New Leash on Life (The Dogfather #2)
Former attorney and current dog whisperer Shane Kilcannon doesn’t like to lose. At anything. So when he messes up his chance with a beautiful stranger whose confident smile and haunted eyes intrigue him more than any woman he’s ever met, he’s ready to snarl like one of his beloved pit bulls. But Shane’s work with the wildest and wariest of his family’s rescue dogs has taught him patience…and persistence. When his father asks him to work alongside Chloe, helping to convince the locals to support her groundbreaking tourism plans, he agrees…as long as she is willing to help him by giving a temporary home to one misunderstood dog.
Chloe Somerset has built a reputation in the tourism industry as someone with big ideas that put little places on the map, and she’s confident she can do the same for Bitter Bark, North Carolina. All she has to do is convince one small town to change its name, open her germophobic heart to a dog with a penchant for face-licking, and avoid the landmines of local politics when her plans divide the townspeople. But none of that is as scary as the feeling of falling hard for a handsome charmer who whispers all the right things and tempts Chloe to forget a lifetime of hard lessons. Shane might be the best trainer in the family, with an instinct for how to get through to the creatures who need care the most, but he’s met his match with Chloe and it’ll take every trick he knows to teach her to fall in love.
Rating: 4.25 stars
**MILD SPOILERS AHEAD**
The Dogfather strikes again… even if it was mostly unintentional. Roxanne St. Claire takes us back to Bitter Bark, NC where the Kilcannon family reminds us all of the importance of sticking together and sharing love. I am enjoying this series very much and look forward to this whole series and seeing all six of this generation of an amazing family find love. I very much liked this second story and was surprised by Shane and his ability to charm just about any creature, especially the female ones. Shane’s story was full of challenges, fun, and secrets shared through the relationship they slowly built. Chloe was an enigma for sure, though I began to understand just how deeply rooted her fears were and was happy to see her slowly overcome more and more of them. The world that Roxanne has built in this small southern town is heartwarming while at the same time shows that no town is perfect, simply because no person is perfect, but when people truly come together as a community the power of those individuals is multiplied. If you love to see people fall in love in the most unlikely of circumstance and with the least likely match you could imagine, then Shane and Chloe will fill that need. I was a little disappointed in Shane’s stubbornness and ornery attitude about love considering the love his parents had and the love his father still has for his late wife. In the end, the title holds true and Chloe and Shane really do offer one another a New Leash on Life.
Chloe has arrived in Bitter Bark, hoping to do a favor for her aunt, with a mission to present a solution to the town’s lack of tourism. Being a tourism expert has made her a gypsy through life, but her history makes her a bit neurotic and OCD about a lot of circumstances in life. She never expects for the perfect idea to her problem to come in the form of a sexy man, but after rewarding him with a hot kiss, she runs off and runs with that idea. Shane is obsessed--slightly-- with the sexy woman that rocked his world with a hot kiss and when he is finally offered the chance to meet her officially, he is more than happy to step in for his father on the tourism committee. Chloe’s idea is met with some serious resistance, but once Shane puts a a few stipulations on his support she knows she can bring the town around. Working together on a mission to convert the small town to Chloe’s side, Shane brings in a sweet pup that slowly steals Chloe’s heart, which in turn pulls Shane deeper into the orbit of Miss Chloe. But Shane doesn't trust in love anymore and while he’s willing to play with Chloe and help her overcome some of those long-held hang-ups, there’s no future for them…unless Shane finds a way to get over his own fears and embrace the love he can no longer deny he has for the barrier-breaking Chloe.
Chloe was a fun character to learn about, mostly because I can’t really understand a woman that is so obsessed with cleanliness that she can’t even give a sweet dog some love. Being a huge animal lover (yes, I love all five of my pups), I loved watching Daisy help Chloe get over herself just by being the sweet and lovable dog she is. Chloe worked hard and found just the motivation she needed to break down those personal barriers in Daisy and Shane’s love for her. She may not understand just how much she needed both Shane and Daisy in her life, but I could clearly see that without them this woman would have gone through life without understanding the true love and affection of a dog and the sweetness of a dog that is always there for you. Even if everyone else fails you, a loved animal will always give you back that love in spades. Shane on the other hand understands perfectly the love that comes from a well loved animal, but women are a different story. He’s not interested in relationships, doesn't believe in true love, and certainly isn't opposed to the temporary nature inherent in dating a woman like Chloe, so he’s persistent when he decides he wants her. But the more time he spends with her, watching her change and grow right before his eyes, the more he begins to fall for her. I was very disappointed in Shane, especially when he upsets his father with his views of love and his parents relationship, but thankfully he changes his mind and sees that he truly does love Chloe. It was obvious from the beginning that Shane has a more than adequate dose of the sexiness and charm of Irishmen, but as he pushed Chloe past her issues, even while fighting against do.ing the same for himself, made me want to slap some sense into him. When he finally admits to loving Chloe I was in his corner and loved seeing him prove his love to her and finding a way to give her all she needs in life and to convince her to be his.
New Leash on Life is the kind of heartwarming and heartbreaking story that I always expect from Rocki, but this story hit on a few very important issues that many people never get any experience with. While most of us cannot imagine living the way Chloe did, I just as much couldn’t imagine having a life without animals walking through life right beside me. Chloe finds herself in this story as much as she finds Shane; she changes almost all of her habits, sacrificing for those she loves, and slowly coming to understand that there are normal levels that can be reached for most of her concerns, without going totally overboard. Sweet, sexy, and smart, with just the right stiffness in her backbone, Chloe is the kind of all-American woman that most us try to portray to the world, with just enough wildness hiding deep inside to entice a man like Shane. Shane himself has his ups and downs, but in the end I liked him just as much as I did his brother Garrett, though I wished he’d come to terms with his pain long before the time he finally did. The sexy passion between these two was tempered by the fears and hangups that Chloe has to work to overcome and by Shane’s stubborn insistence that he is only after a little bed play with Chloe, but when they both begin to see that light they bring to each other the passion gets hotter and I loved seeing that. Overall, this story was very interesting, with some fun laughs, sweet doggy moments, and two people that obviously needed each other, though I wished there was a little more time to see Shane deal with his emotions. I loved every moment and cannot wait for Liam’s story, coming soon, and to see if the Dogfather will finally find a way for Liam to get the woman that has his heart already in the palm of her hand. Great work, Roxanne.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review. No compensation was provided.