Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stepdog - A Different Type of Blended Family

TITLE: Stepdog
AUHTHOR: Nicole Galland
PUBLISHER: William Morrow Paperbacks
PUBLISHING DATE: August 4, 2015

FROM GOODREADS: When Sara Renault fired Rory O'Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—Irishman, actor, musician, reformed party-boy— impulsively leaned over and kissed her . . . she kissed him back. Now, as Rory's visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they've gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it's all grand . . . except for Cody, Sara's beloved dog from her troubled previous relationship. Sara's overattachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped—and it is entirely Rory's fault. Desperate to get back into Sara's good graces, Rory tracks Cody and the sociopathic dognapper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they'll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them through the heart of America.

I couldn't wait to dive into Stepdog by Nicole Galland because I love a good pet story. Especially when it is woven into a good contemporary setting. Overall Stepdog did not disappoint even though I found a few aspects of the book irritating.

There were many things I loved about the book. First of all, the cover is great. The dog on the front seems pretty spot-on for how Cody is described so one of my main pet peeves didn't rear its ugly head (I hate it when dogs on covers do not resemble at all the dogs in the book, or worse yet, there are cute dogs on the cover who are never even mentioned in the book). Secondly, the plot of the books is a pretty fresh concept and not one I have seen overly done lately. The last 1/2 of the book flew by and the conclusion was satisfying, even if the first part was a tad slow. The action takes off right from the beginning, but I fear it overshadows the readers ability to form strong connections to some of the players. In addition, Galland has a unique writing style which took some getting used to in the beginning, but eventually came naturally.

Now for some of the irritants. Rory is the narrator of the book and he is desperately in need of a green card. He and Sara, after working together for a while, go one one date and when she learns he plans on marrying a family friend to get a green card, decides they should just get married themselves rather than her having to date a married man. Talk about impulsive...and ill planned...and did I mention, probably stupid? However, they do and the novel proceeds from there.

Some might say Sara is overly attached to her dog Cody, but as an animal lover - I get it. Unfortunately Rory doesn't. He becomes irritated, jealous and throughout a lot of the book, criticizes Sara for her love for Cody. In my opinion, he should probably never be a pet owner, but it's a contemporary romance so it happens overnight. I never really liked Rory throughout the book. His character develops as the novel goes on, but for me, Rory never hits the mark. I certainly never liked him enough to impulsive marry him so he could get a green card. I did eventually like him enough that I would probably stay in touch with him once he was deported back to Ireland. I had some difficulty understanding why someone who clearly loves her dog, didn't see from the beginning that the situation with Rory was doomed, or at least seriously challenged.

I do have to mention there are some great side characters in the books. Alto is a wonderful transgender addition and many of Sara's friends come from diverse backgrounds which really added to the texture of the book.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys animals, romance, or contemporary novels. There are also some humorous aspects, but you kind of have to like Rory more than I did to appreciate them. I feel this book is a strong 4 star book and it reminds me of the works of Lucy Dillon, who is one of my favorite authors.

I received this book from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.


COYER SCAVENGER HUNT CHALLENGE #4:  Read a book with a red item on the cover.

BOOKER T's THOUGHT AND RATING:  Mom says to make this quick because the entry is already too long.  Cody is great (although I think she has a male name).  She is fun, even if somewhat needy.  I feel sorry for Cody because she has a lot of stupid humans in her life.  She should come live with me and my brother.  Cody gets 5 PAWS !

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