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Rescue Me #4

Love at First Bark

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Animal portrait painter Mia Chambers and architect Ben Thomas have volunteered at the High Grove Animal Shelter for years, and they share a complicated history. Ben has secretly loved Mia all this time, but she was married to his best friend. Now she's newly widowed, with a young son, and Ben doesn't know how to tell her what's in his heart. All he can do is stay close, help her as much as she'll let him, and watch for the right moment to bare his soul.

When a dozen adorable border collies get dumped in St. Louis' biggest park, everyone at the shelter mobilizes for a large-scale rescue. Rushing to the park to round up the frisky collies, Ben and Mia unexpectedly plunge into a new phase of their entangled lives. Who knew that opening their hearts and homes — to animals in need and to each other — would lead to so many upheavals... and new beginnings...?

352 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 30, 2019

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About the author

Debbie Burns

9 books237 followers
Debbie Burns is the celebrated author of heartwarming romance and women’s fiction
featuring both two- and four-legged stars. While her books have earned many awards and commendations, her favorite praise is from readers who’ve been inspired to adopt a pet in need from their local shelter.

Debbie lives in Saint Louis with her family, a thoroughly spoiled rescue dog, and two
Maine Coon cats who ought to be named Pete and Repeat. When she isn’t writing (or reading), you can find her hiking in the Missouri woods, working in her garden, or savoring time with family and friends.

You can follow her on BookBub @AuthorDebbieBurns) and connect with her on Instagram (@_debbieburns) or Facebook @authordebbieburns).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 77 reviews
Profile Image for Robin Loves Reading.
2,239 reviews391 followers
September 3, 2019
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Mia Chambers and Ben Thomas both volunteer at a no-kill animal shelter. Mia was married, then separated, and ultimately widowed. The man she was married to was Ben's best fiend. There has always been a problem, however. Ben has been in love with Mia for years, and she never learned of his feelings. Not only do they see each other often at the shelter, Ben is Mia's son's godfather, so he still plays an important role in their lives.

A rescue operation concerning a dozen border collies throw Ben and Mia together yet again. Ben knows that he might find the right time to tell Mia of his feelings. Meanwhile, Mia was very unhappily married, yet she worries that she is more fond of Ben than she would like to admit.

I have loved every book in this series by Debbie Burns, but this is my favorite of the four. There were a lot of reasons. For one thing, and that is rather obvious. The dogs. Yes, the dogs. More than that is that Ben is just the nicest guy around, even spending quality time with a teen that needs a male role model. Also, Ben is a man of honor and does not want to disrespect the image of the father of Mia's son.

Yes, this is another sweet romance - all four books in this series are. Instead, the stories focus of saving dogs, training them, re-homing them, etc. As this is being done, the romance builds slowly, but it is ever so lovely, especially since the couple make certain to consider more than physical desires.

I will definitely be following this author. She writes stories that are wonderful, allowing readers to draw close to delightful characters. And, if readers love dogs, then that is just another bonus.

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and to NetGalley for this ARC to review. This is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
7,013 reviews835 followers
July 30, 2019
Love at First Bark is a complex romance story with the added charm of family and rescued animals. Mia Chambers world has been upended by her husband Brad’s infidelity and sudden death. Now a widow she is trying to make ends meet for her and her 7-year-old son Ollie. There to help is Ben Thomas, Brad’s best friend and Ollie’s godfather. Ben has been in love with Mia for 8 years and hopes this time he can let his feeling be known. Is it too soon to tell her? And what about the secret Brad told him before his death? Ben is an accomplished mountain climber and faced deathly obstacles, but nothing was more at stake than his future with Mia.

The road to happiness for Ben and Mia took some twists and obstacles to overcome in order to be together in the end. Social and family pressure was something they both had to deal while sorting out their feelings for one another. It got even more complicated with a surprise development, but it was easily diffused when she had to accept it for what it was and for her son Ollie. I loved these characters because they acted so naturally with their anger, disappointment and fears. Mia and Ben had to go through a great deal before they could have their chance at love, and they both agree that maybe it was meant to be this way.

Love at First Bark is a captivating story for two very deserving individuals. Add the cute foster dogs and puppies from the rescue center, and the other couples from previous stories, and it makes it a well-rounded story. This story has it all for me with cute kids, adorable puppies, a good plot and very likeable characters. Debbie Burns has created an unique situation in Love at First Bark and it is a great addition to the Rescue Me series.

