When Craig Williams draws the short straw and has to take his daughter’s adorable new puppy to a shelter after the holidays, it’s just another painful episode in the fall-out of a miserable divorce. He needs to pick up the pieces of his life, and, after a fiery confrontation with Megan Anderson, the young woman running the shelter, he wants to put the whole episode behind him. However, when he keeps finding new ways to reconnect with her, he realizes Megan’s compassionate and caring nature just might be the perfect salve for his broken heart.
Megan Anderson’s least favorite time of the year is the after Christmas regrets phase when families who were so stoked to have a new pet at Christmas have suddenly realized the realities of caring for a fur baby. When the acceptance has set in, those families begin surrendering their pets to shelters like the one Megan runs.
Craig Williams doesn’t want to be the bad guy, but he’s been starring in that role for a long time, and as the bad guy, it’s his job to surrender his daughter’s Christmas puppy to a shelter. The whole process leading up to the surrendering of the puppy has been utterly miserable and if he can just get through this, things may actually start to look for him. And then he meets Megan Anderson at the shelter and his day goes from bad to worse. Not only is she angry about his surrendering of the puppy, she’s livid and lets him know in no uncertain terms exactly how she feels about his entirely selfish decision to give up his pet.
To be sure, Craig is cranky about Megan’s outburst, but he’s also intrigued by a woman so passionate about the animals she cares for. As luck would have it, his daughter changes her mind about the puppy and Craig finds himself right back in Megan’s world and happy to be there. Megan falls instantly for Craig’s daughter and his daughter falls instantly in love with the shelter and wants to become involved. As fa as Craig is concerned it’s a win/win and he has no intention of denying his daughter her passion. If Craig is tremendously lucky, he may even get to experience a little of his own passion.
Megan isn’t afraid to date, but she doesn’t do so all that often. Her job at the shelter is a full-time job for two that she does with the help of just a few part-time volunteers and that leaves very little time for a personal life. Additionally, since he split from her fiancé, Megan has been hesitant to give her attention and/or her heart to anyone. But, Craig Williams is a cat of a different color and he is certainly worth her limited free time and attention. The only real difficulty for Megan is the inclusion of Craig’s daughter in her world. Make no mistake, Megan adores Craig’s daughter, but as she finds out more about their family’s background, Megan is hesitant to risk hurting the youngster.
Turns out, dating on the down low is all kinds of sexy and fun, but both Megan and Craig know they can’t go on this way forever. Not only does Craig’s daughter (and son!) complicate their romance, so do issues at the shelter, and Megan’s own past which she hasn’t completely dealt with. It seems every time Megan and Craig gain a little ground, some fresh hell crops up to knock them back more than a few steps. When the final straw lands on the proverbial camel’s back, Megan does the only thing she knows to do, she hightails it to her mother’s house and seeks the solace and resolution she has not often found there. With any luck and a lot of conversation, Megan will be able to deal with her past so she can address her crazy uncertain future and her feelings for a man she never meant to love.
The Bottom Line: I am a sucker for a book with animals in it and the fur babies certainly helped me to more thoroughly enjoy this book! Both Megan and Craig are very likeable characters who each have a good deal of crap in their respective pasts to make them wary of love and romance. There is plenty of conflict and difficulty in this read to keep the pages turning quickly and enough emotional turmoil to keep one wondering at the possibility of a HEA. Rest assured, dear reader there is an HEA in this one and getting there is so vey worth the time and effort. Though Goodreads lists this read as book one in a series, it can absolutely be read and enjoyed as a standalone.