Book reviews à la bookworm...The good, the bad, and everything in between.
David Cruz has once more temporary custody of Atlas, the Belgian Malinois he'd helped train in the past. His handler is dead and Atlas isn't taking it well. While the dog pines away after his lost partner, David knows there's more to his friend's death than accidental friendly fire.
While Atlas's bleak mood seems to be easily fixed, thanks to the "dog whisperer" in the form of the sexy blonde sent by the military to rehabilitate Atlas, David's gut feeling about a conspiracy brewing might take a lot longer...
I don't really know how I feel about this book. Undecided come to mind. Because it had its strengths; the hero and his two friends running the dog kennel, everything about Atlas, his training and abilities, the suspense, and the rather awesome final action scene. But it also had its weaknesses; the heroine most of the time (rather whiny, easily scared, and rather incompetent when it came to self-defense or any military talk for someone who grew up with an enlisted stepfather), the heroine's inner monologues (about anything from the dog, her self-worth and self-esteem, the hero and her feelings toward him, and her running hot and cold about his former profession mostly colored by her experience growing up), the spotty pacing, and the rushed romance.
This is the first book by this author, but it won't be the last, despite my reservations about this particular story. I liked the writing, narrative style and voice. It was engaging and lively, it wasn't bogged down by too many fillers, although the pacing tended to slow down in some more "contemplative" scenes.
And yes, I'm curious to read the rest of this trilogy (that looks to become a series in 2018). I liked both co-owners of the kennel David, the hero, was working at and I'm looking forward to their stories.
Also, I want to read more about dogs and their special training, which looks to be a trend in novels lately. Although I don't own a dog, and have no idea of all the work and effort it goes into training dogs for special operations, my mind didn't go blank, I didn't zone off, and I didn't get bored with all the "shop talk". Which it all comes down to the writing and the author's ability to keep things interesting without getting boring. Kudos for that.
This is categorized as a romantic suspense, but since, as I mentioned, the romance left me rather cold (it was a combination of my dislike of the heroine and the overall feeling of haste with which it all happened), I more than enjoyed the suspense part of the story.
It was nicely structured, and well-paced. Progressing slowly and organically, increasing in intensity and tempo with each new puzzle peace uncovered by the protagonists. I thought I knew who the villain was from the beginning, and I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't entirely right either. The reveal came off as a surprise, but very believable with an explanation that actually made sense. And since the big suspense arc wasn't fully resolved, it will hopefully extend into the next two books. And I can't wait to read how everything is resolved.
A solid start to the series, albeit with much room for improvement (especially in the characterization and romance department).