Monday, January 2, 2012
For animal behaviorist Emma Jenkins, romance has been at the bottom of her daily "to do" list since making it through a messy divorce. But everything changes the day six-feet-of-gorgeous Thomas Tobin walks into her office with a quivering Chinese Crested named Hairy, a canine that looks more like an underfed rodent than a dog. Sure Thomas is sending her mixed signals-but that charming smile just sent Emma's dormant sex drive through the roof...
Thomas isn't looking for a fling. In fact, he wants nothing to do with women. He just wants to know if Hairy witnessed his owner's murder. But something tells him that asking Emma to help him with the case will spell nothing but trouble-trouble in the form of serious temptation.
Thomas knows that relying on Emma's expertise-and her soft touch with a weird dog that has somehow become his-may be a crazy way to track a killer. Especially when Emma's down-home warmth makes him want to believe that anything is possible-even true love.
There are spoilers in this review.
This was a cute contemporary about a lady vet, Emma Jenkins, who meets studly gorgeous law enforcement undercover investigator, Thomas Tobin, who has acquired a Chinese Crested - this little pipsqueak of a dog with some big emotional problems because it witnessed its owner's brutal murder. Emma is a behaviorist with animals and Thomas has brought the dog to her to see if she can help him get the dog back to "normal." You see, this little dog is a mess - poor thing! Plus, this dog might be the only chance the police have to finding the killer.
Emma and Thomas both have issues when it comes to relationships. Recovering from the recent divorce from her husband who was also her partner in their veterinary practice, she is now living with her father out on his farm. In addition, she's recently become the surrogate mother to the teenaged daughter of her best friend who was killed in a car crash - under dubious circumstances in L.A. Between her practice, her "new" daughter and the fact she hasn't been laid in about a year - Emma's a bit stressed out. On the other hand, Thomas has his own set of problems, mainly because he doesn't trust anybody and his wife abruptly left him when she found out he was sterile. As far as he's concerned, everybody has an ulterior motive for what they do - especially women. In his line of business, he's seen the worst side of relationships because his undercover work is to pose as a hit man who people hire to kill their spouses. As fate would have it, these two are thrown together when one of Thomas' informants has been murdered and Thomas is stuck with the scared and traumatized dog left behind - hence what brings him to Emma's office. Little do they know this odd little dog will bring them together, and he winds up being more emotionally stable than our hero and heroine, who's insecurity problems mirror his.
There's an attraction as soon as they meet, both are ripe for a relationship. But they are both so skittish and clumsy! Thomas winds up making a total ass of himself over and over again and Emma keeps misreading his signals and misunderstands just about everything he says and does. For an animal behaviorist, she hasn't a clue when it comes to humans, but Thomas isn't making it easy with his mixed signals at first. There is a mutual lust thing going on big time but neither is willing to take a chance on getting hurt again. Thomas does some really incredibly awful things at first, but finally he wises up, yet by that point he has some major hurdles to overcome to get Emma to go out with him. Yet despite their relationship handicaps, and the fact that Emma is raising an impressionable teenager - falling in love is a certainty.
I really enjoyed this quick and entertaining read. Plus, the sexual build up was great, but I did find it annoying that just when they're finally going to do the deed, his idea of foreplay is to come clean and tell her that he's sterile! Full disclosure and all that. But, couldn't he have managed to pick a better time to drop the bombshell? Thank goodness, it didn't completely ruin everything - but it came close! Then, once they're happily ensconced in a relationship and things are looking rosy, she drops an unexpected zinger on him and again - he acts like a complete jerk! Uggh! I hate it when heroes do stupid knee-jerk things and disregard any attempts at understanding and listening to an explanation!
Aside from Thomas' stupidity when it comes to important relationship building blocks like love and trust, I really liked these two and was rooting for them to work out their issues while evading Emma's psycho ex-husband. The writing is smooth and well done, I enjoyed all the side characters too. They're not just cookie cutter figures, they have personalities and add a little oomph to the background. I also liked the locale of Baltimore, Maryland and the whole "crab feast" thing that goes on there. A crab dinner with a mallet, melted butter, spicy crab seasoning and cold beer made for an interesting first date, though all I could think of was how poor Emma wore her sexy nice dress to such a messy dinner! LOL! It was a good story with many funny moments in it too with some laugh out loud scenes. I really enjoyed the whole canine aspect with Hairy - the ugliest dog that ever existed. Although I must say, when I looked up a picture of what a Chinese Crested looks like they don't seem so bad to me. This one below is pretty cute! But wearing a maxi pad? OMG! And Thomas' underwear as a chew toy? No wonder Thomas was embarrassed!
Still, I'm glad all ended well and Hairy was able to continue his "career." I must admit, I learned a few things!
I recommend this romance and will definitely read more by this author. I met her at RWA last June in New York and told her how much I loved her collaboration with Celeste Bradley on A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man. I explained how I wasn't a big contemporary reader, but Susan convinced me to try one of her romances. I'm glad I finally did and I look forward to reading more of her books! Thanks Susan for giving me that nudge in the contemporary direction!