Sunday, September 20, 2020

Immortal Angel


Immortal Angel: An Argeneau Novel by [Lynsay Sands]












Immortal Angel (Argeneau Series)- Lynsay Sands

Avon/Harper Collins

Release Date: September 29, 2020

Rating:

📚📚📚📚📚

Synopsis: For almost two centuries, Ildaria Garcia has been on the run, a trouble magnet with a knack for taking down bad guys. Lately, her vigilante tendencies have drawn unwelcome attention to her fellow Immortals. Forced to relocate, Ildaria is supposed to lay low in a new town. Instead, she quickly entangles herself with six and a half feet of muscular, tattooed trouble.

Joshua James Simpson Guiscard, aka G.G., knows a lot about Immortals—enough to make him wary. Yet from the moment Ildaria walks into his club, he feels desire stronger than anything he’s known. Accepting the fact that they might be life mates is disconcerting. But when her past catches up to them, G.G. faces a choice—confront his demons at last, or lose a passion that’s hot as hell.

            ____________________________________________________________________


Lynsay Sands returns to the Argeneau/Immortal series with Ildaria Garcia, who readers met in Vampires Like It Hot.  Ildaria now lives in Canada and is trying to be an accounting student at the local university.  But she has a tendency to not look the other way when fellow students get attacked and that makes staying under the radar in the time of cell phone cameras difficult.  When she gets a job at the Night Club and meets owner Joshua "G.G." Guiscard, all thoughts of vigilantism fly away: G.G. is her life mate.  The problem is, G.G. knows enough about immortals and becoming one to know he doesn't want to turn.  Will he even accept the idea of being life mates? Then Ildaria's past comes back to haunt her and they both have some tough decisions to make.


G.G. is a kind and thoughtful man, an excellent listener, and the perfect partner for Ildaria. He's also a delightful physical contrast that Sands plays up for the smile factor: a large man with tattoos and a huge green mohawk who's completely devoted to a tiny, slightly neurotic, Bichonpoo. In many ways Ildaria seems the younger of the two, despite being centuries older, because she's spent her life on the run from the immortal who turned her and has missed out on living the 'normal' life she is now trying for.  At the same time, those experiences have made Ildaria a careful and capable fighter and you wonderhow long it will be before the Enforcers convince her to join them as a Rogue Hunter. She pulls no punches protecting herself and those who can't protect themselves and, quite rightly, never apologizes for doing what needs to be done.


 Immortal Angel changes pace from many of the books in the Argeneau series: instead of constantly being in danger, running from danger, and trying to fight danger, Ildaria and G.G. get a slower paced story that focuses on their growing relationship.  The pacing works.  Both have childhood traumas to work through and those traumas aren't things that can be shrugged off.  Getting to focus on themselves and the issues that stand between them as life mates makes their relationship deeper and makes the reader highly invested in the outcome.  Lynsay Sands brings some difficult issues to the table- Ildaria's past is full of sexual abuse- and in my opinion Sands did a thoughtful and respectful job of handling possible triggers and the coping mechanisms Ildaira has had to develop over the centuries, but which would ring true to many humans today.  There is still delightful humor and lighter moments run through Immortal Angel: readers will definitely enjoy the damage she shows can be done to large bad guys with a pair of metal heeled high-heel shoes. 


Readers new to the series will enjoy the sweetly developing romance between Ildaria and G.G., their combustible chemistry, and their determination to get to know each other before jumping into a relationship. Interfering friends, motherly manipulation, Immortals dealing with the constant presence of cell phone cameras, and a Bichonpoo who eats everything he shouldn't when left alone add humor along the way.  Long-time series readers will enjoy cameos by other characters, and get to wrap up some of the problems Ildaria encountered in South America during Vampires Like It Hot without throwing off new readers.  


An excellent addition to a delightful series, and a fun read for everyone.


 


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sea of the Dead


The Sea of the Dead (The Magicians of Venice Book 2) by [Amy Kuivalainen]





















Sea of the Dead (Magicians of Venice 2)- Amy Kuivalainen
BHC Press
Release Date: September 17,  2020

Rating: 
📚📚📚📚📚

Synopsis: The battle for Venice might be over, but the war is just beginning… Penelope’s and Alexis’s adventure continues in the second installment of The Magicians of Venice series. 

