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Any book with a cute dog and a military hero has my heart from the get-go, and this book is absolutely perfect for me with its cutie of a corgi therapy dog! Everyone who knows me recognizes the fact that corgis are my favorite type of dog, with their happy smiles and cute wiggle butts, and I loved the role the dog played in this romantic story. With the addition of emotional trauma experienced by both the hero and heroine, it was a perfect blend of meet cute romance and real-life conflict. It brought out so many emotions in me, and I was wishing it didn't end!
Caleb Bradshaw just wants to be left alone, and the being getting in the way of his dream of solitude comes in the form of a feisty corgi named Willow. When he goes to return the therapy dog to her owner, he is thrown off by how attracted he is to Kerry Williams. And when she asks him to do her a favor by watching her father while she goes to work, his chivalrous side comes out to play and soon he is seeing her every day. Her awkward interactions with him and her kind heart soften him, but his past haunts him. On medical leave from the air force, following a traumatic accident that injured him and took away a loved one, he has a lot to work through. Good thing Kerry is stubborn and neither her nor her dog are willing to give up on Caleb.
I really appreciated how deep this book got into the emotional trauma our soldiers go through when in combat. It felt very accurate to what I have heard, and the way it was handled really showed the struggle to recover when someone has PTSD and the toll it takes not only on the survivor but also on their family. The inclusion of Willow the therapy dog made it even cooler for me, because I know there is such misinformation around therapy dogs and their impact for people. And the fact that it was a corgi was doubly interesting, because most therapy dogs I have seen are other breeds. Caleb was a strong man, both inside and out, and you could see the fight in him on each page as he struggled to overcome the barriers he had put around his heart. Kerry and Willow were so good for him. Once Caleb began healing, he was also able to help Kerry, who had emotional trauma of her own from a past abusive relationship. It wasn't the focal point of the story, but it certainly played a huge role in their own budding romance. Caleb had an instinct to protect Kerry, but sometimes it reminded of her controlling ex, so it was a big learning experience for him. And it allowed Kerry to learn the difference between controlling behavior and protective behavior. They both grew so much - it was beautiful!
I had not read this author before, and now I can't wait to read more of her books! Wonderful writing, genuine emotions, and cute furry friends.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**