Gary Sanchez is taking a new step forward in life. While in the hospital recovering and enduring therapy for his injured leg, Gary was introduced to Princess, a giant rescue dog with a whole lot of heart who brought a smile to his face and hope to his life. Now, Gary is hoping to do the same for others with the help of his dog Angie, a small dog with a giant spirit.
Mirman Hamardi doesn’t fit in anywhere. Growing up the child of a devout Christian woman in the Middle East, he was always a bit of outsider. When he and his mother escaped to the United States, it was just the two of them, until it was just Mirman. Now, he has only his work and his devotion to his patients and their well being to keep him going. But there’s more to a person’s health and happiness than just the lack of physical pain.
Mirman thought he hated dogs, but that was before he met Angie and Gary.
Gary is affable, good natured, and at times comes across as more practical than loving in his ownership of Angie. He knew he wanted a dog capable of being a therapy dog, something that would be good natured and loving and able to handle the attention and training needed for her certification, and so went into the shelter with an idea already in his head of what he wanted. It’s not that he’s callous, it’s just that the mission came before the dog, at least, at first. He takes that same calculated approach with Mirman when they first meet, seeing a man who might get in the way of his cause of bringing joy and healing to others, and approaches him with the intent to charm him and win him over to his way of thinking. There’s nothing wrong in that, it’s just the way Gary approaches life, perhaps a bit of a holdover from his military training.
Mirman grew up as a slightly timorous child, closer to his mother than the other men of his household. Now, though the past is some years distant, he’s made no effort to reflect upon his past. Mirman lives in the here and now where his patients need him, where he can do good work saving lives and bringing a relief from suffering. His first reaction upon seeing a dog in his hospital is concern for his patients, rather than anger at the dog.
When Gary and Mirman come together, first as friends and then later as something more, it’s with caution. Mirman isn’t afraid of being gay or being out, he just doesn’t know what Gary wants from him. He barely knows what he wants, himself. Gary doesn’t want to offend and he doesn’t want to chase Mirman away, so it’s a gentle courtship on both parts that is realistic, if with a sweet candy coating, and speaks well of both characters.
It can be hard, I think, to get across an honest first meeting between two people that will grow and flourish into something more in a short story, but the author manages it gently, sweetly, and without going too far into the fantastic realm of hand waving and winking. This is a cute little story and I know I’m going to have to not only hunt down the other books in this series, but keep an eye out for this author’s future works!