As an animal lover and avid reader, this book was on my TBR list as soon as I found out about it. I’ve had the pleasure of reading this author’s work in the past and knew that I was going to be in for another captivating read.
Alex Winters was an outsider in a small community. Being the new guy in the area would already have the neighbors talking, but being that he was a reclusive man who rarely communicated and looked like he had never seen the inside of a barber shop, he was automatically on everyone’s radar. Was he dangerous? Was he mentally stable? People were making their judgements without even knowing the slightest bit of background information on him. Such is life. Nobody knew what Alex had been through. Nobody knew that he was struggling on a daily basis, that he had experienced loss, grief, and a complete upheaval of his life. People just wanted to assume the worst. The only one who never judged him, turned his back on him, or let him down was his dog, Stan.
Dawn was a single mother whose life revolved around her child and her job as a veterinarian. She struggled to maintain a balance in her life, but a love life wasn’t part of that balance. Dawn’s track record with men was anything but stellar. She opted to be the best mother that she could be in lieu of having a romantic partner. It’s not that she didn’t want that companionship, she didn’t want to have the complications that went along with a relationship. She had her daughter to think about first.
When Alex’s dog needs medical care, he is forced to step into society to help his dearest friend. Dawn is just as taken aback by Alex’s appearance and behavior as everyone else in town. His lack of communication and gruff personality keep her on guard, however, she can’t deny that he clearly loves his ailing pet. A man who loves his dog can’t be all bad, right? Over Stan’s course of treatment, Dawn and her daughter get to know Alex a bit better. He’s standoffish and private, but he is slowly coming out of his shell around them.
I liked these characters immediately. I wanted to see them find their slice of happiness in the world. They both deserved it. I wanted nothing more than to see Alex break out of his shell and rejoin society with a newfound zest for life. I wanted Dawn to give herself permission to fall in love, open herself up to new possibilities, to take the leap of faith that not all men were going to break her heart. Of course, I wouldn’t expect it to be as easy as that, and I wouldn’t want it to be. Their personal demons and the baggage that they carried had weighed them down. Their relationship was complicated and messy, but it was brimming with potential.
Jane Harvey-Berrick delivered a story that definitely brought tears to my eyes. I read the warning at the top of the synopsis before I pre-ordered the book. I knew that it had the potential to break my heart, but I went into it anyway. It is a story of loss, betrayal, love, friendship, and second chances. It is a story for anyone who has ever had a four-legged friend - that friend who is always happy to see you, doesn’t care if you’re at your best, who is happiest when they’re by your side. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and give my dog a hug.