A young woman decides to open a bakery where humans can sip coffee while their dogs indulge in the specialty of the day.
Millie Whitfield is walking her two rescue shelties, Luke and Annie, when she sees that Cristopher’s Ice Cream and Cookie Shoppe in Houndsville has suddenly closed and the building is up for sale. It is the perfect location for Millie to fulfill her dream of opening a dog bakery. Now she just needs her husband, Carl, to buy the old farmhouse—plus she must assemble a team to work with her. Fortunately, she has hometown friends to call on. Carolyn will help with management, and MaryEllen (the live-in girlfriend of Millie’s older brother, Bradley) will do the baking. Longtime friend Todd fills out the crew. After almost losing the space to the owner of Miss Annabel’s Tea and Coffee Emporium, Millie finally opens the bakery. But Annabel Larson continues to try to sabotage the enterprise, including reporting supposed violations to the health department. When Millie is not spending time running the bakery—including throwing a birthday party for Luke, complete with a dog-safe cake—she is busy playing matchmaker for her customers and friends and organizing an emergency fundraising ball to cover medical costs for 87 shelties rescued from a backyard breeder. Stylistically, Gilman’s (Mollie’s Tail, 2013) prose is casual and too often cutesy—the shops of Houndsville have annoyingly alliterative names (Julie’s Jewels; Frannie’s Flowers; Bridget’s Bookstop), and Millie is always in need of one of Carl’s “squishy hugs.” Character development is minimal, but with the exception of Annabel, the cast—both human and furry—makes for pleasant company. And it’s fun to watch the team devise unique, dog-friendly recipes for biscuits, pupcakes, and muffins. More importantly, the primary message of the breezy narrative—to urge the adoption of rescue dogs—is solidly communicated without sounding too preachy.
A clever concept delivered in a quick beach read; plenty of amusing canine antics for those who love dogs and their slightly quirky humans.