Sullivan Haines is a dancer with Broadway aspirations. Unfortunately, he’s not had much luck at auditions, so he works at a dance studio teaching people how to foxtrot and hip hop. The light of his life is a pit bull called Pizazz (affectionately known as Pizzy), and Sullivan often brings her to the dog park to run off leash and play with other dogs. It’s at that dog park where Sullivan notices a handsome man jogging with an adorable yorkie in tow. Not shy at all, Sullivan calls attention to himself, and when the man approaches, their dogs begin to get along famously.
Duane Hart is having a tough time. His live in girlfriend left him in the middle of the night, taking the furniture and everything else she considered hers. The only thing she left behind is her yorkie, Tiberius (known as Tibby), the dog she insisted she have but became bored with. Duane’s lost in his own head when he hears the “yoo hoo!” from the cute man on the bench. The two of them chat while Pizzy and Tibby play, and they hit it off as well as their dogs.
Everything seems to be going well until Sullivan gets some bad news. When he discovers what happened, a series of events begins chipping away at the new couple’s bliss. Will they press through together, or will their relationship end before it has a chance to blossom?
I love books that begin with the MCs meeting thanks to their pets. I eagerly grabbed Love is a Walk in the Park because of that love. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with it like I’d hoped.
Let me start with Sullivan and Duane. While Duane is likable–hard working, loyal, a caring boyfriend, and adorably attached to Tibby–I simply couldn’t make myself like Sullivan very much. When he goes to the bathroom, he refers to it as tinkle or piddle. He’s obsessed with clothes, being fat, and his hair. Here’s an example where he’s about to meet up with Duane in the park and he’s discovered an elderly man wearing the same type of shoes he has on.
“Oh shit! He’s here. Oh shit! I hate my shoes! He’ll think my feet are heterosexual, I just know it!”
Same paragraph, further in:
“He’s so delicious. Look at those glasses. If they’re not screaming ‘Kiss me Sullivan!’ I don’t know what is. I love swarthy men in glasses. Oh look, he’s worn a blue dress shirt. O. My. God. I want this man to impregnate me now. No tie, just the shirt and jeans. Yum, yum, yum.”
I get the feeling Sullivan was supposed to be funny, but it seemed flat and forced to me.
I did like the authors’ writing style. The use of alternate POVs was a good choice. I also like the way Duane has his roommate and friends, and Sullivan has his own roommate friends, and I enjoyed reading how they all began to mingle until everyone was theirs. There’s some great banter between the men and their people. Both roommates are supportive…funny when they need to be, but they obviously care.
Now, I mentioned Sullivan getting some bad news. I don’t want to give too much away, but that bit of bad news leads to some very serious (and timely) issues. Julian, Sullivan’s boss at the dance studio, has some connections in the theater world. He also lusts after Sullivan and isn’t above using those connections in a very negative way. Things become ugly…very ugly…leading Sullivan to despair and putting his relationship with Duane at risk. I feel this part of the book was good. It was well written, but it dragged on a bit. Also, Sullivan had taken to having some vodka every night to be able to sleep. Was he becoming an alcoholic? This was a loose end for me. I didn’t see any sort of explanation or resolution with this issue.
The ending was neat and tidy, as it should be. After everything Sullivan and Duane had gone through, they deserved to be happy. Once again, we see their friends coming together to help them and the scene was cute and sweet.
Love is a Walk in the Park is a story with great bones. It came through for me in the end, and for that, I was glad. I’m sorry it took me that long to come around. I recommend this one to people who like a somewhat angsty read and adorable dogs.