Megan Hampton is a professional dog-walker whose clients love and adore her. Steele Gage has been knocked out by life, suffering a career-ending knockout in a title bout. Told he would never fight again and dropped by his managers, Steele is forced to find work for the first time in years. Megan takes pity on the shy, wounded boxer and enlists his help in walking some of her overflow clients. Steele takes to the job with enthusiasm.
Megan is in for a big surprise when she misinterprets his friendliness for affection. When Steele says he wants to be “just friends,” Megan retreats from romance altogether. That is, until Steele realizes the mistake he’s made and sets out to woo Megan once and for all. Fur flies and paws pounce in this sweet, cozy, sexy adult contemporary romance novella perfect for anyone who’s ever found love when they least expect it!
Megan Hampton reached instinctively for the vast leash collection she kept on a paw-shaped (natch) wooden hanger by the front door of her two-bedroom apartment. Then she realized… her first “client” wasn’t until after lunch!
Sighing contentedly, like a kid who wakes up to a sunny snow day and no school, Megan grabbed her umbrella and walked out the door alone. Blissfully, completely and happily alone.
It felt strange not having up to half-a-dozen dogs tugging her along, holding her back, tugging her this way, yanking her that way, to say nothing of the snuffling, wheezing, yapping, nipping and barking that was the soundtrack to 90% of her life.
Instead she walked out the front door of apartment 2-B in the Jamestown Arms and past the empty pool, turning right onto Summer Street on her usual route to Sunset Park a few blocks away.
It was a cool, blue spring morning, the sun freshly risen over tiny Palmdale, California. Not quite vineyard country, not quite Hollywood, Palmdale was a pretty, scenic town, home to the Palmdale Plastics Company Headquarters, four Hamburger Huts, three Taco Teases, two Smoothie Shacks and one movie theater.
Still, it was home and had plenty of parks, tree lined sidewalks big enough for plenty of dogs and, oh yeah… plenty of dogs. And thank goodness, seeing as Megan was founder, CEO and sole employee of Megan’s Mutts, a “premiere dog walking outfit” – or so it said on her business card.
But today she was just Megan, civilian, citizen and stroller, quietly drifting through downtown Palmdale in her favorite pink and grey running shoes and matching yoga pants and hoodie. Her brown hair was up in a ponytail, simple and efficient as it swung left, then right, with each healthy stride.
Megan didn’t necessarily need to walk for exercise. 80% of her day was spent up and down these same streets, shuttling all varieties of furry mutts around town, but it was kind of a habit now, her day plotted out in hour-long blocks, with half-hour breaks in between.
8 AM was usually her first “shift” and so, dogs or no, her legs were ready to move. And move they did. Past the Cappuccino Café, the News Hound Bookstore, the bodega on the corner and the hardware store, Megan was just turning on to Archer Avenue when she nearly conked heads with Mr. Muscles.
Well, that’s what she called him anyway – and for obvious reasons. Dude was built like a walking gym ad, not an ounce of fat on him, muscles lean and tight and covered in rough, black in tattoos. Usually he crossed the street to avoid riling up whichever dogs she was walking, but he must have been in a hurry because today he nearly knocked her on her
“Sorry!” he said, voice surprisingly gentle for someone so lean, cut and menacing. “I… I was trying to avoid you but my body wasn’t cooperating.”
MY TAKE ON THE BOOK ( Two Thumbs Up)
This is a debut novel by a new voice in the romance world. Olivia Mercer has cobbled together two of my favorite elements, dogs, and love. She goes one step better by making her characters likable. Megan Hampton is a dog walker, who befriends a down and out boxer, Steele Gage. What starts out as friendship doesn’t necessarily turn into the romance. The novel isn’t just about two people meeting, but about facing your fears and following your dreams. It is a heart-warming novella that is sure to delight anyone looking for a fun, cozy read.
I was given the book in exchange for an unbiased review. I thought I’d like it, but hadn’t realized how much I would.
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Olivia Mercer is a romantic at heart, author of contemporary romance. When not writing, Olivia savors great coffee, weekend jaunts to local vintage markets, as well as the not so occasional glass of chardonnay.
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