Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Playing for Love" (Summer Beach Vets 1) by H.Y. Hanna

Sara needs to escape—and an idyllic seaside town on the other side of the world seems like the perfect place. She’d always wanted to visit Australia, but the first thing she meets on the gorgeous, white sand beach is not a kangaroo but a wounded, lost Beagle!

Veterinarian, Dr Craig Murray, can’t get the beautiful, curvy American out of his mind. They might come from different cultures—and even speak different “English” sometimes—but he knows they could have a future together. Can he convince Sara that this is more than just a vacation fling?

Then Sara discovers that Craig isn’t quite what he seems and the past that she was running away from comes back to haunt her. Now she needs to decide if she can risk it all again for another chance at love…

My review:
This book has a sweet story line and premise - a woman needs a chance to get away from the stressors in her life, so she visits her cousin in Australia.  I've read a number of books set in Australia and/or written by an Australian.  While the lingo is different than American English, I typically find it easy to catch on.  This author made it fun for the reader because the main character, Sara, had never traveled to Australia before and she herself didn't understand the colloquialisms.  Every time the author introduced a term that the reader didn't understand, it was often followed by the main character's confusion and need to ask for interpretation herself.  It added a nice comic feel to the cultural differences and helped the reader understand at the same time!
The author did a fantastic job of drawing a picture with her words.  I felt I could see the beach in my mind from her detailed description near the beginning of the book.
That said, I had a hard time with the character development. It was clear that Sara suffered some emotional trauma due to tabloid coverage of her relationship with a Hollywood star.  But she went from enraptured to enraged in 60 seconds flat when she found out that Craig was a TV star.  It wasn't as though he hid it - it was evident in her dealings with him that it wasn't the same as in her previous relationship.  She had spent time with Craig without issue or fuss.  So, it frustrated me that Sara painted Craig with Jeff's paintbrush and grouped him in with the likes of her ex-boyfriend. Then, for Sara's anger to just dissolve because she spent time with the sick beagle seemed unrealistic.  If her feelings were so deeply held, they would not disappear so easily.
And then for the beagle to go from critical to "good as new" in just an overnight is an unrealistic scenario which seems crafted solely to create a transition in the story line. I also felt it unrealistic when Craig, after knowing Sara only 2 weeks, offers to walk away from all TV and related activities - cold turkey.  While Sara ultimately accepted his role, the offer of "all or nothing" just didn't seem to fit with the depth of the development of their relationship to date.
Lastly, I felt attempting to draw parallels between the specter of a large Great Dane to the throngs of paparazzi was an unusual parallel that I just didn't relate to. Sara went from holding deep-seeded feelings regarding a relationship with a TV personality - enough to send her home without a second thought - to rethinking her relationship and accepting of Craig's role simply because a man told her about how his Great Dane draws attention when they are out.  Those aspects of the story just didn't ring true to me.
Overall it was a sweet story with a happy ending.  The story kept me interested enough to feel that I "liked" it enough to overcome the character and story development flaws.
And how cute is that puppy on the cover - it appears every cover in the series is going to feature another sweet looking dog on the cover! 
Goodreads - Amazon - Barnes and Noble

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