by Emily Carmichael, contemporary (2005)
Bantam, $6.99, ISBN 0-553-58635-1
A New Leash On Life doesn't feature angels stuck in doggy forms, but there are still plenty of dogs in this story. Unfortunately, like pretty much every one of the author's romances that feature animals in the background, here the human characters pale in comparison to the antics of those animals.
Jane Connor and her golden retriever Shadow are forced to participate in a documentary about the dog competition circuit after everything that Jane owned was destroyed in a fire. The timing is bad, since she had let her insurance lapsed when the fire struck. Therefore, despite exhibiting a bizarre insistence on being a dog person rather than people person, Jane is forced to interact with people if she wants to keep a roof over her head. Dog trainer and competitor Cole Forest along with his surly daughter with issues Teri are also coming along for the filming, so Jane and Cole have plenty of opportunities to fall in love along the way.
Jane is a dull and even irritating character as she has two personalities in this story: inexplicably prickly and devoid of self-esteem. She is the main stumbling block to the happily ever after, because she just cannot - cannot, I tell you - imagine that someone like Cole will love her. I agree with her, to be honest, but that's because I find her constant need to depreciate herself most annoying indeed. I don't know what her excuse is.
The story is also plagued with some of the most obvious and eye-rolling scenarios designed to force our main characters into a clinch. From vehicle breakdowns to manipulative little girl antics to cute dog antics that just happen to force our hero and heroine together into various "Oops, but aren't we cute?" scenarios, the whole story eventually resembles a gimmicky and obvious episode of Full House.
On the bright side, the dogs are cute. Teri, when she's not trying too hard to be the cute emo plot device from hell, does exhibit some vulnerable and realistic kiddie angst in a creepy Dakota Fanning way.
A New Leash Of Life is still boring though. The author seems to have spent more time making the animals adorable to the point that the human characters come off like necessary evils in the story.
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