Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: The Dog Park by Laura Caldwell

Rating: ★★★★★ stars
Date published: July 29th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Synopsis: 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.
What I Thought:

I loved this book!  I put it on my to-read list the moment I read the blurb.  It also helped I'd been looking forward to a new Laura Caldwell book for a long time.  I was expecting a great story, and that's exactly what I got, plus lots of goldendoodle adorableness.  

Laura Caldwell writes great characters.  I loved Jessica and Baxter.  I wasn't sure about Sebastian or Gavin. Both men gave me different first impressions and my final impression of them was different from what it started out as.  I love that Jessica gave Baxter and other dogs importance as much as she did the humans. After all, the book is titled The Dog Park, and much of the story wouldn't take place if it wasn't for Baxter.

I felt like I read this book really quickly.  There were a number of moments in this book that broke my heart. I cried as I read them.  I really felt like I connected with Jessica and Baxter.  I wanted to connect with Sebastian badly, but it seemed he was destined to remain aloof for most of the book.  I didn't want the book to end when it was finished.  I'd love to read more about these characters and others at the dog park.  I'd like to give Laura kudos for writing such a unique and fresh book.  I am already eagerly awaiting her next book.

Purchase Links:

About the Author
Laura Caldwell is a former civil trial attorney, now Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is also director of Life After Innocence and a published author of 14 novels and one nonfiction book.
Before beginning her writing career, Laura was a partner in a Chicago law firm, specializing in medical malpractice defense and entertainment law. In 2001 she joined Loyola University Chicago School of Law and has taught Advanced Litigation Writing and International Criminal Law among others.
Laura began her writing career in women’s fiction and soon turned to mystery/thriller. Her first book, Burning the Map, was voted as one of the best books of the year by Barnes and Booklist declared “Caldwell is one of the most talented and inventive … writers around,” after the release of The Year of Living Famously and The Night I Got Lucky. The release of her trilogy in 2009 received critical acclaim and nominations for prestigious industry awards.
While researching her sixth novel, The Rome Affair, Laura was led to the criminal case of a young man who was coerced into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. Charged with murder, he sat in a Cook County holding cell for nearly six years with no trial date. After hearing about his case, Laura joined a renowned criminal defense attorney to defend him, ultimately proving his innocence and inspiring her first nonfiction book, Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost in the System and the Two Women Who Found Him (Free Press, Simon & Schuster).
She is published in over 25 countries and her books have been translated into more than 13 languages. Laura is also a freelance magazine writer and has been published in Chicago Magazine, Woman’s Own, The Young Lawyer, Lake Magazine, Australia Woman’s Weekly, Shore Magazine and others.
Inspired by her court victory and the challenges her client faced in rejoining society, Laura founded Loyola’s Life After Innocence, which assists wrongfully convicted individuals and other innocent persons affected by the criminal justice system in order to help them re-enter society and reclaim their lives.
* A copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them in any manner. I have purchased a copy for my own shelf.*

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