Review copy provided for a voluntary review.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews269 followers
July 17, 2019
Lots and lots of puppies, need I say more?

Mia is recently widowed, with a young son. She is in a transition position in life and not quite sure what to make of the unexpected changes. Focusing on her son and working at the local shelter have given her the stability she needs to keep her footing in life.

Ben was her husband’s best friend but has secretly held a torch for Mia. He is there for Mia and her son but feels extremely conflicted about his roles in both their lives.

The best way to describe both Ben and Mia is conflicted, but in the end they find their way to happiness despite their conflicted feelings.

In the end, it’s a story about love, friendship and family with lots of puppies. Although it has its times of melancholy it was well balanced with quite a bit of angst.

I received this ARC copy of Love at First Bark from SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca. This is my honest and voluntary review. Love at First Bark is set for publication July 30, 2019.

My Rating: 4 stars
Written by: Debbie Burns
Series: Rescue Me (Book 4)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
ISBN-10: 149267284X
ISBN-13: 978-1492672845
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Love-First-Bar...
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love...
Itunes: https://books.apple.com/mt/book/love-...
Profile Image for Saly.
3,434 reviews517 followers
July 31, 2019
I have rated all the previous three books in this series highly, they are what draw me to contemporary romance. Love at First Bark is another stellar entry with a hero to die for. Ben is a good man, a good friend, good godfather and finally gets the woman he has love from afar seeing her struggle in a bad marriage.

Our heroine is a widow, one who doesn't feel like one because she was finally on the verge of letting go of a bad marriage before her husband passed. She is dealing with a lot of worries, bills, her son and so much more but her time volunteering at the shelter helps.

To me the romance in this book moved just at the right pace, the revelations on how Ben first met Mia and connected with her through her college speech, Mia's mother, even the reveal of her husband's secret child; all of it moved the story along beautifully. I also liked how Mia handled her horrible ex-mother-in-law. Mia and Ben's HEA was beautiful and hard-won.
ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews.
2,424 reviews125 followers
August 1, 2019
I have enjoyed each book in this series for the story but mostly for the dogs.  The series centers around a shelter in St Louis and the various employees and volunteers.  I love how the shelter is very proactive in getting pets adopted and roping in local celebrities to help in their mission.  It doesn't hurt that some of those well known local names find love in several of these books.

This book is a little sadder than others at least to start.  It focuses on Mia who is a recent widow.  She has a 7 year old son, Ollie, and while she was about to divorce her husband he ended up dying unexpectedly.  Enter Ollie's godfather, Ben, who has always had a thing for Mia yet a mixup in college created a new path for each of them.  Mia also has some not-so-nice inlaws that seem to think their son could do no wrong.  They are about to find out how wrong they are in that thought process.  While I'm not sure we truly find out their feelings once they know the truth, there is a hint of shock and perhaps it is an eye-opener.

Ben is a very caring man and it is very surprising that he is still single.  That could be due to his interest in Mia all these years, he could be battling some of his own demons about his life, or maybe no one else measured up to his standards.  I love how he takes an interest in a teenager and shows him how to be a kind and caring young man.

Then there are the dogs...we can't forget them!  A crazy woman lets loose a pack of border collies (around 13 I think).  Mia becomes a foster "fail" when she falls in love with a mother and her puppy that are both deaf.  I loved it and how it really helped Ollie move forward past his dad's death.

Overall this was a great story and I can't wait to see who might be featured in the next book in this series.  We give it 4 paws up.
Profile Image for Sheena ☆ Book Sheenanigans .
1,440 reviews360 followers
June 30, 2019

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 Stars)
Title: Love At First Bark
Author(s): Debbie Burns
Mia Chambers: 30 years old, Brunette, Blue Eyed
Ben Thomas: 30 years old, Brown Eyed
Setting: Minnesota
Tag(s): Romance, Contemporary
Content Rating: PG-13
POV: Third Person
Smexy Level: Warm
Favorite Quote(s):
― "Sometimes I swear you’re the only person in the world who really sees me."
Overall Opinion:
"Love At First Bark" was a cute romance that could easily tug at anyone's heart strings. The story focus on the lead heroine who suddenly has to deal with her estranged husband unexpected death while dealing with her bubbling feelings towards his best friend Brad, whom is the Godfather of her child. During the process of grieving and dealing with the sudden shake up in their lives, new discoveries are unraveled and relationships are put to the test. This was definitely a heartwarming, puptastic romance I really enjoyed.

