Home is Where the Bark Is
This is a follow-up to an earlier book and features the best friend of the author’s previous heroine. I didn’t catch the first book, but this one had me laughing from the start, filled with some funny dialog and hilarious situations. Despite that, I never felt the humor was over-the-top, nor did it take away from an engaging hero and heroine.
Nick Whalen is completely out of his comfort-zone. A private investigator, he’s been hired to look into a potential identity theft ring that’s targeting the clients of Paws-A-While, an upscale doggie daycare and spa, for the pampered pooches of San Francisco. Nick doesn’t even own a dog of his own, and if he did, it would be a “big” dog. But, he goes with what he can get, and borrows his aunt’s Yorkshire terrier-poodle mix Bessie, and heads to Paws-A-While to get a look Serena Oakley, the owner, and his prime suspect.
Once Nick meets Serena, he’s convinced she’s hiding something. After all, why would a gorgeous woman like Serena be hiding out in a doggie spa, wearing loose-fitting ugly clothing and no makeup.
Serena’s no fool, and despite a quick attraction to Nick, senses that something is wrong with him. However, Nick is right, she is hiding something, but it has nothing to do with identity theft. Within hours of meeting her, Nick discovers Serena’s secret on the Internet. Under a different name, Serena attained notoriety for posing, seemingly nude in a bathtub filled with chocolate. Those photos appeared on billboards all over the country, made Serena every man’s secret fantasy, ended her relationship with a jealous man, and put her at risk from a stalker.
I never felt that the identity theft mystery and the framing of Serena for the crime overshadowed the development of Serena and Nick’s relationship. It served as a way to bring them together and keep them together.
I liked both Serena and Nick. They’re each trying to get a new business established. Each has doubts about a potential relationship with the other, despite their strong attraction. Serena’s experiences with men have made her distrustful, leading to a temporary sabbatical from sex. While she’s attracted to Nick, she also suspects he’s hiding things from her. Nick, on the other hand, can’t believe that a woman as gorgeous as Serena might truly be interested in him.
I enjoyed Nick’s discomfort about so many things at the doggie, spa, including doggie blogs, having his dog called a “Yorki-poo” and being called Bessie’s dad. But even more, I enjoyed how he warmed up a bit to Bessie – although she’s clearly not his type of dog – and fell completely for Mack, an older, injured dog abandoned by his owner.
If you don’t like pets in your romances, this is not the book for you. It’s filled with dogs. These aren’t talking dogs, or mind-reading dogs, or even dogs that morph into humans. They’re just very real dogs with vivid personalities and problems. I enjoyed the dogs, liked Serena and Nick, and can heartily recommend this book.