The Dog Park by Laura Caldwell

A cute story that shows the healing power of a pet,while the humans in his life seem to struggle and obsess over their  mistakes and own issues.   Jessica and Sebastian have relocated to Chicago, his hometown, so he can take a job offer with a newspaper.  As Jessica is a stylist, she can work from anywhere -but fitting into Chicago was hard for her.  A puppy chose them, and the love affair in this little family has begun.

Treating Baxter the puppy much like a child, Jessica would decorate leashes and collars for him, and they both find the love that is missing in their own relationship in the unconditional affection that the puppy, Baxter shows for them both.  When divorce becomes the logical solution, a shared custody option for Baxter is arranged, and he is moving from Jessica’s to Sebastian’s in alternate weeks. 

A chance encounter with a small child, a truck and a teenager with a large youtube following bring Baxter and his star-clad collar and leash set into the public eye, and a demand for gear from pet owners for their own “superdog’ decorated items has Jessica starting a new business.

Jessica needed to find her own life, and stop obsessing about Sebastian: she needed to learn to find her own way and be honest with him, and let go of the anger about his close-mouthed behavior.  Sebastian needed to get over himself and realize that he loves her, and that she deserved to know the truth.  The relationship with the new guy seemed too good to be true – and his irrational attitudes about Jessica’s obsession with the dog (yes – I did say obsession because it often felt as if the dog was the ONLY important character in her life) were understandable, although his behavior was reprehensible.
Most of the book I felt was obsessing over the dog, and the often isolating obsession that Jessica had for Baxter – rather than dealing with her own issues. I love animals, and the story was cute, but as a catalyst for character growth and change the dogs introduced were good – they just ran away with the story far too often.  I did read this story in one sitting though, and I could see that Jessica’s obsession was an understandable reaction to her situation. It was refreshing to see her open her eyes and learn that she needed to make some changes to get her happy.

The Dog Park by Laura Caldwell

Title: The Dog Park
Author: Laura Caldwell
Published by: Harlequin MIRA
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 352
Rated: three-stars
Heat: One FlameOne Flame

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A couple's best friend? 

Stylist Jessica Champlin knows it takes more than a darling goldendoodle to save a marriage. She and her ex-husband, investigative journalist Sebastian Hess, had too many irreconcilable differences for even their beloved dog, Baxter, to heal. So they've agreed to joint custody, and life has settled into a prickly normalcy. 

But when Baxter heroically rescues a child and the video footage goes viral, Jess and Sebastian are thrown together again, and her life takes some very unexpected twists. The line of dogwear she creates becomes wildly successful, and suddenly she's in the spotlight with everyone watching—the press, the new guy she's seeing, Sebastian and the past she never imagined she would face again. Soon there's only one person by her side—and it's the person she least expected. She's willing to open up to a new normal…just as long as Baxter approves

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Laura Caldwell

Laura Caldwell is a Chicago-based lawyer turned novelist. Her first book, Burning the Map, was selected by Barnes & as one of The Best of 2002. Following that, A Clean Slate received a starred review from Booklist. The release of The Year of Living Famously and The Night I Got Lucky prompted Booklist to declare, “Caldwell is one of the most talented and inventive...writers around.”
Before beginning her writing career, Laura was a trial attorney, specializing in medical malpractice defense and entertainment law. She is published in the legal field and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at her alma mater, Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches Advanced Writing for Litigation. She recently received the St. Robert Bellarmine award for distinguished contributions to the profession and the Loyola School of Law. In the summer of 2008, she will be teaching International Criminal Law at Loyola's campus in Rome, Italy.

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