Profile Image for Becca.
2,005 reviews20 followers
August 24, 2019
Love at First Bark is a book on Friendship, Love and Family with a high dose of puppies thrown into the mix, making this a good read.

Mia is at odds. Her recently deceased husband left her in a world of turmoil. Mia was in the process of divorcing Luckily she has Ben, her late husband's best friend, and godfather to her son Ollie, by her side.

Ben wants to be there for Mia and Ollie is every way but he's full of guilt. He never let Mia know that it was actually him who has been in love with her since before she ever started anything with her husband.

With the help of a litter of puppies and their shared love of volunteering at High Grove Animal Shelter, the two start to open up to each other and see that love has always been there. It's just presenting itself in a new way now.

This book is full of heart and if you love puppies you are going to love this book. A little angst and a lot of love is what Love at First Bark is all about.
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.7k reviews445 followers
June 23, 2019
I really enjoy how dogs play such a big part in these books and this book was no different. From the herd of dogs let loose at the start, to a few of those dogs being adopted, they were fun to read about as were the humans that took care of them.

This one was a bit different, sort of a melancholy tone. Mia was in an odd spot in her life, not really sure what to think and learning new things seemed to throw her in a tail spin. Luckily she had her son and the shelter to focus on, to steady and ground her. And then there was Ben, but he was, at times part of the problem. Ben had some of the same issues, he knew all, he was feeling conflicted, but also didn't want to loose his chance.

I was really glad how everything worked out. Mia made the right decisions for everyone and found her way to happy.
Profile Image for Erin Lewis.
4,441 reviews141 followers
July 8, 2019
4 Review of Love At First Bark (Rescue Me #4) by Debbie Burns

Debbie Burns is a new author to me so I haven’t read any previous books in the series based around the High Grove Animal Shelter.
This is Mia Chambers and Ben Thomas’s story.

Ben has been in love with Mia for years even though she married his best friend; in fact he is her son’s godfather.

When her estranged husband dies, Ben steps in to help out. This is a story of love, romance and friendship. Throw in some cute animals and you are in for an entertaining story. It is a story of hope, of healing and moving on.

Well written, I loved how important a part the dogs from the shelter played. Although angsty at times I found myself smiling and cheering Mia and Ben on to their happily ever after

I received an ARC of this book through the publisher via Netgalley
Profile Image for Stephanie A..
2,366 reviews66 followers
March 24, 2020
This book is an overstuffed gift basket full of the fuzziest and most indulgent romance tropes (plus a lot of dogs) and I love it. I can't even count them all so I'm just gonna start naming a few off the top of my head:

Guilt-free widowhood, so as to have our single-mom cake and eat it too. Longterm Unrequited Pining. Friends to Lovers, with a side of The Sweetheart Deal. Almost insta-family. Inherited grandparents' house. Woman with a cool/quirky but low-paying career and Bills, Bills, Bills. Independently wealthy hero with an equally cool career (who goes rock/mountain climbing and volunteers as a Big Brother in his spare time). Surprise woodwork baby (though in a surprising departure from trope, NOT adopted by the woman who tragically cannot have more kids -- oh yeah, that's in here too).

More tropes, but longer (with a few general spoilers for things that happen):

OK, straight talk. The bond between Ben and his godson Ollie is ridiculously strong and adorable, made even better by the fact that the latter is "a cuddler." I don't often dig reading about single moms with young sons, but I was equally enchanted by scenes between Mia and Ollie alone. His dialogue rings true for a 7-year-old, at least as far as I could tell from my lack of cringing at any point.

The dogs are great -- not only are there tons of them mentioned in the shelter, including cute puppies, but Mia & Ben personally foster a trio of rescue Border Collies that between them. I wasn't sure how much I would be drawn to a pair of deaf dogs, but Sadie and Sam endeared themselves to me right away. I want to snuggle them so bad.

Best of all, the romance is totally swoon-worthy, slow burn and basically obstacle-free, thanks in no small part to the twinkle-eyed meddling of Mia's mother, who basically takes one look at the two of them and goes "oh yeah, they should be an item. trashbag son-in-law who?" I've not read Debbie Burns before but I felt like I I could trust her, and I was right -- it's not a totally clean romance but it's pretty close, favoring romantic euphemisms over explicit terms and dispensing with the bedroom stuff in two pages.

