Copyright 2013 by Jackie Bouchard
I loved Jackie Bouchard’s first novel, What the Dog Ate. So when she offered me an advance copy of this, her second novel, I was excited to read it. I had high expectations, and the author more than exceeded them with this book.
The heroine in this story, Jane, suffers two tragedies at the very beginning: she loses her husband and then her beagle, both to cancer, within weeks of each other. She is far sadder about the beagle than the husband! This is a secret she feels very guilty about and keeps to herself through most of the book. After these losses, she decides she needs to move back to her hometown of San Diego and the seacoast that she loves, and has missed greatly while living in Pennsylvania with her husband.
Instead, she gets waylaid, and heads to Arizona to help out her uncle and aunt in the Bed & Breakfast that they own, while they go away for medical treatment for her aunt. Jane is not a people person, to say the least, so this is an unlikely job for her. For example, her thoughts on the B&B after dealing with a difficult customer: “Geez, this place! Sure, I like helping my family, and playing chef isn’t horrid, but the guests leave me muttering and picturing ways to torture them with pastries.” On her drive to Arizona she finds a stray dog at a rest area and brings her to the B&B. She intends to leave her at a local no-kill shelter, but she is convinced by her family to keep the dog for them while they are gone, and they name her Maybe (short for Maybelline).
This book brings to life the expression dog lovers might be familiar with when it comes to rescuing a dog: “Who rescued who?” Maybe develops a serious health issue, and as Jane helps her through that, she also finds herself. She makes friends, even though she is still determined to keep her emotional distance from people and find a job in San Diego. Most of all, she and Maybe become best friends.
The author once again creates characters who are down to earth, everyday people that we can all relate to. The situations they find themselves in are true to life and believable. Her dry sense of humor puts a lighthearted spin on difficulties that we all deal with in life. This book could be made into a movie…there is one scene where Jane is trying to secretly recover just a portion of her husband’s ashes from her in-laws, in order to spread them in Hawaii as he wanted. I can picture an actress like Sandra Bullock creating a comedy scene out of it that would have everyone in hysterical laughter, just as I laughed reading it.
On the other hand, I cried during another scene in which Jane finally gets to release some of her pent up guilt about her husband. Even though she had fallen out of love with him, she still tried to do right by him while he was ill, and after he was gone. I could go on, but I don’t want to give away any more about the story! Just one more favorite quote from the book: “Nothing like a Christmas Beagle to add massive amounts of cheer to your holiday. (In fact, those ghosts could have saved a lot of time by simply getting Scrooge a Christmas Beagle. Would have changed his whole outlook on the holiday in a heartbeat, and everyone could have gotten a good night’s sleep).” If you love dogs, you will love this book. If you love books about family and life, you will love it. So pick yourself up a copy and enjoy!
About the author: Jackie Bouchard lives in San Diego with her husband and rescue dog, Rita. The dog characters in this book are based on two of her own dogs that she lost to cancer. She tells their story at the end of the book. Jackie escaped corporate America and now enjoys reading, writing, and blogging (and of course dogs). Her blog shares stories of her life in California with her husband and Rita.
Please visit Jackie’s blog Pooch Smooches through this link and you can also watch a great video trailer for the book. The book is available in kindle and paperback versions through amazon.com.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary advance copy of this novel, but was in no other way compensated for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.