New Same Me!…. Which means, I have 1827261651 books that I am DEFINITELY intending to read right away! That road to hell is paved with what again? Gah! Well, this past week, I got my arse in gear and plucked a newbie to my burgeoning pile to read, Cold Nose, Warm Heart. And, to answer your question, yes. Yes, I did target this book purely because I am freakishly in love with dogs and the most handsomest, best boy on the cover is just adorable and ohhhhhhsocutejustgiveallthekissess– and sure, there was romance too! Not quite enemies to lovers, I’ll say it is more so adversaries to lovers where hero, Caleb is tasked with renovating and flipping an old Miami Beach apartment building for senior citizens into more desirable luxury condos, much to the chagrin of local heroine and apartment manager, Riley and her cohort of neighbors/tenants (both two and four legged of course)! Riley has a poodle, LouLou who gives Caleb a run for his money, interjecting in ways that just made me shake my head. This had it all, snarky banter, sweet romantic tones, and an underlying theme of neighborhood pride and self sufficiency that really resonated with me. The story wasn’t terribly original, but when done well, predictable can still be rather enjoyable. Respect and accountability were also prevalent themes I appreciated being in the forefront. Cold Nose checked the boxes for me so I easily forgive the (very) simplistic plot in favor of appreciating a sweetly simple, humorous story.
“I’m sorry. I love you…”
“You texted me!” she screeched at him, slapping at his shoulders. “You jerk!” She smacked him again for good measure. “How could you text me like that?”
“Wait, wait. Am I in trouble for texting you or not texting you?” He stumbled to his feet, phone dangling in his hand.
If you are a dog lover, you will love the way the author includes the canines as secondary characters. They truly take over scenes in a way that is freaking catnip for pet lovers but still accessible to even the most casual and nonchalant dog person. The core of the story was truly Caleb and Riley first trying to bulldoze, then outwit and then outmatch one another before they discover what I knew all along (duh, they are cosmic soul mates, hell even their sparks are sweet)!
She loved the taste of him and he held her so tight, drinking her in with long kisses that left her gasping. Already his hands skimmed her skin, searching out all the places that made her sigh, lingering when the sighs turned into low moans….He broke away from her mouth just long enough to strip the polo over his head, and then he did the same with her pink T-shirt and made quick work of her lacy blush bra. “You’re pink everywhere,” he breathed out, taking in her rosy nipples, and she turned pinker with the compliment, resisting the urge to cover them with her palms like some shy maiden in an old-fashioned movie.
Suddenly, she was nervous. So nervous that she couldn’t stop the babbling from escaping her lips. “Grams raised me to have a signature color. It makes a woman stand out, she said.” God, talking about her grandmother while they were naked. She was ruining everything. Caleb would make some polite excuse any moment now, and she’d be alone in her bed. Again.
“You don’t need help standing out.” Caleb cupped one breast in his hand and framed her face with the other, catching her gaze and holding her hostage with the heat she saw there…
My only qualm with this novel was that I wish it had a little more edge…more bite. I hope the next novel features a Doberman for the inspiration. There is enough heat to definitely check the “romance” box, but even though I derived a lot of joy from Cold Nose, it could come across as a little too sweet. Like, rattle me a little at least. Then again, in fairness, my romantic fiction tastes skew a little…dark so I have no doubt the sweetness and comedy found in these pages will appeal to the masses.
Author, Mara Wells, is new to me, and from my cursory research, this may be her first novel. I easily spent 90% of this book smiling. I love when a book can just make you feel good. Cold Nose, Warm Heart is the first book in what is to be the Fur Haven Dog Park series and will be released January 28th. Book 2 is Tail for Two, and it features peripheral character (and Caleb’s divorcee brother), Lance and single mom (yessss! Looourrvee single mom trope!) Carrie. *The blurb for book 2 also suggests there may be a “secret baby” vibe going on with Lance and Carrie (argh, hate secret baby- hateeee!) buuut I’m optimistic. Tail for Two is due to release in July and it is definitely on my…TBR!