USA Today Bestselling Author
Tucker is always ready to fight for the underdog. So when he’s offered a mission to save the life of a dog unfairly judged and slated for termination, he can’t let her go down without a fight. Plus the dog is in Miami, where his sister lives, and … no way he can refuse to attend her upcoming wedding.
Addie knows her sister lied about being attacked by the dog, but Addie isn’t sure to what extent or how far her sister will go for revenge against an animal she hates. Yet Addie is determined to help the dog who she loves, even if no one else does. Finding a hero to champion her cause isn’t part of her plan, but she is quick to realize Tucker’s value when she meets him.
Now if only he didn’t have a nightmare scenario of his own … one that threatens to take them all down, including the dog.
Right from the start we get to know that saving the war dog Bernie wasn’t going to be an easy task. She’s due to be euthanized for biting a woman, but there’s a lack of evidence and cooperation that makes it all very suspicious.
Tucker is ready to go home to Florida and when Badger tells him about Bernie he’s all for saving her. The question is how to go about it. His soon to be brother-in-law also has a problem on his construction site with a firebug and that just might be the answer.
The first thing Tucker has to do is see the dog and verify it is the war dog he’s looking for. What he finds disturbs him, the condition of the shelter and the manager’s attitude do nothing to ease his concerns. Bernie is immediately wary of the manager, but dismisses him as a threat. That’s more telling than anything else. There’s also the problem of no documentation on the incident. He also needs to interview the women who was bitten, she’s been uncooperative with the efforts made.
We meet Addie, the sister of the woman bitten. She’s trying to find a way to prove her sister is lying. Ironically the dog and her sister share the same name, Bernie. Apparently Bernie pressured her parents to adopt the K9 for that reason and she always gets her way. Addie has mostly gotten away from Bernie’s manipulation and only checks on her when their parents are away like they are now. She’s been visiting Bernie at the shelter as she tries to find a way to save her. This time she meets Tucker.
This is a favorite scene.
As she stepped in, Bernie’s tail wagged madly. Addie smiled, crouched in front of her, and said, “Hey, girl.”
And Bernie immediately bounced to her feet and gave her a huge welcome.
“That’s good to see,” he said. “I was worried after all the reports I’d heard that she had bitten somebody.”
“I’m not worried about getting bit,” she said. “It’s the euthanasia that’s supposed to happen on Friday that worries me.”
“I know,” he admitted. “I was hoping to find a way to stop it.”
“You and me both,” she said. The dog licked her face and then calmed down slightly, and Addie looked at the man. I didn’t introduce myself,” she said. “I’m Addie.”
He reached out a hand and shook hers. “And I’m Tucker,” he said. “I came on behalf of the War Dog Division to see what’s going on here.”
She brightened. “Oh, I’m really glad to hear that,” she cried out. “Can you rescue her?”
“Well, that’s what we’re trying to figure out. It seems the dog is being railroaded, and nobody appears to care that she’s a War Dog. At the moment it’s likely she’ll be put down before I have a chance to make a case for her.”
“That’s something I was trying to avoid.” She frowned. “And I don’t know what kind of pull my sister had to make this all happen, but I hate it,” she murmured, burrowing her face in Bernie’s ruff. “Because this dog deserves better.”
“But when we’re up against the court cases, it’s a hard thing to do,” he murmured. “They get on this pathway, and to get a stay of an order is much harder.”
“And yet this dog didn’t deserve any of it,” she said.
“Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t, but I’m glad to hear that you think she doesn’t.”
“No way,” she said. “It’s just so damn sad.”
“It is at that,” he said, “but we’re not out of hope, as it hasn’t happened yet.” She looked at him with a smile on her face. “If you need any help, count me in.”
He looked at her a moment and then nodded. “Any idea what we can do?”
“No, I was hoping you did.” Her hopes fell, as she realized he didn’t know how to save Bernie either. “If you don’t have any legal pull from the War Dog Division or the government,” she said, “then I don’t think anybody can do anything about her.” She looked around and said honestly, “Sometimes I think, each time I’m here, that I should just steal her and run.”
“If that was the answer,” he said, “I’d do it too.”
She nodded and frowned. “But we’d be seen,” she said. “I don’t know how many cameras they have on this place, but there’s no way to do it without being seen.”
“I hear you,” he said quietly, gently stroking the dog’s ears, as she stretched out on her side, her legs kicked out in front of her and her head on his thigh.
“She accepted you so fast,” she murmured, studying him.
His smile was deep, gentle. “She knows I’m no threat. I’m still trying to figure out your sister’s motivations,” he said, “because that might be the easiest way to get this fixed.”