It's mass market romance, so there is some cliche that is not the best, including the usual awkward inner guy thoughts about Noticing Her Perfect Breasts And Trying Not To in ways that feel very "this is my fantasy, as a woman, of how men think," but you know what, today I'm just gonna go ahead and appreciate the fact that we do get so much of Ben's inner monologue. I also didn't love either of Ollie's grandmothers, despite seeing their necessity to the story, nor Taye (the low-income Little Brother), who stuck out a bit too obviously as a prop to make Ben even more attractive and saintly, but he got us a reason to have Turbo so I'll allow that too.

Mostly, though, I just really loved everything about Ben and his perfectly restrained yet palpable longing to step into Brad's place, after 8 years of suppressing that desire and sticking to the Family Friend role instead because Brad was his childhood best friend -- albeit one who became very punchable after cheating on his awesome wife. I loved everything he did to take care of them in the wake of Brad's death, and I loved that Mia knew what her heart wanted and wasted very little time skirting around issues of self-doubt or propriety.

Finally, still can't get over the fact that this author just full on went "I'm gonna make them so fated-to-be that Ben was LITERALLY PRESENT AT OLLIE'S BIRTH -- where Ollie's actual father/Mia's husband was not (due to recovering from a car crash) -- just so you can all swoon over that imagery from an experience they wouldn't be able to share otherwise."

tl;dr: this book pleases me in just about every stock way it is possible for a romance to please me, and exceeded expectations. Have not read a pure romance in a while, and this was definitely the way to come back.
Profile Image for Marsha Keeper Bookshelf.
4,289 reviews71 followers
July 28, 2019
Reviewed at Keeper Bookshelf

I have had such an emotional, joyful time with the Rescue Me series by Debbie Burns, and the fourth title, LOVE AT FIRST BARK was no exception to that ongoing rule of awesome stories, people and animals.

Mia and Ben have had a connection for nearly a decade. Ben was captivated by a speech she gave in college and his best friend, Brad was to set up a meeting between them. Unfortunately, Ben’s dad became ill and he had to miss that meeting – leaving the way open for Brad to step into his place. They dated, married, had a child, now seven-year-old Ollie, and throughout it all, Ben was still part of the picture in the background as Brad’s best friend, Mia’s friend, and little Ollie’s godfather. He never stopped caring for Mia yet has learned to hide those deeper feelings over the years.

In the midst of divorcing her cheating husband, Brad suddenly died leaving behind unresolved anger and hurt, as well as the devastation of losing his father that Ollie is experiencing now. Ben is there throughout it all offering support, friendship, and a shoulder to lean on for both Mia and Ollie. He’s hesitant to make any changes to their relationship believing it’s just too soon. But coming to the rescue of some furry pups changes everything.

Someone has dumped a dozen Border Collie pups and their mom in the local park and the volunteers of the High Grove Animal Shelter step up to round up puppies and foster them among themselves. In the middle of chaos, Mia finds herself with a momma dog and a pup to tend to, and confusing feelings for Ben that she’s always ignored in the past. Maybe the future has been right there alongside her all along.

LOVE AT FIRST BARK is full of emotions, revelations, lots and lots of adorable puppies, and two people finally realizing that they have a second chance at finding a love that can survive a lifetime with each other. But first, they have to get past the craziness that is their lives right now with former in-law troubles, discovering how to help a young child through the loss of a parent, and learning that the friend who has always been there is really the man of Mia’s dreams. Watching them navigate through it all is an emotional, enjoyable journey – one that I’d not hesitate to recommend to any Romance reader. I had fun back in this world again — and that’s the whole point.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

LOVE AT FIRST BARK releases on July 30, 2019.
Profile Image for Vikki Vaught.
Author 11 books158 followers
July 22, 2019
Love at First Bark is the fourth book in Rescue Me series and a delightful addition. Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for a chance to read and review an advance reader copy of this book. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story from start to finish. The plot is about a woman who, while in the midst of divorcing her husband, never makes it to divorce court because he dies. He leaves her with a ton of debt and a grieving seven-year-old son. Of course, she also has a lot of guilt since she’s realized she didn’t love him. Enters, the best friend. The romance is between them.

Love at First Bark is an emotionally-charged love story. The writing flows smoothly, and the pacing is excellent, moving the story along without any sagging parts. There are also many engaging moments between the MCs and Mia’s young son, adding a great deal to the story. Then, one must add in the adorable dogs!

