Who could resist that little urchin face?
The dog staring at you from your computer screen sure was a cutie. He was a stray, found wandering nearby and nobody came to claim him.
Tempting. But wasn't someone missing that sweet boy? How could anybody refuse those please-love-me eyes?
Alice and Ed Parmalee couldn't, that's for sure. It was easy to fall in love with the sheltie dog and he was obviously abandoned, but in the new novel "The Dog Who Danced" by Susan Wilson, keeping him might be a delicate ballet.
Justine Meade was certain that the phone call had been just another obligation.
Her stepmother Adele must have gritted her teeth when she dialed the number. For nearly 40 years, she'd made it crystal-clear that she didn't want a stepdaughter -- but there she was on the phone, summoning Justine, telling her that her father was dying.
Justine didn't want to go. She'd barely spoken to her father in years because there was nothing to say. Still, there she was, riding shotgun with a bad-tempered trucker, heading for what was once home.
At least she had Mack with her.
Justine hadn't wanted to go to the East Coast, in part because she didn't want to leave her dog. Mack was everything to her: protector, best friend and dancing partner. She and Mack loved performing, they loved being together, and Justine knew he would be the perfect buffer between her and the family she barely knew.
But then the unthinkable happened.
The trucker, who'd complained about Justine's presence, who said she was the reason he was running late, got fed up. He left her behind in a truck stop.
He left -- with Mack still in the cab.
Ed Parmalee saw the dog as he drove past the cemetery, but he didn't stop. The graveyard held bad memories and the body of Ed's daughter, neither of which Ed wanted to visit any time soon. That must've been the dog Alice mentioned, the one she figured was lost. The one she was going to "rescue."
They should try to find the sheltie's owner. They didn't need a dog.
Ed hadn't seen that hopeful look on Alice's face in a long time.
I did a little dance myself when I got this book. Author Susan Wilson's last novel is one of my favorites, and I was eager to see if "The Dog Who Danced" could top it.
The answer is: not quite. But close.
There's no doubt that "The Dog Who Danced" will do a little two-step on your heart. Wilson is, paws-down, a master at character development and it's uncanny how she gets inside the furry heads of her smallest characters.
This book is all about the biggest fear of every dog lover, and Wilson plays it well.
Yes, it's a little predictable. Yes, it's a little mushy.
And yes, you'll love it anyhow, and if you share your life with a dog, this is a book you want. For you, "The Dog Who Danced" simply can't be missed.
"The Dog Who Danced," by Susan Wilson, copyright 2012 by St. Martin's Griffin, is 320 pages and sells for $24.99.
Contact Terri Schlichenmeyer at www.bookwormsez.com.