Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Dude Looks Like a Boxer!


TITLE: Unleashed Holidays
AUTHOR: Victoria Schade
PUBLISHING DATE: September 26, 2023
PAGES: 352   

FROM GOODREADS: When an old rival reappears right before the holidays, a professional dog trainer must decide if the melting frost between them can make up for their ruff past, from the USA Today bestselling author of Dog Friendly.
Chelsea Higgins is doing just fine. She’s heading into the holidays at the helm of a thriving dog training business, and she’s got a mellow senior dog at home to keep her warm at the end of the day. What more could she need? Enter certified gym bro Andrew Chelsea’s former nemesis, and now the newest neighbor in her business complex, who also wants to expand into the vacant space Chelsea’s been eyeing for months. Who cares if it’s the season of joy? Let the turf war begin. 
When an unfortunate (and literal) run-in with Andrew’s lawless dog leaves Chelsea with a bum wrist, the two strike a Andrew will help Chelsea rehab the injury if she’ll work with him to train his adorably uncivilized boxer. 
Their typical bickering soon turns to bantering, and Chelsea finds herself inexplicably drawn to the man she thought she had nothing in common with. As she gets to know Andrew and his parents, she realizes she needs to refocus on her own family, especially with a milestone Christmas speeding toward them. But Chelsea can't help wondering if she and Andrew are training for keeps, or if this unexpected Christmas gift is just too good to be true. 

MY THOUGHTS: I saved this book to read around the holiday season and I really didn't have to.  The book actually encompasses Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas which took a bit of getting used to but definitely assisted in thinking the book was aptly named.  

Chelsea owns a dog training business located at the end of a 3-business building.  When Fall arrives, so does a new neighbor at the other end who is opening a fitness gym.  Chelsea is not only worried about what kind of clientele this will bring to the area, but the business is also owned by a man she has history. Andrew is best friends with her college best friend and his wife.  They all used to hang out together until one night a wedding party went south and left Chelsea despising Andrew for years to come. 

The best thing about this book for me shockingly is the dogs.  Chelsea owns two, a puppy and a Senior, and Andrew is Doggy Dad to a deaf white boxer.  In case you didn't catch that - a boxer!  And given that the author is a dog trainer who has worked for Animal Planet and even helped wrangle puppies for their yearly Puppy Bowl celebration, the dog and training rep in Unleashed Holidays is spot on. I loved how Chelsea managed to put her differences aside and help him train Dude so that he could have a safe and enjoyable life with is human family.  

Now for the love connection?  I struggled a bit with the story but it did pull itself out at the end.  It takes FOREVER to find out exactly what happened between Andrew and Chelsea so many years ago and honestly, it was kind of hard to believe that more than 10 years later, neither has moved on.  Also, there are quite a few side stories including loss of a parent and continuing grief, a pregnant sister and landlord issues - the last which Chelsea could have easily resolved, and I didn't find it quite believable why she didn't just do that.

But as I said, I really enjoyed the resolution of the novel and in the end, it added a bump up in my overall rating.  If you love dogs, then this is a romance you definitely want to consider and if you aren't fully sold on holiday rom-coms, don't worry, because the holidays in this one actually take a backseat to everything else going on and are more like just a setting and not a character in and of themselves.



  1. I'd appreciate the actual attention to the dogs and the time spent in realistic dog training. The romance may not be that exciting to me.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  2. The dogs do sound like the best part of this one. :D

  3. I would read this for the dogs too. So cool you found a boxer story!

  4. Love the cover and it sounds adorable! Off to add it to my Goodreads TBR.