Animal portrait painter Mia Chambers and architect Ben Thomas have volunteered at the High Grove Animal Shelter for years, and they share a complicated history. Ben has secretly loved Mia all this time, but she was married to his best friend. Now she’s newly widowed, with a young son, and Ben doesn’t know how to tell her what’s in his heart. All he can do is stay close, help her as much as she’ll let him, and watch for the right moment to bare his soul.

When a dozen adorable border collies get dumped in St. Louis’ biggest park, everyone at the shelter mobilizes for a large-scale rescue. Rushing to the park to round up the frisky collies, Ben and Mia unexpectedly plunge into a new phase of their entangled lives. Who knew that opening their hearts and homes—to animals in need and to each other—would lead to so many upheavals…and new beginnings…?

Titles in the Rescue Me series include —  A New Leash on Love – Sit, Stay, Love – My Forever HomeLove at First Bark

Title:  Love at First Bark
Series:  Rescue Me #4
Author:  Debbie Burns
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Published:  July 30, 2019
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
My Rating:  4.5 stars

I have had such an emotional, joyful time with the Rescue Me series by Debbie Burns, and the fourth title, LOVE AT FIRST BARK was no exception to that ongoing rule of awesome stories, people and animals.

Mia and Ben have had a connection for nearly a decade.  Ben was captivated by a speech she gave in college and his best friend, Brad was to set up a meeting between them.  Unfortunately, Ben’s dad became ill and he had to miss that meeting – leaving the way open for Brad to step into his place.  They dated, married, had a child, now seven-year-old Ollie, and throughout it all, Ben was still part of the picture in the background as Brad’s best friend, Mia’s friend, and little Ollie’s godfather.  He never stopped caring for Mia yet has learned to hide those deeper feelings over the years.

In the midst of divorcing her cheating husband, Brad suddenly died leaving behind unresolved anger and hurt, as well as the devastation of losing his father that Ollie is experiencing now.  Ben is there throughout it all offering support, friendship, and a shoulder to lean on for both Mia and Ollie.  He’s hesitant to make any changes to their relationship believing it’s just too soon.  But coming to the rescue of some furry pups changes everything.

Someone has dumped a dozen Border Collie pups and their mom in the local park and the volunteers of the High Grove Animal Shelter step up to round up puppies and foster them among themselves.  In the middle of chaos, Mia finds herself with a momma dog and a pup to tend to, and confusing feelings for Ben that she’s always ignored in the past.  Maybe the future has been right there alongside her all along.

LOVE AT FIRST BARK is full of emotions, revelations, lots and lots of adorable puppies, and two people finally realizing that they have a second chance at finding a love that can survive a lifetime with each other.  But first, they have to get past the craziness that is their lives right now with former in-law troubles, discovering how to help a young child through the loss of a parent, and learning that the friend who has always been there is really the man of Mia’s dreams.  Watching them navigate through it all is an emotional, enjoyable journey – one that I’d not hesitate to recommend to any Romance reader.  I had fun back in this world again — and that’s the whole point.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story.  It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

LOVE AT FIRST BARK releases on July 30, 2019.

Available in paperback and for the Kindle