While this is the ninth book in the series, I read it as a standalone. There were a couple of references to other couples that seemed like they were referring to previous books, but that was it. And while this has all the cute puppies the book promises, there were other issues that ruined the read for me.
“But like the name of her bookstore, Lucy was beginning chapter one of her best new life.”
Lucy and Calum both have their own reasons for not wanting a serious relationship. For Lucy, she moved to the small suburb of Spring Forest to get away from her cheating fiancé and all their friends, and so far, running the bookstore has been a wonderful fresh start. For Calum, owner of the bowling alley next door, he didn’t want to even think about starting a family until he had the means to support them, not to mention the trauma that having an alcoholic father has left him with. Both agree that they’re not interested in kids right now… though I’m sure you can guess how that turns out for them!
“With him, there was no pretense that had her second-guessing or looking for an ulterior motive. He was confident and forthcoming, while he hadn’t hesitated when expressing his views on marriage and becoming a father. She had hit the jackpot with him.”
First off, Buttercup, the pregnant golden retriever that Lucy is fostering, is adorable, as are her little of puppies! There’s plenty of sweet moments with Buttercup and hilarious antics with the puppies, so I definitely got my quota of happy romance dog. Having two main characters who are definitely not looking for something serious (ha, we know how that turns out) but are still (mostly) amazing at communication? I really liked that. They were, for the most part, both straight-shooters, though of course it took some time for each of them to open up to the other with their vulnerabilities. So, yeah, it’s a pretty cute romance with flawed-but-trying characters.
Unfortunately, there’s a strain of fatphobia running through the book that ruined the experience for me. There’s references to a side character avoiding certain foods due to age, and Lucy even spouts the classicly awful View Spoiler » in reference to dessert. Even when characters push back on the amount she’s eating, she claims she eats enough to feel full, not overeat. Lucy’s references to weight and dieting came up repeatedly in the book and served absolutely no purpose in the plot and in fact actively jarred me out of it. Weight stigma is rooted in racism which makes it even more disappointing to find in a book with two Black leads.
Overall, a cute romance with cute dogs and unfortunately chock-full of fatphobia.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.