It’s such a pleasure today to be helping launch the blog tour for The Dog Sitter by Zara Stoneley: published today by One More Chapter, it’s now available for kindle, with the paperback to follow on 1st April. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy (provided via netgalley).
This is the very first time I’ve read and reviewed one of Zara Stoneley’s books – and no, I can’t believe it either! I’ve wanted to for such a long time – I’ve followed Zara across social media since gorgeous cockapoo Harry was a ball of fluff – but the timing has (frustratingly) never been quite right. So when I saw this tour coming up, I put my name down straight away – and I’m rather delighted I did…
One dog. Two strangers. An unfurgettable romance.
Wanted: someone nice, normal and trustworthy to housesit a beautiful cottage in the Lake District while the owner is away on a business trip. Must like dogs.
Wanting to escape from crap bosses and useless boyfriends, Becky jumps at the chance of being a dog sitter and the perfect escape – rest, relaxation and a very cute pooch called Bella.
But looking after Bella comes with a catch, namely gorgeous, brooding, Chris Hemsworth-worthy Ash James, who claims Bella is his dog and will stop at nothing to get her back!
Becky’s not about to hand over lovely Bella to any Tom, Dick or Ash. She’s determined to watch every move Ash James makes…even if it gets her very hot under the collar.
I really enjoyed this book – I need to say that up front, just in case you have any reason to doubt it because of anything I say next. I’ve always wondered whether an author might have a particular reader in mind while writing: but if they do, I suspect that this author wouldn’t have pictured a rather straight laced (well, sometimes!) sixty-five year old. For the first 50 pages or so, I was really worried that I’d need to write a rather different review – as the humour became increasingly slapstick, the pace more frenetic, Becky’s stream of consciousness narration irritated me more and more, and I wondered quite why she was getting herself in such a state about a guy with sparkling blue eyes with rippling muscles (ok, so maybe I did partly understand that one…).
But then – as it sometimes does – a little bit of magic happened. I became involved in Becky’s story – I don’t think I’ve come across a book illustrator and cover designer in a book before, and her ex (also her former boss) really had treated her quite appallingly, destroying her confidence entirely. And it began to become apparent that musclebound dognapper Ash had considerably more about him than it appeared at first – and when over-exuberant cockerpoo Bella stopped her zoomies for a little while and sat quietly with Becky looking out over a particularly beautifully drawn Lake District valley, and we could all take some time to breathe, I decided that this was a book I was really rather enjoying.
I do think it’s fair to say that it’s aimed at a rather younger reader, but there was such a lot I enjoyed. Bella is just wonderfully drawn, and really provides proof (should you need it) that when humans sometimes let you down, a dog most certainly has the power to save you. And although Becky perhaps salivated over him a little more than was good for her, the relationship with Ash developed into one that felt entirely real and convincing. The humour settled down a little too – a lot of Bella’s antics in particular made me laugh, and the book became really good fun rather than the over-the-top farce I’d feared.
But there are serious and contemplative moments too – and some real drama, when my heart was in my mouth and my pulse beat considerably faster. Another thing I really loved was the setting – the Lake District, the challenging walks, the tarns, the lakes, the quarry, the forests teeming with wildlife, were all quite beautifully done with descriptions that brought them vividly to life. And at one point there’s a nice touch when we meet Becky’s family – we’ve only seen them through her eyes up to that point, and I enjoyed the way the real relationships turned out to be rather different than expected. And the book’s conclusion really is excellent – up-to-date, original and different, all very plausible, well handled and really heartwarming.
I’m not sure if this is a book everyone of my age would love, but this pensioner very much enjoyed it – and I’d be very happy to read more from Zara Stoneley.
About the author
Zara Stoneley is the USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date. Born in a small village in the UK, she wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true.
She writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.
Zara now lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a lively cockapoo called Harry, and a very bossy (and slightly evil) cat called Saffron.
Zara’s bestselling novels include The First Date, Bridesmaids, No One Cancels Christmas, The Wedding Date, The Holiday Swap, Summer with the Country Village Vet, Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage and the popular Tippermere series – Stable Mates, Country Affairs and Country Rivals.