by Debbie Burns
Series: Rescue Me #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
These dogs aren't the only ones in need of rescue
For devoted no-kill shelter worker Kelsey Sutton, rehabbing a group of rescue dogs is a welcome challenge. Working with a sexy ex-military dog handler who needs some TLC himself? That's a different story.
Kurt Crawford keeps his heart locked away from everyone. Well, everyone except the dogs who need his help...and always have his back. But as Kurt gets to know the compassionate, beautiful woman he's been assigned to work with, he can't help but feel a little puppy love...
Trigger warning: animal abuse (dogfighting – not on page, but dog’s injuries after surgery are described), PTSD from military service
This is a sweet opposites-attract contemporary with just a hint of magical realism. It’s the second in the Rescue Me series, but I read it as a standalone. I’m very much looking forward to going back and reading the first book soon!
Kelsey works at a no-kill shelter, and when a dogfighting ring is busted, the responsibility falls on her to figure out which dogs can be safely rehabilitated and rehomed, and how to do it. She initially comes off as a bit overly optimistic and softhearted – she wears a different colored rescue animal shirt each day of the week and has an “I Brake For Turtles” bumper sticker – but she’s actually quite levelheaded. And she has to be, considering she’s signed herself up for housing thirty-eight dogs in a rundown mansion that was donated to the shelter. At one point, Kurt describes her as being “all-heart,” and I think it does fit her quite well. She’s such a kind, loving person.
Kurt is everything Kelsey is not – he’s an ex-military dog handler, and initially wants nothing to do with Kelsey and what he sees as her harebrained, doomed to failure idea. He has near-crippling ADHD that’s soothed by being around and working with dogs. His last tour, though, has taken a toll on him, and he thinks getting away from dog training and life as he’s known it is the perfect cure – until he can’t get Kelsey and the dogs out of his mind. Underneath it all, he’s a squishy cinnamon roll, and watching him shake off the prickly outside as the book progressed was fun. They’re still very much opposites, though, and it’s perfectly encapsulated in an argument over whether the dogs should be named (because they’re all going to forever homes!-Kelsey) or referred to by number (so the volunteers don’t let down their guards around possibly dangerous animals-Kurt). And so begins a lovely dance of crushing and sexual tension interrupted by dogs that need to be fed.
“I had heard about people feeling like a place was made for them, but never understood it. That wasn’t the desert for me, or the jungle, or the post. But this house… When I’m here, I don’t feel like a puzzle piece that will never fit in. When I’m with you, that rings even more true.”
It’s not just about the rescue dogs, though, or about their budding relationship, but also about the house they’re doing the rehab in, which I thought was a fascinating side plot. I loved Ida and Sabrina, the sisters who lived in mansions next to each other, until Sabrina died and left the house – and Mr. Longtail the cat – to the rescue. While most of the book’s POV is from Kurt or Kelsey, there are small snippets from Ida’s POV, and some of my favorite scenes where her telling the history of the house and her sister to them.
As for cons, Kelsey verges on being just too sweet and wonderful. I rolled my eyes a few times at some of her antics, but was able to overlook it for most of the book. Also, between Kurt’s ADHD and his PTSD, I would’ve liked to see him get some sort of therapy. Both seemed pretty bad at times, and I left the book wondering how he’d recover.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I can see where, if you’re not a fan of dogs, this may not be anywhere near appealing, since so much of it deals with their rehabilitation. Other than that, this was adorable and sweet!