‘Must Love Dogs: New Leash on Life’ by Claire Cook: Sequel to best seller


Rating: 5 stars

Claire Cook brings back the charming and zany Hurlihy family in this sequel to “Must Love Dogs,” “Must Love Dogs: New Leash on Life.” Here, Sarah Hurlihy’s story continues to develop her funny but frustrating romance with John Anderson. Their relationship grows increasingly difficult partly because her brother Michael and his dog Mother Theresa are camped out in her house.

The Hurlihy family sticks together, and Sarah is there for her brother when he needs her. Of course, the reader wants to shake her and tell her to leave her brother alone. He’s a grown-up, and John (or Jack, as her father calls him) is waiting — but may not wait forever.

Another problem is that John’s dog, Horatio, doesn’t like Sarah, and hilarious complications ensue. Of course, to fully appreciate them, you — must love dogs.

John gets Sarah a summer job at his company teaching social skills to computer nerds, and she befriends a young woman who works at the company. Of course, as in any fine novel, things are not as they appear to be.

Between family and romance, her part-time job and the computer geeks, and a very sly and attractive rival, Sarah has her hands full. But she has pluck and is determined to get things right — not only for her brother and father (who is still serial dating), but for herself.

Cook’s ability to create strong characters through dialogue and actions is textbook writing: show, don’t tell. She excels at writing scenes that leap to life, wherein the reader feels almost a part of them. I was walking the beach in Savannah with Sarah and smelling the ocean breeze and feeling the heat. I was also laughing a lot. And I was also very moved by the entire story — especially the events at the end. Movie sequel next?

“Must Love Dogs: New Leash on Life” will further endear readers to the characters in the story, and they won’t want to wait to see what happens next. Will Sarah and John make a commitment? Will her father find happiness? What about the other siblings?

And animal lovers will appreciate the plug for adopting a shelter dog contained in the story.

If you haven’t read a Claire Cook book yet, start with this one. You don’t need to have read the first book, but why not grab that one, too, and read it? Her books are like potato chips — you can’t have just one!

Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by the author for review purposes.