Mia’s character gained my empathy form the beginning. She has so many issues she’s dealing with, beyond the romance between her and Ben. No wonder that at times, it took second place. She is a fantastic mother, a loyal daughter and loves her volunteer work at the animal shelter. Her confused feelings regarding Ben, are very understandable. I could identify with her mixed-up emotions. After all, Ben was her late husband’s best friend and her son’s godfather. Then add in the guilt her mother-in-law heaps on her head, no wonder she is so torn.

Ben Thomas is a great hero. His only flaw¬¬–he’s almost too perfect. He saw Mia first, but due to an unfortunate circumstance, his best friend makes the first move on her, and he steps away. He never tells his friend how he feels and even becomes godfather to their child. He’s never gotten over Mia, and at last, she’s free, but now, she’s a new widow with too much on her slim shoulders. I admired his patience with Mia as she works through her difficulties.

I truly wanted Mia and Ben to find their happy ending. They are so good together as a couple and clearly love one another. While there isn’t a lot of heat between them, the love grows steadily and is very satisfying. I’m not saying the attraction is weak, it’s just not a blazing passion.

If you enjoy a romance with conflicting emotions, endearing character and several loveable dogs, then you will like Love at First Bark as much as I did. While this is part of a series, it’s a stand-alone, and it’s not necessary to read the other books in order. Happy reading!
Profile Image for Aly.
2,424 reviews69 followers
August 11, 2019

Ben Thomas is an architect and a climbing buff. Mia Chambers have an online business as a pet portrait artist, she's the mother of a seven-year-old boy and now a widow. Ben and Mia both volunteer at the High Grove Animal Shelter but they also have a complicated history. He was in love with her, she didn't know and she married his best friend. But Ben still stayed in her life as a friend and as a godfather to little Ollie, being even more present for him than his father was. Her husband had his own problem but Mia draw the line at infidelity and she was on the brink of divorce when he died from an aneurysm. Something is different when she see Ben now but she have to think of her son first and she's not ready yet to deal with these kind of feelings. But Ben want to be there for Mia and Ollie. And when more than a dozen Border Collie are dumped in a park, the High Grove Animal Shelter have to find and take care of the dogs. Ben and Mia are there to help and spending time together will certainly allow her to realize that Ben is someone she needs in her life and not only just as a friend.

I don't know how to rate this book. Because I have many good things to say about it and really enjoyed the first half of the book. I like the fact the hero is a Big Brother to a thirteen year old teenager, how the author made me learn things about dogs, how one of the news that Mia learn make you ask yourself what would you do if you were in her place, the secondary characters were interesting and endearing, especially sweet and curious little Ollie who read to the shelter's animals and Lynn, the heroine's mother who lives an unusual life but was not the cliché that is always used for that kind of character. Ben and Mia's history also brought something different but... The romance between these two took so much time to start that by the time they began seeing each other romantically, I lost interest in it and the story. I read the two previous books before and it was a slow-burn romance too but this time it didn't work for me.
Profile Image for BookAddict.
1,614 reviews129 followers
July 24, 2019
After reading the previous book in this series, I was eager to get a chance to read this book early. Once again, Burns delivers a heartfelt, poignant read full of emotion. When the four-legged characters are done well, they have a way of stealing the scene, and these rescue pups definitely hold their own. Mia's son, Ollie, is adorable, and his playful, sweet interactions with the hero, Ben, are what really steal the show.

Everyone is still reeling from Brad’s death. Although he and Mia were in the process of getting a divorce, her son Ollie still lost his father and Ben lost his best friend. None of this changes the fact that Ben has been in love with Mia since he first laid eyes on her, but it certainly makes things more complicated, as do the shocking revelations Mia has in store.

While this story has its strong points, some things were a little disappointing to me. There is far more telling than showing, and while it would take some time to edit, it’s not a difficult fix, and it’s far more likely to engage the reader. I also got slowed down by long narratives that, for me, didn’t add anything or help to move the story forward. Sometimes, less is more. My other issue is with incorrect names. Megan for Mia, Monica for Ava and a random Lilly tossed in with no mention elsewhere. It seems like a simple enough thing to keep a list of name changes and do a search/replace on the final copy.

In my opinion, these are all far more editing issues than author issues, which is the reason I didn’t leave a lower rating. The storyline is strong, the characters are compelling and there are plenty of tugs to the heartstrings. Hopefully you can focus less on the editorial issues and far more on these winning characters and heart-stealing pups.

