Thursday, September 10, 2020

Isn't It Romantic?

Must Love Dogs...and Hockey

Kelly Jamieson
Series: Bears Hockey, #1
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: LoveSwept
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Can an idealistic dog lover teach a jaded hockey player new tricks?

Lilly: My life is like the love child of a train wreck and a dumpster fire right now. I’ve been canned, my professional reputation is shredded, and now I’m walking dogs to make ends meet. But I still believe everything will work out. Somehow. Then a dog at the park attacks my friend’s dog. At first, I’m ready to give the owner hell—but it turns out he’s in desperate need of doggie daycare. I figure, why not? I love dogs and I need the cash. Too bad his cocky bad boy attitude annoys me. He’s too damn cute for his own good. And I’m not talking about the dog.

Easton: My coach is riding my ass and I’m not handling it well. When I’m saddled with an abandoned pooch, my teammate thinks a dog will keep my temper in check. I think I have enough problems already. But when my new dog gets into a tussle that leads me to meet a smoking hot chick who knows how to handle the rascal, I start to think pet ownership isn’t all bad. At least it gives me an excuse to see Lilly again. . . .

Neither of us are interested in a relationship. First they steal your bed, then they steal your heart. And I’m not talking about the dog.
After being rescued, a dog is abandoned in Easton's building. Though it was supposed to be a temporary situation, Easton could not resist this dog and knows he cannot not handle him alone. Fate brings him into contact with Lilly, a down on her luck dog walker, and though Easton wasn't looking for romance or a dog, he found both to be welcomed additions in his life. 

I am well known in these parts as a hockey romance lover, but Jamieson went and sweetened the deal by working an adorable pup into the story. Could things get any better? Well, they actually did, because I found this to be quite a fun, sweet, and heartwarming romance. 

Lilly and Easton were fantastic together. Lots of chemistry and great banter made them easy to ship, but in each other, they also found the encouragement and support they had been missing. Lilly was still recovering from losing her job and her ongoing whistleblower case. At the same time, she was trying to blaze her own path with a new dog-walking-day-care type business. Not many people believed she could make this work, but Easton did. 

Jamieson ripped my heart out with Easton's backstory. Wow! Utterly heartbreaking. I don't want to go into detail with this. It ends up being something really important in this book, and I want you to uncover it all as intended. Needless to say, Lilly was a gift for him. She was someone to give him the love and affection he had gone without for so long. She helped him process a lot and encouraged him in many areas of his life. 

As with all her novels, Jamieson assembled an interesting group of players to inhabit this world, and I am eager to learn more about them. I watched them play, on and off the ice, and enjoyed the camaraderie they shared. The family vibe was alive and well, and that's something I love seeing. 

I need to mention the dog, Otis. Nothing like some 6 foot 5 man being handled by a pup. Watching their bond grow was something that melted my heart. And, we all know dog antics can add a fun element to any story. Otis definitely earned all his page time, and he was just the sweetest thing. 

I greatly enjoyed getting to know Lilly, Easton, and Otis. That epilogue has me chomping at the bit for the next book too! I anticipate a feels tsunami based on what was revealed at the end there, and I can't wait! 

In Case You Missed It

Lindsey Kelk
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Hilarious, relatable and heartwarming: the brand new romantic comedy from Lindsey Kelk.

When Ros steps off a plane after four years away she’s in need of a job, a flat and a phone that actually works. And, possibly, her old life back. Because everyone at home has moved on, her parents have reignited their sex life, she’s sleeping in a converted shed and she’s got a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her new phone begins to ping with messages from people she thought were deleted for good. Including one number she knows off by heart: her ex’s.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…
Ros returns home after her fabulous career in America doesn't quite work out. Though she has no job or home, she is looking forward to sliding back into her old life. Unfortunately, her life wasn't waiting for her, but as Ros tries to reclaim the past, she begins to rethink it as she see parts of it in a new light, as well as some new possibilities. 

What a fun and humorous journey I took with Ros. She made a bunch of bad choices and frustrated me, but in the end, she learned so much. I found that I very much related to the theme of this book, though. When things aren't going right in one's life, it's easy to take that backward look, and many times, we see the past through rose-colored glasses. 

Such was the case with Ros. Her intention was to pick up right where she left off. She was determined to get the gang back together and to reunite with her ex, but time didn't stop while she was gone. Many of her friends were in very different places in their lives and were not looking to re-live their younger years. When they talked about their past, they remembered the good and the bad, unlike Ros. She continued to look back and because of this, she often failed to see some great opportunities that were right in front of her. Needless to say, she drove me batty at times, but I was happy with each realization she eventually arrived at. 

The stars of this book, for me, were Ros' friends. What a wonderful group of people! They were all fun, and interesting, and I could totally understand why Ros loved them all so dearly. Being with them was never boring, and I appreciated the care and affection they gave to each other. They didn't push Ros too hard either, even when they knew she was wrong, but they also didn't stay silent on matters. They were simply fantastic friends. 

This book was also rather hilarious. I loved all the zany hijinks and found myself laughing often. Some of the situations were so silly, and Kelk did a great job pulling me into it all. I chuckled, shook my head, and maybe even slapped my knee a few times. But I wasn't just filled with laughter, I was also filled with lots of warmth and happiness as I watched Ros take control of her life and steer it in the right direction.

Overall: This was a charming story about letting go of the past, living in the present, and looking forward to the future. It was about falling down, but picking yourself back up. It was also about the value of friendship, family, and love. It left me filled with delight and with a smile on my face.  

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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