Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Griffin Burke is a mid-20s hotel concierge. He recently moved from Brisbane to Coolum Beach to take a new position at a boutique hotel. While exploring his new locale, Griffin meets his spunky, septuagenarian, pot-head landlady, Bernie, and discovers a lost dog while hiking. Noticing the pup has a collar with a number, Griffin calls the owner, leaving a message that he might have found his missing dog.
Dane Hughes is a telecom store manager on a business trip when he gets a frantic call from his mom saying his fur-baby, Wicket, has run out of the yard and disappeared. He’s agonized, until he gets a message from Griffin. Dane’s relief is tempered when he finally makes contact with Griffin, who’s definitely suspicious that Dane may have abandoned poor Wicket at the park. Dane’s honestly reassured that Griffin seems to be a level-headed and earnest man who’s also willing to keep Wicket safe, as his parents seem to be unable to watch the pup.
Over the several days while Dane is away, Griffin sends fun texts and pictures of Wicket—and himself—to reassure Dane that his pup is doing well. Griffin and Dane also talk over the phone during this time. Griffin truly has fun dog-sitting Wicket, who is a rambunctious little terrier and resembles an Ewok, hence his Star Wars name. The men enjoy their conversations, and a flirty rapport develops. When it’s time for Dane to collect Wicket, the men want to spend some time catching up. And, the attraction only grows from there.
This is a sweet story of two strangers connecting through the mutual love of a dog. Griffin takes care of Wicket with as much affection as Dane would, and the guys hit it off completely. They spend more and more time together when Dane returns to his home, which isn’t too far from Griffin’s new apartment. The book took me completely into Australia. Narrator Joel Leslie’s accent was so rich and enjoyable, I felt transported.
There are many adventures for Griffin and Wicket, as a well as for Dane, Wicket, and Griffin. Griffin and Wicket totally bond, and he’s always eager for Dane to bring the little furball for a visit. During this time, we also get to know Bernie and her long-time companion, Kaye. They help teach Griffin to surf, and Dane gets a push to make some important declarations when Bernie collapses on one of their beach forays. It seemed like I was out there on the surf and the sun-kissed beach, watching it all happen as I listened. Leslie does a good job of differentiating between Dane and Griffin, as well as the rough and worn voices of much older Bernie and Kaye. I truly enjoyed this one.
This is a story with so many happy moments, as Dane and Griffin take their careful steps toward building a real relationship. There’s a bit of drama near the end surrounding Bernie’s health scare. Yet, the ending is super happy and filled with all the love a perky pup could offer his favorite men.