Penelope has accepted her role as the new Archivist for the magicians, but with war brewing with the priests of Thevetat and the tide of magic on the rise, she’s going to have to learn her way around her new and dangerous world if she has any hope of outsmarting their enemies. 

When Penelope’s friend and fellow archaeologist, Tim, uncovers a scroll containing a magical secret lost in the Dead Sea for two thousand years, Penelope and Alexis must travel to Israel to find him before Abaddon and Kreios get there first.

To defeat Thevetat and his followers, they’ll need to find a weapon capable of ending him for good, and as her old life collides with her new, Penelope will pay the ultimate price to keep the secrets of the magicians safe.

_______________________________________________________________

The Sea of the Dead follows through on the promise of the intricate new magical world started in last year's The Immortal City.  It picks up after the events of Immortal City as Alexis, Penelope, the delightful Marco Dandolo, and the rest of the Magicians of Atlantis are trying to come to grips with entering a new war against the demon Thevetat.  But it's Penelope's world that brings them the next clue, in the shape of her friend Tim Sanders.  An archaeologist focusing on the Dead Sea, Tim finds a scroll with a curse on it, but stays sane long enough to send the scroll to Penelope to keep from Thevetat's acolytes, who are hunting him for it.  Penelope and her best friend Carolyn go to Israel to find Tim and become caught up in the race to find prophecies from the Dead Sea Scrolls before the demon's followers can bring about more destruction.

Part of what I enjoyed about The Immortal City was the almost non-stop action and danger.  Penelope gets thrown into the deep end and has to sink or swim- and in the process of following her heart she becomes a part of an amazing new world of magic and mysteries.  There's almost no time to think, its all about action and instinct.  The Sea of the Dead takes a different approach with slower pacing, less instant and violent danger at every corner, and the chance for the characters to think through their actions and choices in ways they couldn't in The Immortal City.  Here, they aren't trying to stop a serial killer on a deadline but are trying to unravel a prophecy Tim has found in order to take the next steps in the war against Thevetat.  And the change of pace and mindset works surprisingly well.  As instantly explosive as Penelope and Alexis were in The Immortal City, in Sea of the Dead, we get to see both of them trying to figure out what their relationship is when there is no life or death threat hanging over them.  They have plenty to learn about each other, and how a relationship between them could work- and both are charmingly awkward and afraid to take the steps necessary to figure it out.   

Penelope's old world and new collide here as she brings her two best friends into the circle, with mixed success.  Carolyn and Tim react very differently to the knowledge that magic is real and a lot of the emotional punch the book gives us is in how they handle that knowledge- and with how Penelope has changed because of that knowledge.  I also loved getting to see the magicians in different settings, to learn more about their pasts- either in throw away lines or in deeper memories.  They've each got thousands of years of experiences that made them who they are and we get to peel through the layers with Penelope to discover them.  The improving relationship between Phaidros and Aleia is lovely to watch, and we get to see a new a protective side of both Lyca and Zo that is great.

The Sea of the Dead is wonderfully written, with masterfully detailed world-building and plenty of suspenseful action and emotion.  A new reader could start here and not be overly lost, but I would still recommend starting the series with The Immortal City.  Although not exactly a cliffhanger, the end is clearly ramping everyone up for an epic Book 3.  Hopefully in Book 3 we'll get lots more of Marco and the story of the Dandolo family and the Magicians, as well as the wonderful relationship between Penelope and Alexis and Phaidros and Aliea.  Between sea monsters and secrets, deserts and the waters of Venice, heartbreak and the beautiful discovery of love, The Sea of the Dead has it all, and will thrill fantasy lovers everywhere.    

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Piranesi


Piranesi by [Susanna Clarke]





















Piranesi- Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury Publishing
Release Date: September 15, 2020

Rating:
📚📚📚📚

Synopsis:  Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
______________________________________________________________________

Most readers picked up this book or are reading this review because they know Susanna Clarke as the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell- an instant classic in the fantasy world.  So let me start this review by telling you two things: 1) this book is NOT like Jonathan Strange and 2) the less someone tries to tell you about Piranesi the more you'll enjoy it.

