I started reading this series because it includes books by some of my favorite authors, but Allison Temple is a new one to me. Considering I’ve been dealing with training our new dog, this felt like a very timely book for me.
Charlie may naturally be a neat freak, but between getting out of a longterm relationship and dealing with a rambunctious puppy, Charlie (and his dog Athena) are a mess. After a particularly bad day (involving maple syrup, poop, a chewed manuscript, and a Roomba), Charlie reaches out to a dog trainer that advertises at the local queer coffee shop. Mason’s quiet, competent and instantly attracted to Charlie, but he’s not in the market for a relationship. But he can’t get Charlie – or Athena – out of his mind, and house visits to train Athena soon turn into visits for another reason. But can both men learn to trust each other enough for their relationship to have a chance?
“[F]or a minute the dogs do their utmost to dance around the table, despite the restriction of their leashes, before they settle down with Athena on her back, grinning wildly, while Pamela climbs her body, making fearsome growling sounds that would be a lot more intimidating if she were more than a tenth of Athena’s body weight.“
This is definitely one of those books that I think it definitely helps to like dogs to enjoy. Both of the characters’ dogs play a significant part, especially Charlie’s dog Athena, who was absolutely hilarious. Our neighbors have a couple of huskies, so I have first hand experience of how mischievous they can be, especially as escape artists. Charlie himself reminded me of a human pinball, not a great combination with a rambunctious puppy, which the much more even-keeled Mason is quick to point out. Unlike the last book in this series, where I thought the one character recovered too quickly from his last relationship, Charlie was (understandably) very focused on his ex, though perhaps too far in the other direction.
“I don’t teach my dogs cute tricks for my own entertainment. But if they’re having a good time and they trust you, they’ll do anything you ask.”
Charlie nods like he understands, but then shakes his head sadly. “I can’t imagine trusting anyone that completely.”
I liked that it took time for Mason and Charlie to work out the kinks (heh) in their D/s relationship. There’s a focus on communication, especially when boundaries are being unknowingly pushed, and I liked how Mason constantly reinforced that for Charlie, especially after his past experiences. His ex never respected his boundaries so he’s gun-shy with Mason, which ends up looking like he’s blowing hot and cold and not entirely honest. A huge part of their relationship is learning to build trust between the two of them, which was very sweet. Charlie figures he’s like Athena – too much work for a normal person to handle – and it takes a while for him to realize that the problem was with his ex, not him.
Overall, this was an adorable and quick read!