙂

Wave

Hi Lynn
I’m so glad that you think my rating wasn’t too high:) Kidding!! I was very tempted to give this book 5 stars and I still might because I love it so much. I re-read parts of it a couple of days ago and it still resonates.

**

Shhh. We can’t talk about the spare body parts – that’s a very important plot point.:) I can’t wait for book 2.

Aunt Lynn

Wave, I just finished this and I LOVED it!! Loved. It. Even the spare body parts. 🙂 Action, adventure, love, smexxin in the mud, humor, great characters…what else can you ask for? Outside of a few niggles — including the stupid American spelling issue (damn you DSP!) — I can say that I would give it a 5, definitely.

MikeIL1969

I look forward to reading this book. Tigers and Devils is one of my fav books.

I’m very disappointed to read that they are changing the spelling for the American audience. Jesus, do we really have a global reputation of being this stupid? I mean, the localized spelling of an era or area helps set the mood of the book. Sad.

Wave

Hi MikeIL1969

**
I think this is the publisher making decisions for the American readers rather than the readers wanting or requesting the spelling change. For a book set in another era, authenticity is very important, and I know that some American publishers permit the British spelling.

**

That aside, I think you will really enjoy this story because it’s a wonderful adventure with a PLOT thank heavens.:)

Wave

JFM
It is a lot of fun, mostly.:). I think the book is available as an ebook as well as in print.

junkfoodmonkey

This sounds like loads of fun. I’ll put it on my reading list, hopefully I’ll be able to get hold of the paperback.

Wave

I swear I’m not a wimp. Catt and Sean are psychopaths. Spare body parts indeed!

Tam

I so loved it. I cried at the end too. What a bunch of saps we are. 🙂 I think because there is a background of reality with the story of the tiger it made the story more “real” for me. I can’t wait to see what their next adventure brings.

Wave

Tam
What I really liked about the book is that they wrote with heart and guts. At the end I had to hold in my stomach and gag reflex.:)

**

A thoroughly enjoyable, edge of your seat adventure.

Tam

You’re such a wimp. 😉 A spare body part kicking around and you’re all gaggy. We have to toughen you up. LOL

Rob

I’ve been to Tasmania “Tassie” twice in the last 4 years and look forward to reading this book. It’s on order thanks to your review. Aloha from Rob

Wave

Hi Rob
I really hope you like Dash and Dingo. It’s an unusual book and quite the adventure, which is why I loved it so much! After you have read it please let me know how you like it.

**

I’ve been to Oz but didn’t get to visit Tasmania – apparently 1 month is not enough to see most of this wonderful continent. All I had of Tasmania were their wonderful cheeses.:)

**

I spent my time in Australia mostly checking out the Great Barrier Reef and parts of Sydney. Maybe my next visit will include Hobart and the rest of Tassie.

Jenre

I loved this book too. It was such a ripping yarn with lots of action/adventure but also a wonderful ‘opposites attract’ love story.
*
I can’t wait for the next book.

Wave

Hi Jen
I was pleased with the way this book turned out. It’s quite the adventure and Catt and Sean did a fantastic job.
**
We probably have to wait for some time for book 2 since they’re only now writing it.

Aunt Lynn

Ooooooh, I can’t wait to get this one! I’m sure the spelling issue will be a disappointment to me, too. Great review as usual, Wave.

Wave

Hi Lynn
I think you will love D & D. The guys are really great characters and the authors did a wonderful job on them.

Wave

Hi Laurie
Be prepared for a ride that you won’t want to get off. However, remember the initial couple of chapters have a fair bit of world building since this is the first book in the series, but once they get going it’s like a runaway train.:)

Laurie

I have this book ordered….can’t wait until it shows up in my mailbox! All other books will be put on hold so I can devour it!

Wave
Hi Jules If a book is set in a specific period and the spelling is not consistent with the times, then it loses its authenticity. I wonder what Shakespeare would look like in an Americanised version of the books? ** I realise that the main target audience for these books is American but common sense should prevail for books like Dash and Dingo set in Australia and England in 1934. What is being done here is dumbing down Americans by implying that they can’t understand other forms of spelling. ** Yes I did cry at the end and I can’t… Read more »
Jules

Oh, no arguments from me on that point. I was just making sure no one thought it was Catt and Sean’s fault. 🙂

Wave

Jules
I gave them both hell about the spelling and they confessed that they had no choice. I realize that company policy is a big factor in some areas in publishing, but I do know that other publishers permit exceptions for books like these. However that’s all water under the bridge now!

Jules

I loved this book so much. 😀
*
And yeah, the Americanised (see what I did there?) spelling is a new change to Dreamspinner’s style guide. I was pretty sad about it, too, as I think spelling adds an air of authenticity to stories set in areas that use different English conventions. They explained the change in policy as being in the interest of consistency.
*
Hahaha, the mud scene was SO my favorite. Good taste! 😉 And tell the truth – did you cry near the end? You know the bit I mean. I cried my little eyes out.

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