Take A Chance On Me
by Susan Donovan, contemporary (2003)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-98375-1


A tremendous improvement over her Knock Me Off My Feet, Susan Donovan's Take A Chance On Me is a breezy and fun read. If I have some difficulty in remembering anything but a cute Chinese Crested dog a few days after I've read this book, maybe it's just that I'm old and my memory's kinda going.

The hero, Thomas Tobin, has gone from an attorney to an undercover operative in his career path, and along the way he's become more than a little cynical about people. However, little does he know that the sailor-hat wearing dog of a recently murdered informant will help him become a little bit more human again. Oh, and in keeping with the Animal Delight theme of this book, there's also a brown cow masquerading as the heroine, the vet Emma Jenkins. While Tobin is fun to read because he's trying so hard to be serious when everyone knows he's mellowing inside, Emma is all about the sour faces and sour stereotypes (bad ex who also happens to be the baddest of them all, duty, obligation, 13-year old daughter of a friend, blah blah blah). The dog brings them together, seeing how Tobin has no clue on how to treat a dog right at all.

Yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm more engrossed with the amusing antics of Tobin and his dog Hairy. That girl Leelee is okay too, I like her despite some cringe-inducing "kids say the wisest things" scenes. I could have kept reading even if the author cheerfully kills off Emma and spends the rest of the book detailing Tobin's Adventures in Dog Sitting. I love dogs. I love men that love dogs, although heaven knows how I ended up with a guy that prefers cats (not sissy Siamese cats, but tigers and leopards). Tobin and Hairy are so cute, and Tobin, despite some stand-out contrived scenes with Emma, is so adorable.

If life is all about the funnies and the ha-ha's, this book will really be alright. A part of me wonders how can this book be that good if I keep thinking that this book would have been better if that brown cow is turned into steak by page 50. But hey, that's just me, a curmudgeon to the core. The world can be sad, sad place, and people shouldn't deprive themselves of funny reads like this one. I like it. I just don't find this book a knock-out read, as I feel that the romance between Emma and Tobin could have been written in a fresher, less derivative roundabout "I want you, I don't think I should want you, I push you away, you think I don't want you, you don't trust men so you don't think you should want me, rinse and repeat" way. Still, there's no harm taking a chance on this one, I guess. That dog is really, really cute.

Rating: 80


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