Author: MJ O’Shea
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: What Austin Lloyd lacks in academics, he makes up for in his love of the animals who frequent his pet salon. He’s not lucky in romance, though, and his family would like him to settle down with a good man. Austin—and his golden retriever, Maggie—couldn’t agree more.
Evan Partridge isn’t good at letting people in. His messy family life and the past that’s shaped him aren’t worth bringing up. But his pug, Dexter, sure likes the pet salon owner.
Austin and Evan get off to a rough start, but being friends soon turns into something more. Unfortunately, Evan’s secretive behavior nearly does the relationship in, and the budding love affair almost crashes and burns when Evan’s troubled sister shows up on his doorstep.
Not speaking to each other is killing them both, but Evan doesn’t know how to keep Austin and help his sister at the same time. He just knows he has to try. Winning back Austin’s trust back, however, is going to take a whole lot of work.
Review: Despite Austin Lloyd being the only one in his family not to go to college, he owns his own successful business – Pawsitively Purrfect Pet Salon. He loves his work and the animals he clips, washes and grooms daily.
Evan Partridge was more than happy to use a job offer teaching cultural anthropology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington as an opportunity to escape his hometown in New Mexico. He’s settling into his new life away from his demanding mother and sister, enjoys his job and has even adopted an adorable pug puppy, Dexter.
When Evan runs late picking Dexter up from Pawsitively and Austin gives him a piece of his mind after a long day, neither man make a good first impression on each other. Fortunately they manage to get past their original encounter and find they actually get on well. They quickly build a friendship, with Austin drawing Evan into his circle of friends, which is a new experience for Evan, whose background never allowed for long-term relationships of any kind. Friendship morphs into something else and they give into their growing feelings for each other. Just when Evan thinks his life is coming together, his unstable sister, Della, arrives unexpectedly and threatens to undermine everything he’s built with Austin.
For me, the story got a little bogged down in unnecessary, detailed narrative at times. It jumped from one scene to the next with a jolt and there were quite a few times where the reader is told about something important to the story that occurred instead of shown it, yet there was abundant detail for every day, familiar actions, explanations for things that had no bearing on anything, and repetitious thoughts and dialogue. The first two thirds or so of the book was quite slow, but the last quarter picked up a bit of pace. But then it ended very abruptly and I was left with no real sense of how things could go from there for them as a couple or how Evan’s situation with his sister would be resolved.
I liked Austin from the beginning. Ethan took me a bit longer to warm to, but I also liked his character. There were times for both characters where I felt like they acted/reacted more for convenience of plot than within their established characters. Austin’s reaction to a text accidentally sent to him was out of proportion, and the passive aggressiveness out of character and not at all endearing; it came across as manufactured angst purely to create some story conflict. Although I was thankful it didn’t carry on for chapters. The plot line involving Della turning up without warning and Evan’s pushing Austin away felt over the top. Evan’s sister was more than enough conflict for the story without adding anything else. We’re told Ethan loves his sister, but since all I saw of her was her being absolutely vile, I have no idea why he did. I really disliked Della and had zero sympathy for her. I’m also at a bit of a loss as to what her character was meant to portray. I did like Austin’s family and group of friends a lot. Their interactions were fun and I really enjoyed reading them.