Addie Andrews has inherited a house from her great-aunt Tilda so she moves from Chicago to small town Eunice, Arkansas. She only intends to be there for as long as it takes to clear out Tilda's house, fix it up, and sell it. While she's in the house, she remembers snatches from the 12 summers of her childhood that she spent with Aunt Tilda, happier memories than the melancholic memory ambushes of her fiance Jonah. One evening, as she walks along the Mississippi River, she stumbles across a young, abused pit bull tied up in a garbage bag and left to die. Rushing the animal to the vet, she finds out that he has also been shot. This visit to the vet changes everything about Addie's life in Eunice. She ends up adopting Felix; meets Wanda, the vet receptionist who becomes her best friend; and first lays eyes on Jasper Floyd, a local farmer who sparks her interest and whose family is the wealthiest in town. It also puts her on a collision course with a nasty piece of work who is likely the one who wanted Felix to die.
Addie is incensed by the fact that someone would treat a defenseless animal the way that Felix was treated and she is determined to root out the evil, inhumane perpetrators. But Addie is sticking her nose where it's not wanted and while Wanda and Jasper seem to be on her side, she also barrels along making enemies. Her plan to sell the house after she fixes it up goes very slowly and she starts to settle into this small, gossipy town, wondering what she means to Jasper and vice versa. At every turn, various people warn her off of her renegade investigation into what is going on that almost left Felix dead but she apparently doesn't trust any of these people enough to heed their advice, landing herself in danger over and over again. The pain in her past is also slowly exposed, especially as she gets closer with Jasper.
Addie is often a frustrating character. She rescues Felix and recognizes that something terribly unsettling is going on in this town but she is too naive to acknowledge the fact that she doesn't understand all of the undercurrents and history and so she barges forward without thinking or considering. Her zeal for rescuing dogs and getting justice for them is admirable but her methods leave a lot to be desired, embroiling ever more people in her unthinking actions. The remaining cast of characters is a little bit boilerplate feeling: the hot but sometimes distant love interest, the devoted best friend, the caricaturish evil baddie, the very attractive and possessive competition for the love interest, and the rest of the quirky, small town, Southern eccentrics. The plot was generally predictable but did still have a few unexpected moments in it that saved it. The mystery of what happened to Jonah was not really a mystery and might have added more to the book if it had been addressed head on as something that Addie wanted to shy away from instead of presenting it as something to be uncovered. Of course, since Aunt Tilda was a phemonenal cook and Addie is a dismal one, there are the requisite recipes for scrumptious sounding Southern foods that are always popular in women's fiction. Despite problems, ultimately this was a nice tale of healing a broken heart, starting over, and the second chances we should all get in life.
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Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.