Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.
Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.
As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…
Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.
Ag scratched his ferocious beard. “Could be the gals are good for you, man.”
“You know, the dog and the blondie sitter. She’s a nice looking girl. Great smile.”
He didn’t answer, but quickened his steps. Ag trotted to keep apace.
“Hear she’s coming up. When?”
He offered a casual shrug. “Not sure.” Actually, he’d been wondering the same thing, checking his phone for texts about her progress. He’d even called once and gotten her voicemail.
No distractions, remember?
They were met on the field by the first baseman, Jean, and Tyler, their impossibly young second baseman. Kid hardly looked old enough to shave, undisguised eagerness written all over him. Cal used to be the young hotshot on the team. When had he been replaced in that category?
“Here’s another one,” Tyler said, laughing at his cell phone screen while Jean and Ag crowded in to see. “She’s at some diner. Hashtag is #Tippysighting. Aww man,” he said, laughing so hard Jean grabbed the phone from him. “Dog’s wearing those socks. That just kills me.”
“What are you talking about?” Cal swiped the phone from Jean. The picture was of Gina holding Tippy, surrounded by a group of diners all holding their dogs. Each and every dog was wearing baby socks and one proud owner of a fuzzy mutt held a signs that said, “Go Falcons.”
“How . . .?” Cal started.
Tyler wiped his eyes. “Apparently, the owner of the diner has some sort of rescue group. He recognized your girl and Tippy and he called up his people. They started some sort of weird Tippy fan club.”
She’s not my girl, Cal wanted to say. He found he could only stare at the photo of Gina, a pink knit cap on her head which matched the flush on her cheeks and that smile. Oh, that smile. It surged through him, right to his heart with a feeling better than pitching a perfect game. He shook his head. Nothing was better than pitching a perfect game. His team-mates would take him straight to the looney bin for even suggesting it.
Ag nudged him in the ribs. “Good for you, like I said.”
The short take
If you’re after a light contemporary romance featuring a loveable canine and a pro baseball team, then this could be just your ticket. The writing didn’t always connect me with the characters as deeply as it could have, but I enjoyed the warmth of Gina’s character, and the way in which a gentle friendship grew between Cal and Gina, despite its rocky start. And, of course, Tippy 🙂
Prior to reading this book I had read other reviews that gave me the impression that this was going to be a more humorous read than it actually was. Well, that and the ‘quirky out-of-work’ school teacher part in the blurb, perhaps. Personally, I didn’t find Gina quirky. Warm, caring, friendly, personable – yes. Quirky – not so much. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the read; just that it was different to what I was expecting.
Nor did Cal Crawford strike me abrasive so much as single-minded and a bit closed off. His mother passed away six months ago, and the way he figures it, pitching is all he has left. Even that wasn’t so hot at the end of last season, but he’s not going to let anyone take that away from him. He’s determined to concentrate on getting his form back, and looking after a thirteen-year-old ‘dachshund mixed with something taller and wider’ doesn’t exactly figure in those plans.
Enter Gina Palmer. She’d much rather be teaching a kindergarten class, but a little mishap on a class field trip has left her unemployed. That puts her in the perfect position to fill in as a dog-sitter for the rich and famous while her cousin Lexi recovers from some minor surgery. Except that Cal Crawford doesn’t want her to take care of Tippy. He wants her to take Tippy for good. He’s even willing to pay for new accommodation that will allow her to keep a pet. Not going to happen.
Notwithstanding the slightly rocky beginning, Cal and Gina slipped pretty easily into a quiet sort of friendship. Much of the conflict in the novel was derived from Cal’s family situation once they arrived at his mother’s ranch, and the realisation that just as Cal was committed to baseball, Gina was passionate about getting another teaching position – and felt she didn’t belong in the world of celebrity sports.
As I said, even though this book didn’t have the upbeat, humorous tone I was expecting, it was still an enjoyable read. I loved that Tippy made a bit of a name for herself, and I thought Cal’s and Gina’s personalities balanced each other out well. The only negatives for me were that some of the romantic moments headed into cliché territory, and I felt as though the ending kind of came out of nowhere; a little bit as though we’d missed some connecting scenes that showed us how the characters, Cal in particular, grew into the resolution rather than suddenly arriving there.
All in all, a light, enjoyable read – particularly if you’re a canine lover.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Harvest House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
Release date: 1 April 2016
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Author’s website: http://www.danamentink.com/
Presented with the chance to achieve her dream of becoming a full-fledged literary agent, Stephanie seeks to retrieve a coveted, handwritten manuscript from reclusive author Agnes Wharton. Things go awry when Agnes’s dog, Sweetness, runs off during their meeting. The distraught author gives Stephanie an ultimatum: find her dog or Stephanie will never see the manuscript.
While combing a nearby campground for Sweetness, Stephanie meets Rhett Hastings. Unbeknownst to her, he’s a former CEO and bazillionaire who walked away from the very world she’s trying to enter. Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog, and so begins a high jinks-filled adventure in a thirdhand RV.
Will Stephanie ever obtain the elusive manuscript and launch her career? Or will she see that maybe, just maybe, Rhett’s choice for a simpler life is really what she needs?