Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Racing Hearts (Klein's K-9s #1), by Marcia James

Marcia James, December 2015

Tom Tyler is, or rather was, a champion race car driver. Then he had a crash, and a traumatic brain injury. He has seizures, and may never drive again. He certainly won't be driving race cars again.

He's hiding out in a little cottage on his parents' property, avoiding the media, and everyone else except his parents. He's depressed, and convinced he has no future. His dream is gone.

Then Meg Klein knocks on his door. She's the younger sister of his high school girlfriend, but she's also, now, co-owner, with her aunt, of Klein's K-9s, a successful non-profit which trains service and therapy dogs for people with a wide variety of handicaps and disabilities. She has brought with her an experienced seizure alert dog who former handler, an elderly woman, has died.

He's a hairless Chinese Crested Dog, with hair on only his head, feet, and tail.

Tom's family is between dogs right now, but they've always had retrievers, and he has the expected Tough Guy reaction to a small, handsome dog, but grudgingly agrees to give him a try, for a week. (I have a great deal more sympathy for his immediate decision to call the dog Bob, instead of the name his previous owner gave him, "Baby." Small, cute dogs should never be given names that encourage strangers to treat them as toys or dolls. That's how small dogs get a reputation for being "mean.")

His resistance fades a little more when Bob alerts to the start of a seizure. When, after the seizure is over, Bob offers to shake hands, Tom is completely sunk.

That's the important part, at least to me. Other readers may be more interested in the romance between Tom and Meg, which is nicely done, and feels very real. It does have more explicit sex than I'm comfortable with, but I know for other readers, that can be a bonus. I like Tom, Meg, his parents, her aunt, even Tom's former pit crew captain.

It's a fun, enjoyable romance. Recommended.

Why do I feel so strongly about a service dog? A small service dog? A Chinese Crested service dog? Here's mine, Dora, without whom I would have real problems:

I received this book as a gift, and am reviewing it voluntarily.