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IN THE DOGHOUSE

A dog mourns the abrupt split of an engaged couple in this contemporary novel.

Lucy and John are soon to be married. Their small pack is rounded out by their huge half-wolf dog, Skip, who acts as the story’s narrator. Without warning, John tells Lucy he needs time alone and walks out, leaving Skip as her only emotional support. The canine goes through his own grieving process, wondering about “our pack’s future together.” He tries to comfort Lucy; she rescued him from the pound so he vows: “We’ll figure this out together. You saved me once, and now I’ll save you.” But being a single, working dog mom poses logistical challenges so Lucy gets help from her neighbors, even the semi-reclusive Manny on the top floor. The boy downstairs, Thomas, bonds with Skip by reading him a Harry Potter tale while Lucy works. The dog grows very close to the boy: “I don’t have to be strong with Thomas….I just need to listen and let him be my friend.” Now that Skip is cared for, Lucy can focus on her new job as “the head geriatrics nurse and wellness director” at a retirement home. Soon Lucy and Skip both realize they are making new friends, having enjoyable experiences, and missing John less. But when he tries to move back in, they must decide if they want to return to their old pack or let go of their past and move confidently into the future. Although Lucy and John’s love story is the initial plot thread, with his abandonment, the tale smoothly shifts to the uplifting romance between the heroine and Skip. Case’s (Tiger Drive, 2018, etc.) decision to have readers view most of the story through Skip’s perspective deftly reinforces the pair’s emotional connection. But at times, this conceit falters, especially when Skip uses words like “chillaxed” or “carpe diem.” The author also offers some unnecessary subplots, which fail to add much to the narrative and only increase the page count. Those minor faults aside, this novel is a superb choice for fans of contemporary romances or dog-centric tales.

An engaging story about a woman and her canine overcoming heartbreak as a pack.

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BEST. MOVIE. YEAR. EVER.

STANDING FOR REASON