Blurb from Goodreads
Margot doesn’t have time for love.
Will is afraid to love.
And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.
After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.
Can they put their differences aside to become successful “co-pawrents” and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?
I’m 100% here for the dog!
I’m absolutely stark raving bonkers about all things canine so when this doggie themed contemporary appeared on NetGalley I didn’t have to think twice about requesting it. Plus Sarra Manning is the author of one of my all time fav romantic fictions, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
This story follows two mid to late thirty-somethings, Margot and Will, as they agree to co-PAWrent a rescue dog together… The two both fall in love with the same doggie at a rescue centre and yes it sounds a bit ridiculous that two strangers would agree to share doggie custody from the get go but it makes for a super cute story idea!
And can I just say WOO HOO FOR STAFFIE REP! Staffordshire Bull Terriers get so much bad press with people thinking they are not a safe dog to have around as they are allegedly super aggressive … the only thing aggressive about a staffie is how friendly they are! They are such a misunderstood breed and any issues with them come down to reckless ownership and mistreatment of this adorable dog. There are no such thing as bad dogs just bad owners!
Anyway, in the story Margot and Will agree to share custody of staffie Blossom with her stay in with each of them on alternate weeks.
As the story evolves we see that Margot has been badly burned by love in the past. She’s been on her own since the age of 19 when her mum died, and has been strung along by the men in her life who didn’t share the same desire for children and family as she does. She now doesn’t believe that true love is in her future but instead will settle for someone nice who shares her life’s ambition for family.
We also see Will has a very storied past too. His dad was an abusive alcoholic which has left him with many deep rooted issues about love and belief in his own self worth.
Over the course of the novel Margot and Will through Blossom face their demons from the past and forge new paths for a future together.
This very much felt like a book of two halves for me.
The first half was very light hearted and was all about the inevitable build up to love blossoming between the two lead characters.
It was very cute and sweet… but it got tiresome. By 50% I was ready for the characters to have fallen in love, decided to PAWrent their dog together, and for the novel to be over… I also got super frustrated at Will’s mum in particular and her complete disregard for how Will wanted Blossom to be trained re food and treats; I got less annoyed once her whole backstory was revealed in the second half but I think this was yet another reason that I feel the first half should have been edited further. It was certainly too long and drawn out.
But I kept reading and I’m glad I did because that second half got good!
The second half dealt a lot more with serious issues, especially Will’s past with his abusive father.
And to me this made the second half the stronger half. Yes I knew where this book was heading… I mean we all do when it’s a book in this romantic genre… but the journey to love for Will and Margot was incredibly compelling in that second half.
It was great to see a story show how men don’t have to be the “misogynistic idea of strong” and for Will to have recognised that he needed therapy and therefore to learn develop a healthy strength of mind through therapy and actively opening himself up to all he had feared his whole life i.e. love and intimacy.
And I loved how the book also looked at Margot’s fears about love. How when you’re a woman in your mid to late thirties you really do feel time ticking away on your fertility if children are what you’ve always wanted. It’s great to have books that open the conversation on egg conservation and fertility maintenance for women.
I did enjoy how Will’s family were such an integral part of the storyline but at times I found myself getting a bit confused as to who was who. I thought his eldest sister was a brother for a while, didn’t realise his mum had remarried until late in the book, and at times was unsure if his mum was his mother or grandmother… But it was nice to have such a hectic and vibrant family present in the storyline to contrast with the found family that Margot had.
Overall this was a good read that could have been a great read if the book had gotten to the gritty part a little more quickly.
Still I would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction especially anyone who loves dogs as much as I do.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 21st January 2021, Hodder & Stoughton