Piranesi is written in a style that I usually hate (first person, as it is happening, slightly indescribable prose) and at first I wasn't convinced I was going to enjoy it.  But I kept going and was soon pulled into the world of the House.     

Piranesi is a short book, an afternoon's read, especially compared to the tome that is Jonathan Strange.  It's a fantasy world, so full of description that you feel like you are walking down the halls with the main character.  At first you try to figure out if the world is a post-apocalyptic one, a parallel one, or some shadowy mix of worlds you haven't even thought of yet.  The World is the House, and it is a combination of architecture and water.  It is silent, full of statues, and yet through the brilliant writing it is also quite alive.  The character called Piranesi (though he's pretty sure that isn't his real name) has a beautiful approach to the World, life, and everything in it, making him really a joy to read.

Strange and delightful, Piranesi is a mystery that refuses to conform to any rules but its own.  It is the sort of book that haunts you if you put it down before finishing it, makes you continue to think after you've closed the last page, and insists you re-read it to catch some of the nuances you missed the first time.  I predict it will be an instant classic in English literature college classes, and it is certainly a guarantee that readers will be debating hidden meanings and theories for decades to come.

A compelling book that must be experiences rather than described, but should be enjoyed if given the chance.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Well Played


Well Played by [Jen DeLuca]













Well Played (Well Met #2)- Jen DeLuca

Berkley Publishing

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Rating:

📚📚📚📚

Synopsis: Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it's been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she'll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined "The One," it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she's not sure what to make of it.
 
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey's shock, it isn't Dex—she's been falling in love with a man she barely knows.
__________________________________________________________________________

For those of us who have been impatiently waiting since we read the fantastic Well Met last year, the wait is over. In Well Played we get to know Stacey, Emily's friend/wench mentor from Well Met.  When her friends Simon and Emily get engaged, Stacey's jolted to the realization that she wants a change in her life.  She's lonely, hoping for a new connection, and in a drunken moment, messages Dex MacLean, a Faire hookup who performs in the Dueling Kilts.  The two start emailing, then texting, and becoming closer as time passes.  But when Faire season comes again Stacey learns 'Dex' isn't who she's been falling in love with.  It's his cousin, band manager Daniel MacLean.  How many lies are between them and are they willing to fight for a chance at love and happiness?

Stacey was a great person to get to know, and a perfect example of the masks that people wear in their everyday lives.  She loves Faire and those few weeks of summer when she gets to put on a corset and become Beatrice.  But outside of that, her life is in a rut and she feels hemmed in by both insecurities and what she thinks other people expect from her. She feels like all her friends on social media are moving on and having great, grown-up lives, and she's not only not doing that, she's not sure what she wants anymore out of life. It's the insecurities that most of us face at least a few times in life and was well done. Stacey's also a kind and caring person, maybe a little too forgiving.  When she figures out that 'Dex' is really Daniel, she's willing to forgive him pretty quickly because of how close they've become through their emails.  He knows her better than anyone and she's more than half in love with him already.  Jen DeLuca does a great job showing how close two people can become through only the written word.  Sometimes you find yourself telling the other person things that might take years to say face to face (and as might happen face to face, the communication doesn't go as well as through the written word here)- so Stacey forgiving Daniel is no surprise, and worked for me.  Daniel himself is a little tougher to get, and he never quite does it for me.  He has romantic moments, and we get hints of his insecurities and always feeling second best to Dex.  But he doesn't jump off the page on his own.  He messes up and is willing to walk away instead of trying to fight for his relationship with Stacey.  Stacey finds herself ready to apologize for things that really, Daniel should be apologizing for.  That disappointed me. I wanted Daniel to fight to fix what he needed to fix, instead of assuming one problem means the end of everything and giving up easily. 

Once again, Jen DeLuca's writing is full of sparkling humor, emotional tugs of the heartstrings, and this time we get a pretty cute cat too.  The Faire moments are some of the best, DeLuca's love of all things Renaissance Faire come through perfectly and you wish you could step through the pages and walk down the lanes with the characters.  Her descriptions make you feel the heat, taste the dust, and hear the fiddles.  Some people might not like how much Emily and Simon show up in this book, but personally, I loved it.  I liked Well Met better than Well Played, so having Emily and Simon and the subplot of their wedding throughout this book really helped me. 

