The daughter of Wall Street's most notorious stock swindler, dog trainer Rylee Pierce has perfected the art of flying beneath society's radar. Prosecutor Cooper Reed is a threat to her carefully hidden truths, but how is a woman supposed to resist a man capable of handling a psychotic Great Dane while charming her out of her panties before she has the chance to blink?
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THAT DATING THING is a story with one foot firmly in the straight forward contemporary romance genre. However, that other foot swings out, crossing the line into romantic humor. The dramatic portions provide an edgy read that keep the reader suspended, turning the pages to see what will happen next. The funny parts provide plenty of giggles and grins. The blending of humor and romance are solid, making for a completely satisfying story. (Oh, and the dog antics are beyond adorable.)
Rylee is a prickly pear heroine who relates better to canines than to people. (Think dog whisperer.) She has a handful of close family and friends who know who she really is, but the rest of the world is kept at bay due to her traumatic childhood. She operates a dog training business for problem animals out of her home. Her compassion and empathy for her pupils, her aunt and the military veterans she secretly helps with her inherited fortune paint the image of a truly admirable heroine. But she is not without flaws. She has secrets. Big Secrets. As the story progressed, I found that I emphasized with Rylee less than Cooper. It seemed like she created a lot of her own problems and maybe didn't realize it.
Cooper "Coop" Reed is an attorney working in the violent crimes unit of the New York City D.A. office. His father is a retired Colonel who recently married Rylee's bohemian aunt and also lives in Rylee's residential building. Cooper is a wonderful guy. He's a little sarcastic and a little suspicious but his crusty exterior conceals a man who cares deeply for his friends and family, especially his father. I particularly enjoyed the way the two men related to one another. The author really seems to "get" how guys communicate.
I've noticed what seems to be a theme with Mackenzie Crowne heroes. (They come from broken homes with moms who ran away from responsibility, so the poor guys are left with lifelong commitment issues.) Cooper is an evolved fellow though. He deals with his insecurities and demonstrates an admirable willingness to change once he realizes that Rylee is the only woman for him. And he has an instinctive rapport with dogs, which I took as another indicator of his emotional intelligence.
Mackenzie Crowne is a talented writer who delivers easy, flowing prose. Secondary characters are balanced and well-developed, including the doggies who provide much of the comedy relief. Plotting is seamless with excellent pacing throughout. External conflict comes in the form of Rylee's notorious past and the threat of discovery. Internal conflict revolves around the fears and insecurities of both the heroine and hero as they struggle to resist an irresistible attraction. Romantic scenes are spicy. (But damn it, I really wanted more! Less talking, more of the horizontal mambo!)
As they must, the couple experiences some setbacks on the road to Happily Ever After. When Rylee's secret is revealed, Cooper has a perfectly understandable over reaction to her deception. Unfortunately, he winds up in "the wrong" with everyone, which I thought was unfair. I think the heroine owed him an apology for not being honest about her past.
The climactic scene with Rylee, Cooper and the press was definitely the best part of the novel—conflict, tension, humor, the hero riding to the heroine's rescue (even though she's doing a more than adequate job of defending herself) and dramatic declarations of "I love you." THAT DATING THING is a great romance that won't disappoint.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
My friends call me Mac. I hope you will too.