Published by Gallery Books on September 18, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
AMZ US iBooks
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Must Love Dogs meets My Not So Perfect Life in this hilarious romantic comedy about a dog trainer who’s a master at managing her four-legged friends, but when it comes to her love life...let’s just say she still has a lot to learn.
Cora Bellamy is a woman who thrives on organization. She’s successfully run her own dog training business for years, perfectly content with her beloved rescue pitbull as the main man in her life. She’s given everything to her business, and her lack of social life (or slobber-free clothes) has been completely worth it.
But all that changes when she meets Charlie Gill, the hottest client she’s ever had. The only problem? Charlie’s taken. Luckily, Cora has a new friend—the sweet, lovably geeky Eli Crawford. More loyal than a retriever, he’s always there to help Cora with her problems, including her love life. That’s why she’s shocked to realize that even as things start heating up with Charlie, there might just be a more-than-friends spark between her and Eli, too.
As Cora’s life gets more tangled up than a dogwalker’s leashes—and as she prepares to audition for a dog-training TV show that may irrevocably change her entire life—she has to figure things out before it all goes straight to the dogs.
Charming, witty, and warm-hearted, Life on the Leash inspires you to cheer for every underdog looking for love.
I was provided a review copy by Gallery Books; this did not influence my opinion of the book.
“Charlie’s on the way,” Madison volunteered. “He called and apologized for being late—he really wants to help with Oliver’s training. I mean, he better help. Oliver was his idea. I’ve never even had a dog before . . . Charlie doesn’t know it, but I’m really more of a cat person.”
“Maybe Oliver will help you be both,” Cora replied, starting to understand the scope of what she would be dealing with. She fretted that she’d eventually have to snake charm the woman into liking her in order for them to successfully complete the program. But for now, she focused on the dog, knowing that a puppy could blur the hard edges of even the most disagreeable clients.
So his name is Charlie. Cora checked Madison’s left hand. Bare. Pretending to be a puppy person to lock down old Charlie?
Oliver stopped jumping on Cora long enough to find just the right spot to pee, and Cora chanted “Hurry up, hurry up,” to him. She turned to Madison. “I like ‘hurry up,’ but do you already have a potty phrase?”
Cora started to explain how a simple phrase can become a Pavlovian trigger to get a dog to eliminate but was interrupted by the French doors opening to reveal the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. Cora suddenly understood why Madison would lie about being a dog person.
He was Cora’s kryptonite: tall, broad shouldered, with short sandy hair that swooped in a way that looked styled but not fussy. He radiated the kind of kick-in-the-gut good looks that made both women and men stare. He wasn’t “pretty” but arresting. Manly, like he’d be at home chopping wood in a flannel shirt, even though he was wearing an expensive-looking suit.
There’s got to be something wrong with him, Cora thought, steeling herself to remain professional. Aside from the fact that he’s dating someone who doesn’t like dogs.
He strode over toward Cora with his hand outstretched. “Hi, you must be Cora. I’m Charlie Gill. Sorry I’m late. Can you believe that I hit traffic at lunchtime?” His ruddy cheeks and quick smile unnerved Cora.
Cora met his grip with a firm handshake and did her best to hide her immediate and unprofessional attraction to her new client.
“Nice to meet you, and I totally understand the traffic. It runs my life—I could tell you stories!” Cora said, smiling her biggest “I’ll blind you with my teeth so you don’t notice that I’m not wearing makeup” smile. She hoped that he hadn’t heard the tremor in her voice or noticed the bright red splotches she could feel blooming on her cheeks.
Oliver rushed over and jumped up on Charlie. “There’s my little guy!” He laughed and leaned over to pet his puppy. Charlie’s voice went up. “Are you the best puppy in the world? Yes you are! Why, yes you are, little Ollie-by-golly!”
“I know this is going to sound totally bitchy, but can we get started?” Madison asked. “I have a one o’clock meeting.”
“Of course! Sorry about that,” Cora replied, embarrassed that she wasn’t more on top of the lesson and avoiding looking directly at Charlie. She usually controlled the progression of the hour with a conductor’s fluidity, but she had a feeling that the Perry-Gill household wasn’t going to be business as usual.
Victoria Schade is a new author on the scene. She’s written a couple of books about dogs, Bonding with Your Dog: A Trainer’s Secrets for Building a Better Relationship and Secrets of a Dog Trainer: Positive Problem Solving for a Well-Behaved Dog, but Life on the Leash is a fiction book and I really liked her voice and writing style.
CORA BELLAMY is a dog trainer who believes in treating dogs humanely while teaching them to do what it is you want them to do. She spends so much time with her dogs that her social life has suffered. Her last relationship didn’t end well, so she’s thrown herself into her business. Most everyone she works with loves her and her methods. But while dogs are man’s best friend, she begins craving a friend of the “man” variety.
When hot and successful CHARLIE GILL enters her life via his adorable dog, she is smitten. He says the right things, flirts and kisses her better than she’s ever been kissed before. But Charlie isn’t single and he keeps stringing her along, promising there will be a day when he leaves his live-in girlfriend.
ELI CRAWFORD is a good man with morals who knows how to treat women. While he really likes Cora, he accepts that he’s been friend-zoned. He’s there when she needs help and when her dogs need rescuing. Cora seems blind to the goodness that is Eli. She’s so wrapped up in the handsome Charlie that she can’t see all that Eli has to offer. That is until Charlie’s light goes dark and Cora sees Eli for all that he is; loyal, handsome, and kind. Unfortunately for Cora, Eli is done being used.
While I enjoyed Cora’s story and her desire to have the world adopt her views on humane training, I questioned the love triangle in this book. Cora is a woman with a heart of gold who would never dream of hurting an animal so I had a hard time accepting that she would willingly enter into and continue a relationship with someone who had a girlfriend. So while this added angst to the storyline, and at times tugged at my heart-strings, I was also conflicted by the apparent contrasting morals her character displayed.
I loved Eli! He was quirky, sensitive and had a heart of gold. His self-confidence was sexy and his self-preservation was endearing.
While reading Life on the Leash, I found myself laughing one minute, wanting to throw my Kindle across the room the next. Overall, I enjoyed the story and hope to read more from Victoria Schade in the future.