While Well Played could be read on its own, it will definitely be better if you read Well Met first- here we get Emily and Simon's wedding, see more of April and Mitch, and overall get to revisit old friends as well as make new ones this Faire season.   


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Must Love Dogs and Hockey










Must Love Dogs...and Hockey by [Kelly Jamieson]





















Must Love Dogs . . . and Hockey- Kelly Jamieson
Loveswept/Random House
Release Date: September 8, 2020

Rating:
📚📚📚📚📚

Synopsis: Lilly: My life is like the love child of a train wreck and a dumpster fire right now. I’ve been canned, my professional reputation is shredded, and now I’m walking dogs to make ends meet.
But I still believe everything will work out. Somehow.
Then a dog at the park attacks my friend’s dog. At first, I’m ready to give the owner hell—but it turns out he’s in desperate need of doggie daycare. I figure, why not? I love dogs and I need the cash.
Too bad his cocky bad boy attitude annoys me. He’s too damn cute for his own good. And I’m not talking about the dog.

Easton: My coach is riding my ass and I’m not handling it well. When I’m saddled with an abandoned pooch, my teammate thinks a dog will keep my temper in check. I think I have enough problems already.
But when my new dog gets into a tussle that leads me to meet a smoking hot chick who knows how to handle the rascal, I start to think pet ownership isn’t all bad. At least it gives me an excuse to see Lilly again. . . .
Neither of us are interested in a relationship. First they steal your bed, then they steal your heart. And I’m not talking about the dog.

_______________________________________________________________

There are times when you just want to get lost in a good book, knowing that whatever troubles the characters get into, by the end it will have all worked out the way it should.  They'll be happy, you'll be happy for them, and maybe you'll feel just a little bit better about the people and the world around you.  If you're feeling the need for a happy ending and absorbing read to transport you for a day, Kelly Jamieson's new hockey romance Must Love Dogs . . . and Hockey is for you!

Lilly's life is currently like "the love child of a train wreck and a dumpster fire."  She's been fired from a crappy job, no one in her field will hire her, and she's trying to make ends meet by dog-walking.  Easton is a hockey player with a coach who is verbally and emotionally abusive, he's dealing (by which I mean, NOT dealing) with lots of emotional baggage, and he seems to have accidentally acquired a dog he doesn't know how to take care of.  Neither of them want to open their hearts or trust others for fear of being let down.  But there's undeniable chemistry between them and as things heat up, Lilly and Easton will have to decide if they are brave enough to get past their insecurities or if the past will put them in the penalty box for good.

Anyone who's read Jamieson's Aces Hockey series (Playing Hurt, Slap Shot) knows that she's a writer who takes hockey as seriously as romance.  Which makes her the perfect author for people like me, who enjoy both.  In Must Love Dogs . . .and Hockey, Jamieson gives us a new team, the New York Bears, and new players to love- starting with Easton Millar.  He comes off as a bit of a cocky jerk jock, but start getting to know him and you find a man who feels like he's lost everything but hockey, and is willing to put up with pretty much anything to hang on to what he sees as the only thing left in his life.  He's afraid to get close to teammates, afraid to get attached to the dog he rescues, and afraid to look too closely at his feelings for Lilly- until it all comes to a head and he has to force himself to look at his life and who he really wants to be.  The more I got to know Easton, the more I hurt for him, and the more I hoped he could make himself be brave enough to try for love.  

What can I say about Lilly?   When she sees people doing something wrong, she acts- even knowing what the consequences to her life could be. She tries to see the good in life, and how she can help make that happen for someone, while at the same time not having an annoying Pollyanna complex.  She's the person I hope I would be in her situation.  

 In Must Love Dogs . . . and Hockey Jamieson gives readers an emotionally satisfying story of love, friendship, bravery, and dogs. Well-written and full of three-dimensional characters you come to love, this was a great book that left me thinking about it long after I'd finished.  I hope we see more of Jamieson's Bears hockey team and its players in the future.  

A must-read for any sports romance fan, dog lover, and everyone in-between. 