*I read an early edition of this book freely and voluntarily, having made no commitment to provide feedback and receiving no compensation of any kind from any source.
Profile Image for Barb Lie.
1,847 reviews4 followers
July 29, 2019
Love at First Bark by Debbie Burns is the 4th book in her Rescue Me series. We return to High Grove Animal Shelter, revisiting many people we met in the previous books. Mia Chambers, our heroine, works at the shelter and also paints animal pictures. Mia is recently widowed (though she was in the middle of a divorce) and has an adorable 7 year old son, Ollie.

Ben Thomas, our hero, has always been in love with Mia, but she was married to his best friend. Ben does everything he can to help Mia and her son, as well as participate in events for the shelter; but he awaits the right moment to let Mia know about his true feelings.

I was great to see Megan, Patrick, Tess and all the others from the shelter, as well as all the cats and dogs, especially those that we know. Mia’s mother makes a surprise visit, and she pushes Mia to open her eyes to Ben’s love for her. Mia also must deal with her in-laws, who are not keen on Mia becoming involved with anyone. But Mia will stand up to them, noting that she was in the middle of finalizing a divorce.

When someone dumps a dozen border collies in a park, everyone bands together to rescue them. I really enjoyed Ben, Mia and Ollie bringing two dogs (mother and puppy) home to foster and eventually adopt them. Very cute. The hunt to find and place the border collies, brings Ben and Mia closer, with both acknowledging their feelings for each other.

What follows is a wonderful sweet romance between Ben and Mia, with added the element of Ollie. I love this series, which spends much of the time with the shelter and the wonderful dogs and cats. Love at First Bark is a wonderful delightful, heartwarming read, with some great characters, sweet dogs and cats, and wonderful romance.

In Love at First Bark, Debbie Burns gives us another well written, sweet heartwarming story that kept us entertained from beginning to end. If you love animals, with a romance in the background, you need to read this book.

The Reading Cafe
4,592 reviews17 followers
July 31, 2019
Ben had been craving the escape of the mountains for the last three weeks. He yearned for the rigorous challenge and solitude. Climbing was ben’s biggest passion and it was the activity that would successfully quiet his thoughts, the only time he could shut out the world. He’d lost his oldest friend-Brad- That meant Mia Chambers was available the only woman Ben had ever loved. Ben had an obligation to his small architect company and to mia and her son- his godson-Ollie. He wasn’t going to let them down. Ben missed his oldest friend, even if their relationship had become strained. He had to support Mia as she navigated the waters of losing a husband she was on the verge of divorcing. She had already left him and moved into her grandparent’s place with Ollie. Eight years ago Ben had fallen in love with Mia. She never knew and a few months later she married Brad. He’d fallen in love with Mia’s words, her bravery, a depth of character over the course of a five minute speech she’d given. A speech he hadn’t suppose to have heard but had been proven tenfold since. That first afternoon she’d revealed things that resonated deeper with Ben than anything ever had. Some of the things she had shared about her childhood mirrored his. One was abandonment. Ben wasn’t good with words and don't let people in easily. Mia had struck his heart. Ben had been introduced to the sport of climbing when he was twelve by his father. Ben had his best ideas for work when he was climbing. Three months ago, Ben had been shocked when Mia left Brad and they were suddenly on the brink of divorce when Ollie was seven. Than three weeks ago, he got a call that Brad was dead. Ben steered clear of relationships. Always waiting. Mia went back to volunteering at The Grove Animal Shelter . She needed to get out of the house and the people at the shelter were an extended family and wouldn’t judge her. She had been volunteering at the center since she was fifteen. Brad had admitting to cheating on Mia and with a marriage with more bad than good those pushed Mai to leave Brad. Brad had been diagnosed with bipolar over the course of her marriage. Ben had been someone she trusted immensely. Mia ran an online business as a pet portrait artist. So she had only to leave the house to take Ollie to school until she went to volunteer. Ben decided he had to tell Mia the way he felt.
This was an okay read for me. But it somehow dragged and I had to force myself to keep reading at times than others no problem. It was hard to get into and keep my interest going at all times. I did love that Mia volunteered at the animal shelter and her love of animals. I just didn’t really relate to this book or its characters or get into the story like I usually do. I am sure there are a lot of others who will really love/like this book.
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Profile Image for Gmr.
1,203 reviews
August 5, 2019
I haven't read the rest of the series, but I'm seriously adding it to my wish list for future reading. I mean first of all, we have the cutesy title...just try and tell me you didn't smile when you read/said it. Second, that cover! An adorable pupper, the snowy scene, and our potential couple walking through the drifts...can't you just feel the love? Last on the "why should I read this" roster, the story!

