Evan Partridge isn’t good at letting people in. His messy family life and the past that’s shaped him aren’t worth bringing up. But his pug, Dexter, sure likes the pet salon owner.
Austin and Evan get off to a rough start, but being friends soon turns into something more. Unfortunately, Evan’s secretive behavior nearly does the relationship in, and the budding love affair almost crashes and burns when Evan’s troubled sister shows up on his doorstep.
Not speaking to each other is killing them both, but Evan doesn't know how to keep Austin and help his sister at the same time. He just knows he has to try. Winning back Austin’s trust back, however, is going to take a whole lot of work.
Would it be a bad thing if I said that I like the animals in this book a hell of a lot more than I liked the people?
Well, maybe not Austin; his patience and love of animals makes him awesome. He has a very supportive family, but self doubt often nudges him, and he sometimes feels that people would think more highly of him if he'd gotten a college degree. He still has a successful pet grooming business, and it's there that he meets Evan and the absolutely scene stealing pug, Dexter.
Evan's an okay guy, even if he's standoffish, and at times, cold. He doesn't do relationships and is only interested in friendship, and an easy friendship is what develops between he and Austin.
I was happily chugging along, reading about these two men who are obviously attracted to each other and fighting that chemistry tooth and nail. I was excited to see that moment when it would reach the breaking point. (It didn't disappoint)
And Evan had changed! He became someone likable, someone with feeling, and suddenly he wanted to experience things with Austin.
It was all great, until it wasn't.
I had a lot more fun reading about the little pugs antics than I did about a neighbor who seems to always be there, inviting Evan over to dinner every night of the week (uh... that's not normal, right?) or Evan's sister, Della, the most hateful woman in the world.
It was Della who ruined this book.
What was easily a 4 star read about two men who were transitioning from friendship, to attraction, to more, took a steep nose dive off a cliff, hit every rock on the way down, slammed into the water below, and promptly blew up.
Yes. Della is THAT bad. She was so full of hate and anger and venom that it was literally giving me anxiety while reading. I had to skip over every piece of dialog she had, or I would have never been able to finish the book.
And if that weren't bad enough, Evan kept making bad decision after bad decision.
I was just about done. Any good feelings I had left were resting on poor little Dexter's shoulders, so I Youtubed some videos of pugs to get me back to my happy place.
I was able to finish the book, but I was in no way impressed with its ending, because there was no real resolution. Evan crawled back to Austin with the little bit of spine he grew, asking for forgiveness that Austin was all too ready to give him. And if there was a solution to the Della situation, the reader wasn't made aware of it. The ending went from shitstorm to rainbows and candy canes in 3 pages.
It's a shame really, because I tend to really enjoy M.J. O'Shea's writing. But, I think in this case, she wrote the villain a little too well, and ended the story a little too abruptly.
On the bright side, I spent far too much time looking at pictures of adorable Pugs, so it wasn't all bad.
Check out on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!