Noelle as a character is good and kind and loyal but she's also a bit of a lost soul. Luckily canine Zeke and the other shelter dogs help ground her a bit. Ex-husband Jay is selfish and thoughtless. He never stops to consider what his requests and suggestions do to Noelle emotionally, keeping her inadvertantly tied to him. As a boyfriend, Jasper is almost too perfect, giving Noelle the space she needs to find closure with Jay and to trust in her own feelings again. There was just such a charming feel throughout this book about second chances. So many of the characters had to accept the curves life threw at them and go on to create a different life, perhaps not the one once envisioned, but one that contained the potential for much happiness nonetheless and this same theme was reflected in the lives of the shelter dogs with whom Noelle worked. The dogs took what happened to them and in most cases, were rehabilitated to find love and caring in new homes.
The novel tackles a lot of weighty topics (terminal illness, homosexuality, infertility) but retains an air of pervading hope and a sense of happiness just around the corner throughout. This is a perfect book for dog lovers (although one set of Noelle's neighbors will make you mad) and for those who appreciate stories about new beginnings and genuinely nice characters coming into their own and fitting in their skin. I read this in a day so it's a quick and delightful book and would be perfect to tuck into a beach bag.
(For those of you who worry when a dog is on the cover of the book--after all the general rule of thumb is that the dog dies--I will ease your mind and say that Zeke is alive and licking at the end of the book. Not really a spoiler, I promise. Just a reassurance.
Make sure to visit Eve's website where you'll find her blog and all sorts of fun information. And don't forget that the book releases today so you too can have a copy of this charming story.
Thanks to Kaitlyn at Berkley for sending me a review copy of this book.