Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Love Gone to the Dogs (Second Chances #1), by Margaret Daley

Kindle Edition, July 2012

This is a sadly frustrating novella.

Single mother Leah Taylor and small town doctor and mayor Shane O'Grady are both likable characters, and I wanted to like their story. And really, there's a fair amount to like. Leah works hard to protect her family, including cavalierly experimenting grandfather and her socially awkward, brilliant younger son, Joey. Shane became a doctor and came back to his home town of Shady Oaks because he cares about people and the town he grew up in. Shane's mom, also Dr. O'Grady, is a delight for those who want to see strong, intelligent, mature women in their fiction. Joie is a fairly convincing inconveniently bright child, not a cartoon, and his older brother Sam is believably both loyal to and frustrated by a brother he loves but doesn't entirely understand.

But.

I hate it when characters do stupid things for the sake of the plot. Leah and Shane meet initially because they both have dogs. Leah has an intact male beagle, while Shane has a female bichon frise who is in heat. Since the bichon was originally his wife's, and his wife has been dead for three years, the bichon is at least three years old. This isn't the first heat season that Shane has been through with her; it can't be.

It's just not believable that two intelligent adults, both of whom have had intact dogs for years, are so completely surprised and flummoxed by Arnold the beagle's "obsession" with Princess the bichon frise who is in heat, and her returning that interest. They both must have dealt with the problem before, and Shane in particular ought to have been highly motivated to figure out how to keep Princess isolated from male dogs he doesn't want her to mate with.

Yet several crucial events rely on the fact that this utterly predictable behavior is a complete surprise to both of them, and neither one has any idea what to do about it. They can't be this stupid, but they are, because the plot requires it.

The Bad Guy in the story, also, is a complete cartoon, a malicious idiot with no reason for his behavior except that he's stupid and malicious, and he carries unbelievable sway with people who have known him all his life and know what an idiot he is, right up until the plot requires them to come to their senses.

All in all, frustrating, and not worth the time I spent reading it.

I bought this book.