I'd been looking forward to reading Jackie Bouchard's third novel House Trained for quite awhile. In fact, I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as I could. So when Jackie offered me an advanced reader's copy, I quickly said yes! I thoroughly enjoyed her first two books, What the Dog Ate and Rescue Me, Maybe. I was pretty sure I would enjoy this one, too. And I did!
House Trained is a story about trust, love and being judgemental - with a labradoodle dog named Marie playing an essential role:
"Alex Halstad, a childless-by-choice interior designer and dog mom, is a true perfectionist. But her orderly life turns chaotic when the teenage daughter her husband, Barry, never knew he had shows up on their doorstep...with a baby girl of her own in tow.House Trained is not a light, fluffy chick-lit read. It's what I call women's fiction with complex characters and an unpredictable plot.
While Alex’s dog enthusiastically welcomes the new arrivals, Alex struggles with the loss of her steady routine. She desperately needs peace and quiet to get her business back on track before Barry finds out she’s spent most of their savings. Meanwhile, the arrival of the girls stirs up old insecurities, and Alex can’t help but worry that Barry’s ex will make an entrance too.
With her tidy life a distant memory, will Alex be able to learn from her dog the true meaning of love and acceptance?"
When I first began reading I was wearing my judgey pants. Without talking to her husband, Alex has spent most of their life savings?! In spite of that influx of cash, Alex's business is failing, yet she isn't honest with her friend who works for her?! Um, I was not particularly sympathetic to our heroine.
However, as she is confronted by life's complications I realized she is a good example of "the mirror rule": life acts a a mirror to what is going on inside you. If you're feeling loved and valued, that's what you project to the world and other people. In the case of Alex, she's felt undervalued and judged for most of her life.
Alex is childless by choice, yet feels judged as lacking for that life decision. She then spends a lot of head time justifying herself and judging those women who do have children. She also feels like a runner-up and second best with her husband whose first serious relationship produced a love child (and grandbaby.) Alex feels judged as lacking with her mother and sister, too, and her judgey pants were pretty tight when she relates to her sister in the book.
Honestly, I can't tell you more because I'll give away the plot twists and turns. Suffice to say, about 30% in, I took off my own judgey pants and really began to appreciate our heroine.
Throughout the book, Alex thoughtfully wishes she could be more like her dog, Marie. More accepting and more loving. Actually, I think Alex had already learned those lessons pretty well, however, she really needed to love and accept herself.
I highly recommend House Trained. The characters were well drawn, worth rooting for and engaged me emotionally. When I wasn't reading I found myself thinking about the book and eager to return to it. There's a believable happy ending with no cliffhanger. I enjoyed it enough that I'm sure I'll re-read it. Last, but far from least, the writing was lovely.
As author Bouchard says: "If you love books and dogs and laughter, you'll love my Fido-friendly fiction novels." That's definitely true of House Trained.
Expected publication date for House Trained is October 20th 2015 by Lake Union Publishing. ISBN 1503947122 (ISBN13: 9781503947122) 304 pages.
Pre-order your copy of House Trained at Amazon.
Pre-order your copy of House Trained at Amazon.
|Rita and Jackie Bouchard|
Jackie Bouchard (jackiebouchard.com), a USA Today bestselling author, writes what she calls Fido-friendly fiction - humorous and heart-warming stories about women and the dogs that profoundly impact their lives.
She spent a long time as a creative soul trapped in the body of a practical person. When she was bitten by the writing bug, she managed to leap free of the hamster wheel of corporate America, and now spends her days walking her dog, talking to her dog, and listening for the voices in her head that want their stories told. When the voices don't talk to her, she can often be found staring into the refrigerator.
After growing up in Southern California, Jackie moved to Bermuda, where she met her husband. Now back in San Diego, American Jackie, her Canadian hubby, and her Mexican rescue mutt form their own happy little United Nations.
Jackie's novels include HOUSE TRAINED (Lake Union, Oct. 2015), RESCUE ME, MAYBE, and WHAT THE DOG ATE. Connect with her on Facebook (facebook.com/JackieBouchardWriter) and Twitter (@JackieBouchard). Jackie blogs at poochsmooches.com/
* As noted above, I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not influenced by my dog, Jeffie, who is besotted with Jackie's dog, Rita.
We're participating in the Thursday’s Barks and Bytes Blog hop hosted by 2 Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog. The Barks and Bytes hop is for anything at all and all bloggers are welcome. You don’t have to be a dog blog to join.