First in a sweet new contemporary romance series about three sisters and their service-puppy training school.
Ever since recovering from leukemia as a teen, 26-year-old Sophie Vasquez has been an object of pity and concern for her loving family. She and her sisters own Puppy Promise, a service-dog training school in Spokane, Washington. Against a protective sibling’s advice, Sophie takes on the challenge of training Bubbles the Pomeranian, rescued from a puppy mill. The challenge increases exponentially when she tries to match Bubbles with Harrison Parks, a diabetic wildland firefighter who requires a dog that can detect and alert him to blood sugar swings. Undaunted by his skepticism, Sophie convinces the gruff, impatient man to give the tiny dog a chance. While others are terrified of Harrison—a physically imposing and emotionally closed man—Sophie responds to the undercurrent of longing and fear she senses in him and the family trauma that he experienced. Gilmore rises above the eye-roll–inducing setup with a more compelling study of the classic tough romance hero than the title implies. Straightforward and kind, Sophie works to break down Harrison’s barriers without taking on responsibility for his emotional well-being. He protests that “I’m never going to be cheerful or pleasant or even all that likable,” but he builds her confidence and strength in ways that are more enticing than romantic gestures. This small-town, family-centered, and fairly chaste romance should appeal to readers of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery.
Readers who can get beyond the trite setup will enjoy a satisfying, heartfelt romance.