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Mad and Bad





















Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency- Bea Koch
Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: September 1, 2020

Rating:
📚📚📚📚

Synopsis:  Regency England is a world immortalized by Jane Austen and Lord Byron in their beloved novels and poems. The popular image of the Regency continues to be mythologized by the hundreds of romance novels set in the period, which focus almost exclusively on wealthy, white, Christian members of the upper classes.

But there are hundreds of fascinating women who don't fit history books limited perception of what was historically accurate for early 19th century England. Women like Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose mother was a slave but was raised by her white father's family in England, Caroline Herschel, who acted as her brother's assistant as he hunted the heavens for comets, and ended up discovering eight on her own, Anne Lister, who lived on her own terms with her common-law wife at Shibden Hall, and Judith Montefiore, a Jewish woman who wrote the first English language Kosher cookbook.

As one of the owners of the successful romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice, Bea Koch has had a front row seat to controversies surrounding what is accepted as "historically accurate" for the wildly popular Regency period. Following in the popular footsteps of books like Ann Shen's Bad Girls Throughout History, Koch takes the Regency, one of the most loved and idealized historical time periods and a huge inspiration for American pop culture, and reveals the independent-minded, standard-breaking real historical women who lived life on their terms. She also examines broader questions of culture in chapters that focus on the LGBTQ and Jewish communities, the lives of women of color in the Regency, and women who broke barriers in fields like astronomy and paleontology. In Mad and Bad, we look beyond popular perception of the Regency into the even more vibrant, diverse, and fascinating historical truth.
______________________________________________________________________

When we think of the phrase "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" we think (of course) of Lord Byron and the men like him: dangerous rakes who could seduce a woman with a glance.  But in Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, author Bea Koch turns this idea on its head by examining Regency England through the women who did't meet the stereotype of a demure Regency miss.  Koch refutes critics who bash Regency romances, claiming the historic time period is window dressing for stories with far too 'modern' heroines, by introducing us to real Regency heroines, from Lady Jersey and Caroline Lamb to DIdo Elizabeth Belle and Caroline Herschel.

Among the contradictory aspects of the Regency, sex and decorum are at the top of the list. So it is only natural that Koch starts Mad and Bad with some of the real "bad girls" of the era- women who pushed against Society's rules to be influential mistresses of royalty or highly placed politicians.  Any reader of Regency romance knows Almack's Assemblies and the strict and starchy Patronesses who ruled Polite Society.  But Koch gives us the behind-the-scenes stories of their affairs and intrigues that would shock any debutante.  How many Patronesses slept with the Prince Regent?  Or with each other's husbands? Who really ruled the ambassadorial home (and work) of Count and Princess Lieven?

Once she has hooked you with sex, Koch introduces us to women who might not be shocking by today's standards, but certainly didn't fit the stereotypical Regency mold.  Artists, authors, and actresses the reader may know by name are fleshed out into real people following their muse.  Female scientists, astronomers, and geologists struggle to be recognized in a man's world.  Today we think of movies or books that add LGBTQ and non-white characters as being "politically correct"- Koch introduces us to famous, infamous, and relatively unknown, but true life, LGBTQ and non-white people living in Regency England. Koch looks past the scandalous reputations women like Caroline Lamb have to try and find the real woman behind the myth, to put them in context of the times, and to show us the networks of women (and sometimes men) who supported them.    

The writing style of Mad and Bad is relaxed and informal, the people are introduced in relatively short pieces, as the book itself is not designed to be in-depth biographies.  Instead, it is an introduction to a world many readers might not have known even existed, and an introduction to the people who may become the forefront of history as we ask new questions about the "real" Regency England.  Koch provides the reader with plenty of 'recommended reading' and bibliographies to access more in-depth histories of any of the individuals who particularly grasp your attention, and I know my own "to read" list about doubled because of this!  My only complaint was the tendency towards repetition, a little more editing would have pushed this review from 4 to 5 stars easily.

