Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van's standing behind her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man Van's ever loved. Before, Van's mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy tale ending will ever come true.
After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. The pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, and Van is at the end of her rope... until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.
Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together, they work to mend the pieces of Van's shattered heart. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Joe's vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted, proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.
When I start reading this book, I didn't know what to think. I had been really looking forward to reading it as there had been a lot of buzz before the book's release and the cover looked really cute. When I actually started reading, I had mixed emotions because I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if Van was ever going to turn out happy or if she would do the unthinkable and hurt her best friend. And because of my uncertainty, I couldn't put the book down. It drew me right into the story and made me not want to stop turning pages.
Van's story is multi-layered. There were so many elements to this story that it could be overwhelming at times but eventually everything was tied together. The biggest is Van having to get over her love for her best guy friend who is now married to her best friend. Then there's the relationship she has with her best friend's mother where there are past issues that two need to work on. Then there is the whole situation with the dog which brings her to meet the handsome vet who slowly wins her heart. It's a in depth read that is both entertaining and enlightening. I could really relate to Van's predicament with Joe and taking care of him. My husband's dog, while not a huge beast like Joe was, pretty much was exactly like him in every other way. It was easy to see myself in Van's shoes dealing with him. I love books about dogs and while Joe might have been frightful in the beginning, turns into a wonderful teddy bear.
While I enjoyed the book, I did have a few qualms. The biggest was that Van sometimes got on my nerves. I did like her character very much, but there were times when I wished that she would stand up for herself more. It finally does happen but I felt that it was a little too late. The other thing that I had a problem with was the language. While I don't get normally bothered by cursing in a book, the constant use of the f-word kinda grated me. I don't like seeing the word all the time, but I can understand it when used for emphasis. However, when it's just thrown around, it seems like it's just being used unnecessary. I just felt that it was used too much in this story. Of course that just might be how Van's character is and how she chooses to express herself.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. This was a fun read and one that I couldn't put down. If you are a chick lit fan and a dog lover, there is no way you can not love this book. It's an enjoyable read that is perfect for a beach read or a lazy summer afternoon. I am going to be on the look out for more books from Larkin as I feel that she has a very bright future ahead of her.
Stay by Allie Larkin is published by Dutton (2010)
This review copy was provided by the publisher