All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Life On The Leash by Victoria Schade

on December 6, 2018

Life On The Leash
Victoria Schade
Allen & Unwin
2018, 343p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Cora Bellamy is a woman who thrives on organisation. She’s successfully run her own dog training business for years, perfectly content with her rescue pitbull as the main man in her life.

But all that changes when she meets Charlie Gill, the hottest client she’s ever had. The only problem? Charlie’s taken. Luckily, Cora has a new friend — the lovably geeky Eli Crawford. He’s always there to help Cora with her problems, including her love life. That’s why she’s shocked to realise that, even as things start heating up with Charlie, there might just be a spark between her and Eli, too.

As Cora’s life gets more tangled up than a dog walker’s leashes — and as she prepares to audition for a dog training TV show that may change her life — she has to figure things out before it all goes straight to the dogs.

Charming, witty and warm-hearted, Life on the Leash inspires you to cheer for every underdog looking for love.

I was really intrigued by this when I read the synopsis. I’ve been involved with rescue animals before – I’ve adopted dogs from a rescue organisation and I’ve fostered cats/kittens for another. Having an MC as a dog trainer sounded really interesting, not something I’ve come across many times before.

Cora is passionate about animals and about helping people get the best out of their dogs. She doesn’t want to “fix them” but rather work with dogs and their owners to incorporate positive training and a connection that help them get the best out of the relationship. Her methods are very gentle, in direct contrast to a popular TV trainer who is more about pack control and dominating them and teaching them who is boss. Cora despairs of dog owners who follow this TV trainer and she’s up front about those not being her methods and if that’s what people are after, she’s not the trainer for them.

After being single for a while, having broken up with her former fiancé Cora is now ready to kind of get back into the dating game. This part of her life is greatly complicated by a handsome client Charlie, who is charming and seems just as passionate about animals as she is. However Charlie comes with a girlfriend which puts Cora in a difficult situation.

Okay so a lot of this was cute. I really liked Cora’s approach to her clients and how she felt about dogs and her bond with her own dog, a rescue pit bull. Her relationship with her best friend was supportive and really enjoyable as well. I also liked a couple of her clients, including an Aussie named Fran but unfortunately, that was kind of all I liked. Oh wait, I also liked Eli, I think he was fantastic. Even if his little freak out at the end was a bit weird.

Charlie is a predator from first appearance, hidden behind a charming smile and an affable demeanour. It’s almost embarrassing how clueless Cora is when it comes to him. The fact that Cora was even looking at him as an option was really off putting, because she first meets Charlie’s long-term, live in girlfriend. Cora almost completely loses her mind over Charlie, continually trying to convince herself that he’s special and a good guy, despite all evidence to the contrary. It honestly did Cora no favours every time she was near him, she seemed to completely lose herself just because he was cute. It made me struggle with her as a character, because it seemed so at odds with the other parts of her.

Ultimately I feel like this book was just trying to include a little too much and as a result, several of the plot lines suffered because it was so busy. The whole reality TV show with Cora’s ex-fiance could probably have been excluded because in all honestly, it added absolutely nothing to the story line save a way to introduce Cora auditioning for her own reality show, but that could’ve quite easily been done without needing that. It takes up far too much of the plot for zero pay off as well. Also there is a lot about the TV dog trainer that Cora doesn’t like which also really doesn’t get any pay off. Cora writes a blog that lambasts him but there’s no confrontation or conversation between the two, there’s no culmination of this energy spent on him.

Life On The Leash showed promise and there were a few things that I really enjoyed and I particularly liked the message about working with your animals and Cora’s training techniques. I appreciated her devotion to her own dog and her dedication to trying to save as many animals as she could, in as many ways as she could. However Cora herself was often frustrating as a main character, distracted by something shiny and inappropriate. I would’ve liked more time spent on the built of a genuine romance with someone who didn’t have a girlfriend instead of a hasty tacked on bit at the end. So a bit of a mixed bag here – some good moments and some positive stuff but also quite a bit that didn’t work for me as well as I had hoped.

6/10

Book #197 of 2018

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