Puppies, dogs, a young child, and a baby round out a Christmas romance between friends.
Widowed single mom Mia Chambers has no idea that Ben Thomas has been in love with her for eight years. Architect and mountain climber Ben fell hard for Mia at her college graduation, but a twist of fate meant he lost her to his best friend. Despite his heartache, he has been a steadfast support to her and her son during her troubled marriage (due to her late husband’s mental illness and infidelity) and its aftermath. But the two may finally start to overcome the past with some help from the strays at the animal shelter where Mia volunteers. Burns (My Forever Home, 2018, etc.) adds to her Rescue Me series with this sweet but plodding tale of lost love regained. Long passages are devoted to descriptions of the animals, adoption processes, and dog antics, which may please some readers but leave others impatient for the romance plot’s progression. It seems poised for drama when Mia discovers that Ben withheld some knowledge related to one of her husband’s affairs, but the tension is defused quickly. The appearance of Mia's mother, Lynn, and ex-in-laws further dilutes the focus on Ben and Mia, though their sense of being abandoned by their mothers establishes an empathetic connection between them. But a passing reference to Ben's mom’s Lebanese nationality and Lynn’s stated spiritual connection to Africa and life in rural Kenya feel like an awkward attempt to gesture to diversity in a largely homogeneous landscape.
For readers who enjoy a nontaxing story of second chances.