Sunday, April 23, 2017

ARC Review: Sit...Stay...Beg (The Dogfather #1)

Sit...Stay...Beg (The Dogfather #1)

by Roxanne St. Claire 

Garrett Kilcannon, a former dot com super-success who now devotes his life to rescuing dogs and finding them homes, prefers to keep his secrets buried as deep as a dog hides his bone. So when he learns his father has invited a journalist to Waterford Farm to write and produce an in-depth profile on him, he doesn’t care that she’s a childhood friend or drop dead gorgeous. He has zero tolerance for the media…until he sees a different side when she gets through the walls of a rescue dog who’s refused to eat during her short stay at Waterford. Unwillingly charmed and undeniably attracted, Garrett agrees to the interview that could break down a few of his emotional walls, too.
Garrett might not want to share the story of his colorful former life, but Jessie Curtis has the skills to peel back the layers of this sexy, complicated, caring man. In the process, she not only discovers his secrets, she finds herself falling for a man who touches her heart in a way she never thought possible. Her entire career is riding on this one explosive interview, but can she bear to repay Garrett’s trust by selling his secrets? Or can a woman who gave up on happiness a long time ago learn to believe that all it takes to rescue a lost heart is the love of a good man?
Themes: contemporary
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
 One of my favorite authors has combined her wit and charm in writing truly endearing romances with one of my favorite current issues—the tragedy of animals being deserted and left to die in shelters. As with some of the best series currently on the shelves, The Dogfather series begins with a tragedy, the loss of the family matriarch much too young, but the good that seems to come from that loss will be the basis for the entire series and the changes coming to the lives of her family. Roxanne St. Claire is one of those authors that can break your heart and have you in tears one moment and then the next all is right with the world because the lessons learned by her characters are realistic and lessons that each of us sometimes need to learn the hard way. As with every first in a series, there is a lot of world building and prep for the future stories, but interwoven with that is the story of a  girl that is going to learn the true value she can have in the world and a man that has been hiding for too long from a secret that should never have been his responsibility to carry. And of course, not to be discounted, Roxanne introduces some fun and lovable characters of the four-legged variety, Characters that some would discount, but a true animal lover would understand are just as important to the story as the two-legged characters, front and center in this story being the lovable and depressed Lola, who will grab your heart from the minute you meet her and not let go even when you turn the last page. If you are looking for a truly charming, loving and fascinating romance, Sit…Stay…Beg will be the perfect book to settle in with a mug of hot cocoa (or cold glass of sweet tea, if you’re in the South like I am) and a furry love of two. I cannot wait to learn more about the enigmatic and vastly different Kilcaannon family members as each of Daniel Kilcannon’s children fall into his web and find their hearts stolen.
The lovers in this story both have serious histories and hangups to deal with as they are reunited after over a decade apart. While their joint history is pretty tame and innocent, they have each had serious hurts and  damage done to them in the past.  Garrett has turned his life around, Returning to his childhood home after the death of his mother and giving up a lucrative job as the head of his own company, but honestly it was an easy decision.  Garrett has become disillusioned with the opposite sex, not offering his trust fully, and certainly not willing to truly open himself up for any further hurt. There is no denying he has a heart of gold, because the animals he has devoted his life to trust him implicitely, but his hurts have made him suspicious, grumpy and pretty much a bear to deal with most of the time.  When Jessie lands back in his life there is an instant attraction, but her job is pretty insurmountable for a man that is trying to hide his secrets from the world.  When he did finally open up and let Jessie have a place in his heart, he shows us the true depths of his loving heart and proves that animals really are the best judges of character. I hated to see how easily he returned to the mistrust that defined his life at the first hint of trouble, but thankfully his family is able to talk sense into him and he comes to understand that truly loving someone means trusting them with everything including your heart, secrets, and future. In the end Garrett proves he is just the kind of man all us single women are looking to find and make ours. (Any thoughts on where I can find my own Garrett, Rocki?) :) 
Jessica has led an interesting life, but for all the challenges she has faced and overcome, she never really forgot the life that ended early when she was shipped away from the home of her youth.  For Jessie returning to her hometown, begging for the help of a family that once served as the highlight of her life and the fantasy life she wanted, mean facing the differences in her reality and those fantasies.  When she sees Garrett again there is no denying she is still attracted to him, though he is certainly not the same carefree young man she shared a single intimate moment with, but she is desperate for his help and willing to give up a bit of her pride in order to get the help she needs. I liked Jessie, her sweeteness, charm and ability to bring the peace out in those around her is not a trait to be discounted.  Just by being herself, Jessie has Garrett falling under her spell and soon the fear and sadness that has weighed him down for years is lifted.  Her willingness to give up her happiness in order to protect those she loves, even at the expense of her only dream, shows the strength of her character and provides an excellent role model for us all.  I loved getting to see Jessis kicking butts and taking names when those she loves are hurting, even though he thinks she has lost any chance of ever having that love again.  In the end these two characters were perfect for one another.
The Dogfather series has definitely kicked off with a bang and I am thrilled to have had the chance to enjoy this story before it was shared with the world.  Daniel Kilcannon  is the type of family patriarch that can sometimes scare those of us from families that aren’t as tight knit and in each other’s business as this big loving Irish family, but in the end his skill and love shows as he brings his children back into the fold and makes sure they all understand just how loved they truly are.  Garrett has some darkness in him, from his past mistakes, and offering his trust—or his love—is not something he does lightly, but once a woman has earned his love she will do just about anything to keep it.  Garrett is just the kind of man I would see falling for the sweet, witty, and lonely Jessie despite his closed mind and heart in the beginning.  Jessie certainly has her work cut out for her, professionally and personally, once she decides she wants something personal with Garrett very much.  Jessie has to overcome her own issues with feeling unloved in order to offer her heart, but once she does there is no stopping the tears when she is hurting.  The passion between Garrett and Jessie was the kind of slow simmer you don’t really imagine will ever become a conflagration, until you realize the fire has become uncontrollable and undeniable. I love sharing the heartbreak, love and passion that Jessica and Garrett found together and I am looking forward to watching them build their lives, including the loveable Lola, in future stories in this series.  As always I am amazed with Rocki’s ability to bring together two people that you don’t think work out on paper, but in the end their love is an experience that you are thrilled you were able to share.  I cannot wait to find out which sibling finds love next and to get to learn more about this fabulous, loving, and large Irish family and the fantastic animal sanctuary that they call home.

*eARC provided by author for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.

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