Really, the story is what brings the greatest joy here. The characters, both the two and four-legged ones, will endear themselves to your heart while the tale itself will speak to your soul. It's not that something utterly dramatic and earth shattering happens, but it's monumental enough to them and relateable enough for readers to have you caring right alongside each of them, come what may.

All in all, this book has SO much going for it! Love, loss, family, puppers, and enough feels to shut down the power grid to the big apple (still blush-worthy versus scorching!)...it's a great combination that'll have you SITting down for a moment only to find yourself STAYing straight through to the end. Seriously, I was flicking epages so much I didn't even stop to update my Goodreads status! Recommended for Contemporary Romance fans.

**ebook provided for review; opinions are my own
Profile Image for Carla.
6,131 reviews134 followers
December 30, 2020
This is another one of those series that I have been reading out of order with no issue, but I would recommend reading them from the beginning so there are no spoilers or missed character development. Mia Chambers is a single mother, recently being widowed. Prior to her husband's death, she had left him and was preparing for a divorce. She is dealing with being a single mom, deciding what to do with her family home and dealing with financial issues. Ben was his best friend, but has loved Mia from before they had even married. Working together at the animal shelter brings them together often, but will Mia realize that Ben actually loves her and has for years? Will she be able to accept how she feels about him? There are several things I enjoyed about this book, but the main one is the dogs. I am a dog lover and the ones in this story were amazing. The second thing was Ben. He was a wonderful character. Not only was he trying discreetly to help Mia and her son, but he is a "Big Brother" to a teen who need a good male role model. Ben is so patient with him and willing to spend time as well. The story was well written, and had a very sweet storyline. I definitely recommend this one to those who love romance stories, especially those involving animals. I was gifted a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
Profile Image for Kate Mclaughlin.
264 reviews3 followers
July 30, 2019
A delightful fourth installment to Debbie Burns’ Rescue Me series

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Puppies!!!
For that reason alone, I knew I would love this story, having them be Border Collies was the icing on the cake. They are my favourite breed of dog and Debbie got their renowned characteristics, especially for Sadie and Turbo down to the ground.

You might think I’m mad for highlighting the dogs in my review, but it speaks a lot to the author's ability to write about characters if they can make you see an animals expression or the understanding that comes with the tilt of their head in your mind’s eye.

I did enjoy the story, three of my favourite things, Christmas, romance and you guessed it, puppies :D

Though I found the plot a little slower than I would like in places, I thoroughly enjoyed reading #LoveAtFirstBark and would recommend to those who enjoy their romance.
My thanks as always to #Netgalley, #SourcebooksCasablanca and @DebbieBurns for giving me the honour of reviewing an advanced copy of the book.
Profile Image for Jackie Wright.
4,522 reviews88 followers
August 13, 2019
4.5 Stars for Love at First Bark
This is only the second book I have read in this series and I need to go back and read books 1 and 2 because I’m falling in love with everything about these books, I love the plots, I love that they are set around rescue shelters and I love the characters and what about the puppies who can forget them....
This book starts off a bit sadder than the previous book I have read, Mia is recently widowed bringing up her 7 year old son Ollie and she finds herself turning more and more to Ollie’s godfather Ben. Mia and Ben has a connection way back in their college days but a mix up lead them in different directions but is the timing right now .....
Love at First Bark is an emotional read, it has adorable characters as well as some adorable puppies that we get to meet when someone dumps a dozen Border Collie pup in the park and the team from High Grove Animal Shelter get to work rounding them up and let’s not forget the deaf mother and her puppy that Mia fosters only to fall deeply in love with both of them. A second change romance with the perfect mix of love, humour and sadness make this a great read.
Profile Image for Rachel - Read with Rach.
1,240 reviews72 followers
July 26, 2019
Love at First Bark is the fourth book in Debbie Burns's Rescue Me series. We met both main characters briefly in previous books in the series.

Mia Chambers, a volunteer at the shelter, and Ben Thomas, an architect, have known each other for over 8 years. Mia was previously married to Ben's best friend, Brad. Ben is also Mia's son's godfather. We find out quickly that Brad passed away unexpectedly during divorce proceedings. This story follows Mia and Ben and how they both deal with their feelings toward each other and the guilt and complications that brings up.

