Summary: 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: I was looking forward to this one big time, because come on – dogs! Evan and Austin meet under less than optimal circumstances when after a very exhausting day at the grooming salon Austin owns, Evan is late picking up his pug puppy, Dex. Austin overreacts and lets Evan have it, which of course makes Evan ticked off instead of embarrassed and well, that’s that.
Evan isn’t neglectful of his dog, in fact he loves Dex immensely. He was just also having a not great day, ending with a not great conversation with his sister, Della. Della has problems, their parents don’t care and Evan has spent a lifetime trying to be there for her. He moved away from their hometown to get some peace but when she calls, he tries. He is sort of gutless when it comes to her (evidenced more and more as the book progresses) and she really comes across as a witch.
Austin is an animal lover, a good groomer and a great doggy-daddy to his lab, Maggie. Even after Evan makes one of his classic on/off moves “….better off as friends.” Austin still makes sure Dex is taken care of at work and Evan gets the friend and family discount. Evan drove me crazy with his “reject him, oh no now he didn’t answer my text” attitude. I was happy that Austin has an awesome friend in Jessica, who works for him at the salon. Jessica is down to earth and a good listener, plus she has excellent grooming skills.
Luckily for them, the two get to meet again and this time it’s a little better. While they make the transition from enemies to friends, I adored every Dex and Maggie part! They become really good friends and Austin introduces Evan into his circle of friends, who accept him and include him. The worst part of it was as Evan’s hot/cold continues, it’s Austin who feels embarrassed and hurt and he really didn’t deserve that. But they continue as friends and my heart broke for Austin when a misunderstood text comes through while Austin is a little drunk. Things just aren’t easy for this guy.
When Della comes back into the picture, moving in with Evan and taking total advantage, things go from difficult to impossible and of course, Evan has to make a choice. One that doesn’t include Austin. And really, at that point I hated Della and Evan both. She is so rude you want to smack her.
The thing that bothered me most was that I felt Austin took back Evan much too easily. Yes, his sister had problems but she came across more as a selfish, spoiled brat who was catered to by her brother. Since Evan made excuses for her while she treated Austin atrociously and then treated him badly himself, I needed much more grovel. I did sympathize that Evan not only had the horrendous Della but also the emotionally devastating ex who told him he pretty on the outside but had nothing on the inside but I still wanted him to be a man and not a doormat. I liked Austin a lot and I loved the supporting characters of Maggie, Dex and the circle of friends. I viewed the ending more as a HFN, since things really aren’t resolved but it’s hopeful.