Savannah “Van” Leone has been in love with her friend, Peter, for years. And now Peter is marrying her best friend, Janie. As Janie and Peter head off on their honeymoon, Van grieves by getting super drunk and watching a Rin Tin Tin marathon. She drunkenly orders a German Shepherd puppy from Slovakia off the internet, whom she names Joe. Joe’s vet, Alex Brandt, serves as a very effective distraction from Van’s past and present troubles. But when Peter and Janie return, Van realizes she can’t just erase them from her life and must work to reconcile her new-found independence and happiness with her past.
I bought this book when it was on sale on Audible, thinking it would be cute with some depth and it definitely was. Van is dealing with a lot more than just a lost love, but also the potential loss of a best friend and facing feeling completely alone after her mother’s death. Janie’s mom, Diane, is a bit of a surrogate mom/friend to Van, but Diane is a wreck and a drama queen and pays off Van to stay away from her, her daughter, and Peter. Van is left feeling very hurt and completely abandoned by the friends who were her family in her mother’s absence. Alex and Joe introduce her to the possibility of having her own life, free from the entanglements that come with loving your best friend’s husband and having a cruel surrogate mom. Van’s attempts to completely cut these people out of her life go up in flames when Peter and Janie return from their honeymoon and she finds she has to deal with her past before she can truly move forward and have a future with Alex.
I really liked the romance in this book. Alex was just a genuinely good guy and things were easy and natural between him and Van from the very start. The challenges to their relationship– namely their past baggage– did lead them to take a temporary break from dating, which was also one of my big complaints in the book. I wanted more romance, less drama with the snobby, rich folks Van has been hanging onto forever and who only seem to take advantage of her. BUT as things go on, I came to understand that I was seeing a lot of the issues between Janie, Peter, Diane, and Van through the cloud of Van’s anger and resentment. It became more apparent that these people are Van’s “family” and she needed to work through whatever lingering resentments were there so that she could move on in building new relationships and being at peace in her life. Things maybe get a little impossibly rosy in their resolution, but this is the sort of book I wanted and expected a happy ending from, so I rolled with it.
I also want to highlight is how fun the dog character is. Van and Joe’s relationship reminded me so much of how I felt about my dogs pre-baby. My dogs were my best buds, who wreaked all sorts of havoc in my house, so I liked seeing a similar bond forming between Van and Joe. And of course Joe gets up to some easily recognizable antics for any dog-owner.
I’d recommend this book for those who like chick lit and dogs and maybe fans of Kristan Higgins looking for something slightly more serious. It was a fun read and I will likely pick up Allie Larkin’s other book at some point down the line.