Rating: 4 stars
In “Sit! Stay! Speak!” Annie England Noblin introduces the reader to Addie Andrews, a charming — if somewhat foolhardy — heroine. She hails from Chicago but is living in small-town Eunice, Arkansas, after her aunt left Addie her house. Addie, running from the death of her fiancé and all the memories of their life together, is determined to put that behind her by spending time in what must be the antithesis of big city life, the small-town South.
Immediately, Addie finds a pit bull discarded in a trash can after being beaten and shot. She rushes him to the veterinarian, and takes him into her home and her heart. Anyone who has rescued an animal will understand and sympathize with the connection Addie feels to Felix, her new dog. But finding Felix is only the beginning. Addie begins to see that even small-town Eunice has its share of crime and mysteries.
Addie meets and falls for Jasper Floyd, former lawyer and current farmer of his family’s huge farm. He sends mixed signals, and both he and the veterinarian discourage Addie from investigating what is going on by the river in the “poor” side of town. She is determined to find out what is happening (to dog-savvy readers it will be obvious that it is dog-fighting).
The story is engrossing and the plot moves quickly thanks to the character development and the action. However, better editing would have helped in several parts of the story where the reader will stop and wonder about what is written. For example, the second time that Addie meets Jasper, she notices that he is wearing the same clothes she had seen him wear before. “This time he was wearing a green cap as well. It also read FLOYD FARMS.” But Jasper had that same hat on the first time he met Addie. In another part of the story, Addie professes not to know what grits are. But if she had been visiting her aunt in Eunice every summer, it stands to reason that she would have seen grits at some point.
Aside from minor lapses in editing, “Sit! Stay! Speak!” is charming. There are some very touching scenes, and some of the best writing is about Addie’s relationship with her aunt and her guilt at not having visited her aunt in a long time. Readers will be dying to go out for some cheese grits and fried pies. Take a visit to the South and read this story. You’ll not only be dying for some real Southern cooking, you might just go and adopt a pit bull!
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by William Morrow for review purposes.