Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.
But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!
He can be the owner of a small dog.
Carter Embree’s career as a workaholic and somewhat unethical lawyer has made relationships difficult. Carter doesn’t even like what he does, but he can’t seem to find a way out. When he accidentally becomes the owner of a small puppy, Carter decides to give dog ownership a shot, partly as atonement, but mostly because he’s so lonely. It’s not easy, but he falls in love with the little guy.
Carter turns to Sandy Corrigan, a vet tech, for help. Sandy is amused at first as Carter bumbles his way through owning a dog, and slowly the two become friends. It doesn’t take long for Sandy to want more, which Carter reciprocates. But Carter doesn’t think he’s worthy of a dog, let alone a loving relationship. Sandy sets out to prove Carter wrong and show him how good they can be together.
This is a book written by a dog lover for dog lovers. ‘Freckles’ is the name of Carter’s new dog, a tiny bundle of joy that excels at leaving poop bombs around the house. I’m not a dog owner myself, but I do go gaga whenever I get the chance to pet a pup.
So while I zoned out during the puppy training 101, which takes up a good chunk of the book, I could still appreciate the cute antics of Freckles.
The romance plays second fiddle for the first half of the book. Carter and Sandy like each other from the moment they meet, but both have a lot going on in their lives. Sandy is juggling a job and vet school, while Carter is married to his soul-sucking job.
When they do eventually give in to the feelings growing between them, it’s exactly the sweet yet heartfelt romance I’d expect for a holiday story from Amy Lane. There’s no unnecessary drama or contrived angst here. Sandy and Carter like each other, and they’re willing to give it an honest try.
The two go on cute dinner dates that end in sweet kisses, and bond over Freckles. It’s not the steamiest romance, but it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth.
The angst comes in the form of Carter’s serious lack of self-esteem. It’s the result of a childhood burdened with expectations and crappy job. I really liked seeing how being with Sandy convinced Carter to re-evaluate his life and explore solutions that could work.
The ending felt a bit tentative, but I’d still say that it’s a HEA. Sandy and Carter certainly have what it takes to make it work long-term.
Overall, this was a sweet holiday romance with a very cute puppy! Bonus points for the guest appearances by the boys from the Johnnies series, which I was absolutely giddy over.