Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: Free to a Good Home by Eve Marie Mont

Noelle Ryan is a vet tech at an animal shelter. She loves finding homes for the dogs in her care, drawn to the innocent and needy. At home she has a rescue dog herself, Zeke, a friendly Great Dane upon whom she lavishes the love for which, thanks to the collapse of her marriage, she has no other outlet. Recently divorced, despite still loving her ex-husband, she and Jay continue to keep in touch as he builds his new life. Noelle still can't say no to Jay so when he asks her to give his mother, the eptiome of the evil mother-in-law, injections, she says yes, reluctantly but still she says yes. Noelle is the person everyone turns to when they need a favor, taking advantage of her giving heart, never stopping to consider that she might be reeling from the double whammy of discovering that she can't have children and that her ex-husband is gay. Even while she continues her caretaking of strays, surrendered animals and her cantakerous ex-mother-in-law, she meets Jasper, a relaxed musician who offers her the chance to be happy simply for the sake of being happy if only she can find the courage to take it.

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.


  1. I have a guest post up from the author today. I cannot wait to finish up this one.

  2. What a lovely review. This part especially makes me want to track down this book: "This is a perfect book... for those who appreciate stories about new beginnings and genuinely nice characters coming into their own and fitting in their skin." Thanks :)

  3. Hey, Jennifer Crusie books have dogs on them all time, and the dogs don't die. I figure those break the curse.

    This is a great review -- I have a real sense of the book, I think.

  4. Glad to know the dog is fine in the end. After Marley & Me, I can't do dog stories. I'll be reading this one soon.


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