Finding the future they deserve will mean leaving the past behind…
Navy SEAL Noah Alba is on extended leave after a terrible mistake resulted in the loss of his K-9 partner. He arrives in Asheville, North Carolina, hoping to get his head on straight before he returns overseas. When an old friend recruits him to train service dogs for veterans, he doesn’t feel ready. Still, rambunctious rescue dog Lucky is awfully hard to resist—as is the drop-dead stunning bride Noah encounters while hiking.
When she finds out her fiancé is only marrying her to gain control of her family’s brewery, Peyton Sutton’s I do turns into a hard pass real quick. But Peyton’s father and now-jilted ex are determined to force the match at any cost. Running away can only get her so far, until Noah—and his adorably fierce canine companion—step in as an unlikely protector.
Guarding a runaway bride in the close quarters of her downtown loft is no way to avoid a simmering attraction. But Peyton can’t outrun her ex, and Noah can’t outrun his past; they’ll have to find a way to move forward together, or risk making another terrible mistake.
Ask anyone who has been following the blog for some time my favorite and they’d probably say, animal stories. The same readers would know the least favorite is romance. So, yes, the cover got me (the old bait and switch) and here I was, stuck in a romance labeled animal fiction.
Rich girl is controlled by an old-fashioned father (the business should go to a son) and, according to an overheard conversation, a fiancé promised the business if he’d marry Peyton. Not like she’s a dog. Actually, very pretty and smart besides being rich. Also, Peyton managed to become a Master Brewer—she’s no slouch when it comes to the business.
Peyton escaped the wedding, grabbed a couple bottles of champagne, and found a lovely spot to sit, contemplate, and toast to having escaped a man with motives other than love. It is there that Noah happens on her. He’s suffering from PTSD and the guilt associated with the loss of a Seal buddy and military service dog—his fault. And actually, I enjoyed the first few chapters. It is cute.
Then the storyline begins to take shape. Actually, Noah is in horrible shape–mentally. Peyton has escaped her ex-fiancé, but Dalton isn’t that easy to shake. Noah, however, really has nothing to lose and Peyton quickly realizes that Noah gives her tingles. Her first experience with tingles and she’s not going to relinquish that real soon. Yeah, tingles.
I am not overly thrilled with either main character. Noah’s belaboring of his experience overwhelms. Peyton’s tingles get tiresome.
Perhaps the plot would have worked better for me if there had been more service dogs, less romance. The dog that is paired with Noah eventually wins him over—sweet boy. But the pacing slowed in the tingle portions and I would have liked more interest, more atmosphere, more tension. Just… more. Less tingle.
There are few surprises, the conclusion as predicted. I am, however, impressed with the author’s experiences, particularly that she’s also a motorcycle rider–a Harley—but I won’t hold that against her. Just that this is not my genre although I’m sure a romance fan would appreciate it. 3 stars
Navy Seals are a close brotherhood. Being involved in close combat and losing fellow combatants can isolate and debilitate even the strongest of men. Noah Alba is a Seal who is home after losing some of his men in an operation. He is on medical leave assigned to a K-9 training operation to help him overcome battle fatigue.
Jack Daniels is a disabled veteran who heads up the operation. He knows that having the men help train the dogs also helps to reduce their battle trauma. A good service dog can help de-escalate the tension affecting the warrior. Hopefully it will work on Noah.
Payton Sutton is dressed in a very expensive wedding gown. She overhears the groom telling a friend; “the only reason I am marrying her is to get her father’s micro-brewery.” She grabs two bottles of champagne and escapes before the ceremony. The groom, Dalton, is a real piece of work whose first wife died after their wedding leaving him a small fortune.
Fate has Payton meeting Noah down near a river where she is enjoying the champagne and being thankful for realizing the situation in time. Dalton is not so easily put off and intends to complete the marriage no matter what! He will have the brewery and the owner’s daughter. Elk Antler Brewing will be his or else. He doesn’t care that Payton has become a Master Brewer.
Recognizing the bullying tactics of Dalton and Payton’s father, Noah steps in to help her. She is enamored with his physical prowess and like any white knight, he is not about to allow the situation to proceed. Sandra Owens keeps a very energetic dialogue going between herself and this seasoned veteran. Noah is not looking for a relationship but circumstances dictate otherwise.
I found this read very entertaining; the storyline didn’t lag. I suggest it to any one who wants an easy, enjoyable read. 5 stars – CE Williams
FTC Disclosure: We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are our honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Animal Fiction, Military Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Print Length: 277 pages
Publication Date: May 25, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: A best selling, award winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed death-defying stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.
A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll, Sandra is a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.
You can connect with Sandra on Twitter @SandyOwens1 and Facebook at SandraOwens.94043. Her website is: http://www.sandra-owens.com
©2021 CE Williams – V Williams