In my continued quest to read and review f/f romances, it's almost impossible to capture my excitement when I found the Puppy Love series in the Audible Romance Package. First, there are f/f romances in the Audible Romance Package! [Clicking on the link above will get you a special trial of Audible and support the site. The Romance Package is an add-on that allows you to read unlimited select romance novels!]
Second and even more surprising, one book completely charmed me, its sequels less so. The Puppy Love series by Georgia Beers revolves around an animal rescue in upstate New York. It is, as one would hope, a fluffy series. And I really enjoyed Abby Craden as a narrator.
Note: This is the first of three reviews covering Georgia Beers' Puppy Love series. The remaining two reviews will be published on subsequent Fridays.
This is story of a sort of stodgy Lisa, who works at a no-kill shelter called Junebug Farms, and bright and cheery Ashley, a volunteer at the same shelter. Lisa is rather set in her ways and has learned to separate her emotions from a job that can be emotional minefield, and is content alone. Ashley, on the other hand, feels deeply and openly and struggles with how to get what she wants. After, a dog Ashley loves gets adopted, she falls apart and Lisa consoles her, which is the moment when Ashley begins to break her way into Lisa's life.
Rescued Heart is pretty light on plot, but it is charming so I easily ignored that. The book involves the two characters learning enough about each other to want to try to be together and fumbling through those steps. There is a genuine sense that Lisa and Ashley make each other stronger and better. Ashley begins to stand up for herself, to ask for what she wants, and to figure out what she wants. Lisa learns to let her guard down and allow for help and support. And one of the best things is that they actually communicate with each other instead of letting misunderstandings get in the way.
One potential turnoff is that Ashley is sort of seeing someone else for about half of the book. It's not that she's cheating on her partner of years, but that she has a girlfriend of a few weeks and is afraid of uncertainty and hurting feelings. She isn't a dirtbag using her girlfriend while flirting with someone else. Ashley is working through issues on how to ask for what she wants, even from herself. Her girlfriend is nice and decent, but Ashley just isn't into her and struggles to voice that because it goes against her gentle nature. And this was super relatable for me, the agony of not wanting to hurt someone, but also wanting someone else. It's only with Lisa that Ashley begins to ask for what she wants, including Lisa.
While I was very charmed by the book, there are some issues that are bigger and related to the sequel. The son of a major donor spends significant time at the shelter harassing the women who work there. Some see it as flirting, others find themselves cornered and unable to escape him. If this book was written today, the way this goes down would totally be different, but this was published in early 2016. He corners Ashley, who freezes, and Lisa witnesses part of this and steps in to stop him. The problem that is not 2018-friendly, but is reality, is that Lisa blames Ashley for not standing up to him, accuses her of freezing and needing saving. To Ashley's credit, she calls Lisa on the victim-blaming. In 2016, I would have complained quietly out of sight, but post-2017, I'm complaining to anyone still reading.
In the end, Rescued Heart felt like a warm hug. It also almost made me believe trying dating again was a good idea, which is to say I was charmed, I wanted that charm in my life, and briefly thought the world could be like this. I have since recovered, but still really enjoyed the hug of a book.
content warnings: sort of infidelity, animal shelter issues (no animal death, though), sexual harassment, parental abandonment issues