“I think it’s probably too far gone for that,” she said. “And then my sister …” Addie stopped.
“Your sister what?”
She winced. “I …” Then she stopped again. “You know I’ll hear it all anyway, so it’s probably easier if I hear it from you.”
She shook her head. “There’s no easy about it,” she said. “I don’t know quite what happened, but my sister and this dog did not get along right from the beginning. Bernie— the dog— didn’t like Bernie, my sister, at all.”
“Well, I happen to trust this dog’s instincts more than I do people’s,” he said. “So what’s wrong with your sister?”
She gave a bitter laugh. “So much,” she said, “but one of the biggest issues is she’s just very selfish and very self-centered. And I know that’s a terrible thing to say about my own sister, but it just seems like everything she’s ever done was more about her. She’s very high maintenance.”
“A lot of women are,” he said. “That doesn’t make them bad people.”
“No.” Addie blew out a long hard sigh. “And I sound like I’m a jealous sister, and that’s not what I mean at all,” she said. And, of course, he didn’t understand. Why would he? Besides, he was male, and she gave a bitter laugh, as he had yet to even meet her sister. Bernie was a stunner. Men fell for her all the time. It just blew Addie away that they could bypass all her personality issues and become enamored with what they thought they saw instead of what was really there.
“Do you think she held it against her that the dog didn’t like her?”
“I know so, and she got to really hate her because everybody else loved her.”
“So this was personal?”
“How can it be personal?” she asked in wonderment. “It’s a dog.”
“Was it a competition though?”
She stared at him, her brows crinkled. “Maybe,” she said, “I guess if you want to look at it that way.”
“Well, how else do you look at it?” he asked curiously.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. It just seems a strange thing to say.”
“Maybe,” he said, “but it seems like we have a bite, supposedly a second and third bite, the injury bad enough that we have a doctor’s report somewhere that we have to deal with. And because the owners themselves surrendered the dog and said that she’s too dangerous for them to handle and that they want to put her down, there’s nothing to stop this.”
“Which is why I’ve been fighting so hard. My parents aren’t even in town.”
“And where are they?”
She winced because, of course, this would make her parents look stupid too. “They went on holiday.”
He stared at her.
“I know,” she said. “They don’t handle this kind of stress very well.”
“They applied for and adopted, after quite a process, a War Dog. This War Dog.”
“I know,” she said, “and, when it got here, they thought it would be a solution, but instead it became a problem.”
“Did they get along with the dog?”
“Yes, actually they did. My dad likes her.”
“And yet he was okay for her to be put down?”
“I don’t think that was it as much as the fact that, once my sister got badly hurt, they were horrified and immediately wanted to be clear of the problem. And my dad is a strong proponent of animals, but only if they’re kept properly. And, in this case, he believes that the War Dog was defective from the beginning, and it was a bad deal, so they needed to just get rid of it.”
“Defective?” he asked in an ominous tone.
She shrugged. “I think he thought that it was injured in some way, and that’s why it was being retired, and nobody told them the full facts, and they ended up with a dog that has a screw loose.”
“Right,” he said. He looked down at Bernie. “Does she look like she has a screw loose?”
“I never thought that,” she said quietly.
“It’s too bad you couldn’t have looked after the dog,” he said, eyeing her.
“Wouldn’t that have been nice,” she said, “but I wasn’t given that option.”
“And why is that?” She shook her head.
“Wouldn’t you have been a better answer than killing her?”
“No, because in my parents’ world, they probably thought that I would just get bit too.”
“I wonder though,” he said. “It’s possible, but, as I don’t know what set it off in the first place, I don’t know how to explain whether it would happen again or not.”
“I don’t think it would happen again,” she said. “By the time my parents went for a holiday, my sister thoroughly hated the dog, and the poor thing’s life was not great. I didn’t know who I was supposed to complain to. I kept interfering, but I don’t live at home, and my parents just had enough, and they left Bernie with Bernie. I don’t know what happened after that.”
“So there was a bad situation, which they couldn’t handle, and they just walked?” he asked incredulously.
She looked at him, and then, not knowing what else to do, she answered with the truth. “Yes.”
Dale Mayer. Tucker (Kindle Locations 379-451). Valley Publishing Ltd..
This is a nail-biter of a book as Tucker and Addie race the clock to prevent Bernie from being euthanized. They also find themselves very attracted to each other.
There’s also the firebug to solve and a wedding to attend.
Dale writes these psychological intrigues to keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time and the romance between Tucker and Addie just adds to it all.
This is now my favorite of the series and I can’t wait for the next one!
5 Contented Purrs for Dale!
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Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).
She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!
To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.