Friday, May 31, 2019

Book Review: A Dog Called Valentine

By Sara Steven

When an unwanted Valentine’s Day present is dumped at the shelter, volunteer Lily decides to foster the poor dog herself. A little attention is all he needs to blossom into a loving pet, ready for his forever home. Plus, helping a poor, rejected animal will distract her from her own problems. Win, win. Right? Wrong. Valentine needs more than a makeover if he’s going to be adopted. He destroys her home, hates to be groomed and when he behaves better for a perfect stranger than he does her, Lily swallows her pride and begs the good looking but quiet stranger for help

After losing his canine partner in a horrific moment that upended his future, sexy and stoic Shane turns to books, walks in the park and remodeling his grandmother’s home. No more intense K9 officer career, no more dogs, no more risks. But it’s hard to ignore the misunderstood mutt at the park and his well-intentioned, but clueless, handler. Shane reluctantly agrees to give her a few tips and tricks, but that’s all. He won’t care. He won’t get invested. And once Valentine finds his new home, his life can go back to normal.

But Shane doesn’t bargain on a new normal in town and, suddenly, Valentine’s Day will never be the same. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I appreciated getting to see both sides of A Dog Called Valentine, through the eyes of both main characters. Told through both perspectives, it enabled me to have a better idea of what Lily and Shane go through, not only in respect to their personal lives, but how they see one another. There is a sense of loneliness for Lily, almost as if she doesn’t feel she deserves love. And Shane has gone through a lot of tragedy, that it’s hard for him to imagine letting anyone in. It’s by pure chance that they meet up, all thanks to the star of the book, Valentine.

I’m a huge animal lover, and reading about this big, beautiful, gangly dog, it made me yearn to add a sweet boy just like him to my already full house! (I have a dog, cat, and guinea pig) I liked that there were honest truths to owning a dog like Valentine, that it’s a lot of work. There were a lot of good animal training tips thrown in, too, which could come in handy with my own dog. So much of the relationship that forms between Lily and Shane can be seen through the relationship they form with Valentine. It’s completely symbiotic.

It would have been easy to create a fluff piece based around the love two people have for a dog, but Snopek has created a truly touching experience, one that focuses on the story of Valentine, and the relationship that forms between Lily and Shane. None of it is easy. I was drawn to Shane’s past, so much so that I felt emotional over quite a few moments he has when coming to terms with his past, and trying to find a way to move past it. No fluff. All depth. I highly recommend A Dog Called Valentine for anyone who enjoys animals, the concept of finding love in the most unusual of circumstances, and for anyone who knows what it’s like to go through the trials of life that shape who you are, one experience at a time.

Thanks to Tule Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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