|If you like dogs, particularly large unruly dogs, then this story is right up your alley. Even more, if you like a romance between two people who need each other to feel alive and connected, then you will like this story.
We can Blame It On the Dog since the two main characters would not have met without Axel, a large mix of terrier, chow and some other type. He is out of control, often destroying things in the apartment he shares with his master, Drew, age 12 and Drew’s mom, Selena Milano. He is a terror when walking through the San Francisco neighborhood, trying to mow people down and going after the fruit at Sam’s fruit market. Something must be done.
Enter Jack Quinn, dog trainer extraordinaire. Actually Jack runs a local center for dogs. He is somewhat of a scientist, believing in the dog pack mentality. He believes that you must train your dog to understand that humans are the pack leader and then they will obey easily and be more easily controlled. He has spent a lot of time and energy developing his center and this helped ground him after he lost his wife to cancer.
Now, even though Selena has seen how Jack controls dogs, she is hesitant to accept his services. She is single and a mom, protective of her son. She has never married, having gotten pregnant during an ill-fated affair with a married man while just out of college. She is also convinced she must be self-reliant, something her parents instilled in her, almost to her detriment. And she is mightily attracted, a fact that scares her. Luckily her friends and her neighbors leave her no choice. Either Axel gets trained or he leaves.
Jack is also attracted. But first, he knows he can help her dog and her son, who seems a little withdrawn and shows signs of being a bit timid. Jack knows that helping the owner take control often helps the owner as much as the dog. So he perseveres to convince Selena and a sullen Drew that he can help. He will deal with his attraction to Selena once that business is taken care of. And he is attracted, for the first time since his wife died. Jack is also a bit leery. He recognizes that Selena comes as a package deal…with a ready-made family. Jack grew up with a strict and basically unloving stepfather, so he knows how important that relationship can be and he doesn’t want to mess up.
This is a nice story and one you can sit back and enjoy. It is fairly predictable, at times, but Jack and Selena are well-defined, making them fun to watch. Old friends from the “Singles …with Kids” series show up, as this is the last of the books about single parents all finding their mates. Drew is at times sullen and full of that pre-teen angst, and at others, he is just a kid trying to deal with things life throws at him and his mom. The ending is a little corny, but hey, it is a romance.
Blame It On the Dog will be well appreciated by dog lovers, as well as those of us who are only mildly fond of dogs. It will also be appreciated by all who are looking for a nice little romance about some genuinely nice people looking for happiness.