An excellent introduction to a few of the strong women of Regency England who helped pave the way for women to this day.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

You Lucky Dog












You Lucky Dog by [Julia London]





















You Lucky Dog- Julia London
Berkley/Penguin Group
Release Date: August 25, 2020

Rating:
📚📚📚📚📚

Synopsis: Carly Kennedy's life is in a spiral. She is drowning in work, her divorced parents are going through their midlife crises, and somehow Carly's sister convinces her to foster Baxter--a basset hound rescue with a bad case of the blues. When Carly comes home late from work one day to discover that the dog walker has accidentally switched out Baxter for another perkier, friendlier basset hound, she has reached the end of her leash.

When Max Sheffington finds a depressed male basset hound in place of his cheerful Hazel, he is bewildered. But when cute, fiery Carly arrives on his doorstep, he is intrigued. He was expecting the dog walker, not a pretty woman with firm ideas about dog discipline. And Carly was not expecting a handsome, bespectacled man to be feeding her dog mac and cheese. Baxter is besotted with Hazel, and Carly realizes she may have found the key to her puppy’s happiness. For his sake, she starts to spend more time with Hazel and Max, until she begins to understand the appeal of falling for your polar opposite.

_________________________________________________________________

Carly Kennedy dreams of the perfect life, as presented in every rom-com and social media account out there telling her to work hard and life will reward her: she'll move to New York City, have the perfect job, lots of friends, live somewhere trendy and beautiful, eat and drink at trendy, beautiful places.  Life will be perfect.  So far, she's perfected the "work hard" part, but the rest isn't following.  Her life is a non-stop whirl of crazy, artistic publicity clients (who knew two people could feel like so much more?); crazy, divorced parents; and a crazy, stressed-out sister who dumps a depressed basset hound on Carly to deal with.  When the dog walker leaves the happy Hazel in place of her depressed Baxter, that's it!  By the time she tracks Baxter down days later, she's ready to explode.  She's not ready for Max Sheffington, who is feeding her dog mac and cheese on the couch and is far too cute to be a neuroscience professor.  Hazel and Baxter hit it off so well that Max and Carly keep puppy play dates going, which quickly turn into something magical between the dog parents as well as the dogs.  But into every rom-com some wrenches must be thrown, and Carly and Max have to try and untangle more than just leashes if they're going to get their happily ever after!

Carly is a stressed publicist trying to build a brand with a twenty-year old "artistic" fashion designer and a retiree who believes wooden circles are art.  The most sane person in her life is probably Baxter, the depressed basset hound her mother adopted to give away as a surprise gift (spoiler alert- pets as surprise gifts are never a good idea, even under the best and most thoughtful of circumstances.  Which this wasn't).  Having the dog walker mix up Baxter and another basset seems like the kind of thing that would absolutely happen to Carly.  But at heart, Carly is an optimist who accepts the craziness life enjoys throwing at her and attempts to positively reframe it in ways that would make her podcast motivational speaker mentor proud.  Max is a "brain scientist", a professor of neuroscience who researches dogs, humans, and autism- inspired by his autistic brother Jaimie.  He's a bit of the classic science type, not great with social setting or cues, not sure if someone's flirting with him, and never confident around women.  He's also kind, caring, super cute, and loves dogs.  The outgoing Carly and the quiet Max seem like opposites, but thanks to two stubborn dogs, they get the chance to discover that opposites really do attract.  The longer they spend together, the more they discover they enjoy each other's company, and the relationship that develops is sigh-worthy in its wonderfulness.

Right from the start, You Lucky Dog lets you know it is going to be a fun, comedic experience. The writing is bright and bubbly, rather like Carly herself, with plenty of humor, but never so overblown that it crosses into crazy, unrealistic drama.  Instead, the drama is completely believable and largely thanks to Carly's mother, who turns every scene she's in into a whirlwind that leaves you breathless and unsure whether you're coming or going.  Jaimie and the struggles and stresses he, Max, and their dad go through are well-written, with touching empathy.  The characters are wonderful all the way around.  The dogs are magical in their basset cuteness. 

You Lucky Dog is a celebration of dogs, love, and what happens when you stop overthinking and let things happen.  It was a book I smiled at every time I picked it up (with a cover like that, how can you not?) and was sorry when I had to put it down for any reason.  A definite must read for romantic comedy fans, dog lovers, and anyone else looking for a happy way to spend the afternoon!

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review