Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Since a mugging a year ago, Ben’s lived with blindness. Despite an art career on hold and a deadbeat boyfriend who left him because of his disability, he’s finally getting his life back on track. Ben is gaining a new sense of independence thanks to his guide dog, Colt.
But Ben’s carefully balanced life is thrown into chaos when veterinarian Dr. Jay Connor hits Colt with his car. While Colt is on the mend and recovering nicely, Ben finds that Jay is not only fond of Colt, but also quite interested in Ben.
However, one overheard conversation might put a stop to their romance before it can grow into something more. Maybe Ben’s destined to go it alone in the dark. Or can Jay help him see there’s still a chance for happily ever after?
Must Love Dogs by K. Lynn had several things going for it that pushed my buttons and made me want to read the story, that Paul Richmond cover for one. Two cute guys holding hands in a park, one with a guide dog. Adorable men and puppies! Love it! Check! The blurb also hinted at something more than just a sweet love story,, a little bit of angst and depth thrown in as well. Another draw for me. Check and double check! So what did I find? A nice story with a few issues, so one that didn’t live up to my expectations.
Several issues came up immediately that irritated me enough to pull me out of the story. One, a very small thing but it annoys the heck out of me, is that one character has a last name, and the other doesn’t. Perhaps its the sense of imbalance or the implied (in my head) inequality of stature, but do one or the other, two last names or none, but don’t do both. Argh as they say.
The second? A little more serious and it appears multiple times in the story. That would be the author’s use of the word “paranoid” when I would use the word common sense. Ben and his guide dog, Colt, went walking at night and Ben got spooked. Who wouldn’t? Ben proceeded to override his dog’s training in trying to get home, walked ahead, misjudged his footing and fell into the road. Colt was hit by a car trying to protect him. All reasonable as well as believable. Then the story starts to get a little shaky for me.
A guy stops the car, tells Ben he’s a vet, puts them both into the car (no calling the police) and later Ben berates himself for the stupidity of his actions. Lynn calls it his paranoia, I call it common sense. You can’t see, that guy who almost ran you over and hit the expensive guide dog is hauling you both away in his car and you take his word for it and then tell yourself you are nuts for doing so? No, that’s a reasonable response and one based on common sense. Lynn had Ben’s frantic actions based on a believable human response to a terrifying situation but then negated that by implying his thoughts were due to a sense of “paranoia”? I just didn’t think that worked on any level.
And then there’s Dr. Jay’s actions at his veterinary clinic/office where he takes Colt and Ben after the accident. I talked to my vet yesterday (happy coincidence for me, not Winston who was getting his shots) about Jay’s actions. Guide dogs have a huge responsibility to their owners/charges. Plus they are incredibly expensive to train and obtain. So I asked her, “would you have sent him home without x-rays or further tests? Just a little leg manipulation and you’re good to go? Especially considering the fact that you were the person who injured him?” I’m betting you know the answer to that one. So one more less than realistic element that disconnected me from the story and the characters.
Jay and Ben’s story does have some lovely, sweet moments where they are getting to know one another. Plus the author has a strong female best friend in Darcy, who’s a major supporter of Ben and his adjusting to his new situation. The author also has done research into how a person and their guide dogs behave when they’re “off the clock” and how others can act towards them. That worked within framework of the story and the relationships portrayed here.
But then that darn “paranoia” thing cropped up again right at the end,so that the story sort of fizzled out on a odd, discordant note that lost that sense of sweetness that ending was going for.
I came very close to giving this 2 stars but then reconsidered. Those small things that bother me might not bother another reader. It was a sweet story, with some nice character interactions and relationships. So 3 stars it is.
This is the first K. Lynn story I’ve read and it has enough good elements to make me look forward to the next story this author has to offer. One last thing, this is just another prime example of the power of book covers. A terrific book cover will pull you in and that’s exactly what this cover did to me.
Cover art by Paul Richmond. See the remarks above. Really loved it.