This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.
I enjoyed this small town romance overall. I have been wanting to read Lia Riley for a while and once I read the description for this book, I knew that I wanted to give this one a try. It was a light-hearted, fun story that went pretty quickly for me. This is the first book in a new series and I just loved the little town of Everland, Georgia.
Pepper has just relocated to Everland for a new job. She shows up for her first day of work and realizes that there is a major problem and she doesn't have the job after all. So now she is in a new town with few funds and no job. When she is offered a job as a dog walker by the town vet who happens to be her next door neighbor, she needs to overcome her fear of dogs quickly and take the position.
Rhett is the local veterinarian. After a previous romantic mishap, he does his best to stay out of local gossip. He helps out the new next door neighbor and is instantly attracted but wants to keep things private. He is very much a part of the local community with his best friend serving as the mayor. Everyone in the town seems to be waiting for cupid to catch Rhett.
I liked Pepper and Rhett. Pepper was pretty tough and was able to make the most of the situation she is in. She does take on more responsibility than she probably should and tries to always make practical decisions. Rhett was such an all around good guy. It would be hard not to like him. Together they had a lot of chemistry and the more they were together the more I liked them as a couple. They really did seem to get closer as the book progressed and by the end of the story, I could really feel their connection.
The book did have a couple of issues. Pepper has a huge fear of dogs at the start of the story. It seemed to take her all of 30 seconds to get over that fear and become a pro dog-walker hanging out at the local dog park. She even adopts a puppy pretty quickly after shedding her fear of dogs. To go from can't stand to be near a dog to must adopt this dog in the span of a few pages seemed crazy. I am sorry it just doesn't work like that.
I also was pulled out of the story several times by some weird phrasing. It seemed like maybe the author was trying to be funny but it felt forced. There were several times that I had to stop and go back over a passage to make sure it really said what I thought it did. I didn't notice this happening as much towards the end of the book but it seemed to happen a lot at the beginning of the story.
I would recommend this book to others. Despite a couple of issues, it was a really fun romantic read. I look forward to future installments in this series.
I received an advance reader edition of this book from Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via NetGalley.