What Austin Lloyd lacks in academics, he makes up for in his love of the animals who frequent his pet salon. He’s not lucky in romance, though, and his family would like him to settle down with a good man. Austin—and his golden retriever, Maggie—couldn’t agree more.
Evan Partridge isn’t good at letting people in. His messy family life and the past that’s shaped him aren’t worth bringing up. But his pug, Dexter, sure likes the pet salon owner.
Austin and Evan get off to a rough start, but being friends soon turns into something more. Unfortunately, Evan’s secretive behavior nearly does the relationship in, and the budding love affair almost crashes and burns when Evan’s troubled sister shows up on his doorstep.
Not speaking to each other is killing them both, but Evan doesn’t know how to keep Austin and help his sister at the same time. He just knows he has to try. Winning back Austin’s trust back, however, is going to take a whole lot of work.
I’ve got to preface this by saying I’m a sucker for anything with animals. O’Shea had me at the mention of a pug and a golden retriever. And they’re awesome (that’s right, awesome). A lot of the humor in this story is centered around the two dogs, and it’s the little pug that allows Evan to meet Austin. They act as a good parallel relationship for the two men, as well.
Which, right, we should talk about the human relationship in this story. It’s sweet. It starts off completely on the wrong foot, and I love that. It’s not swept under the rug in five seconds flat. Austin has to prove that he isn’t trying to truly scar Evan for life, and Evan finds himself irritated and confused, but it pulls him in. And I loved Evan. He needs everything to be just so, and when it’s not you can see the panic building. I found him to be very relatable, and his struggle to be not over done but not under exaggerated. O’Shea presents a nice balance in this story.
The background characters are (mostly) lovable. The friend group dynamic is a big part of the story, and it makes a difference. The one thing I would have liked to see in this story was an ending that didn’t feel so abrupt. I’d have liked to see a glimpse into the future, or at least one of the loose ends tied up a bit.
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