This was a great addition to the Rescue Me series. I love how every book in the series has a great leading couple and also sheds a significant spotlight on the shelter's animals and the issues shelters face. If you are looking for a warm, quick read, I definitely recommend Love at First Bark and the entire Rescue Me series.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
Profile Image for SandyL.
3,146 reviews
October 24, 2019
I've really enjoyed this series and I hope there will be more books to come in it!! This book is about Ben Thomas, who is Mason Redding's architect, and shelter volunteer Mia Chambers. Mia was married to Ben's best friend, Brad, and they have a son, Ollie. Brad recently died and Mia is struggling to move on with life - although not in the ways you'd think. She was planning on divorcing Brad and has found out things about him now that he's gone that she also has to deal with. And Ben has been in love with Mia from before Brad married her and is a godfather to Ollie. So there are interesting dynamics! They help the shelter round up a bunch of border collies that had been turned loose in a park, and both end up with new dogs. One of my favorite things about this series is all the info on dogs and rescues - awesome series!!
Profile Image for Donna Mork.
1,833 reviews8 followers
February 21, 2022
Love this series. Great characters and wonderful dog antics. Love this story about a woman struggling with her husband's infidelity when he ends up having an aneurysm. She is left to deal with the fall out which includes a lot of debt he'd run up and a baby out of wedlock. Ben has loved her since he heard her speech in college, but had pulled back when his friend stepped in, asked her out, got her pregnant, then married her. Eight years is a long time to be in love with someone and not able to move forward, but Ben did it honorably. Now Mia is free to love whoever she wants, and Ben is hopeful it will be him.
Ollie is a sweet, funny kid dealing with the death of his father and then finding out he has a half brother. Great series to read, especially if you love dogs.
Profile Image for Annarella.
11.7k reviews128 followers
July 30, 2019
It's a sweet and engrossing story, entertaining and well written.
I appreciated the fleshed out characters, the plot that flows without any issue and the setting.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,457 reviews30 followers
August 12, 2019
3.5 stars - I was given a copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.

I love all the dogs in this book! This a slow burn second chance romance. When we first meet them, Mia and Ben are likeable characters with a decade of baggage hanging heavily between them. As godfather to Mia’s son, Ben is a constant in her life after her husband’s death but Mia doesn’t realise how long Ben has had feelings for her.

Parts of this story are quite dark. Mia’s marriage was complicated and she’s struggling as a widow with a young son. Ben struggles with the morality of his feelings for Mia. Fortunately, the dogs in the book bring joy and the potential for fresh starts. This is a very slow and angsty read. Even when Ben and Mia start to explore their feelings, Mia’s mother in law complicates things further.

For me, this relationships in this story feel more real than most romance novels. I read this while on holiday and it was quite a bit heavier than I’d expected from the title and cover. I liked the characters and I think I might have enjoyed the story more if I’d read it in a different time and place. I’m never a huge fan of kids in romance and this felt a little bit too much like a Hallmark family film at times. There isn’t much heat in the book and little opportunity for any chemistry between Mia and Ben to develop.
Profile Image for Savannah Hendricks.
Author 27 books351 followers
November 25, 2019
Real read about real love

This is the fourth book in the series and it doesn't disappoint. Mia and Ben deal with real romance issues. My heart hurt so much for Mia and what she went through. And I cheered for Ben and all the dogs.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
977 reviews90 followers
October 9, 2021
a cute and adorable second chance romance that will have you smiling though out the story . can't wait to pick up more of this series .
Profile Image for Sharon Tyler.
2,758 reviews33 followers
July 19, 2019
Love at First Bark is the fourth book in the Rescue Me series by Debbie Burns. It is currently scheduled for release on July 30 2019. You do not have to have read all the books, or the books in order, to enjoy them. They can each stand up well on their own.

Animal portrait painter Mia Chambers and architect Ben Thomas have volunteered at the High Grove Animal Shelter for years, and they share a complicated history. Ben has secretly loved Mia all this time, but she was married to his best friend. Now she's newly widowed, with a young son, and Ben doesn't know how to tell her what's in his heart. All he can do is stay close, help her as much as she'll let him, and watch for the right moment to bare his soul. When a dozen adorable border collies get dumped in St. Louis' biggest park, everyone at the shelter mobilizes for a large-scale rescue. Rushing to the park to round up the frisky collies, Ben and Mia unexpectedly plunge into a new phase of their entangled lives. Who knew that opening their hearts and homes—to animals in need and to each other—would lead to so many upheavals and new beginnings?

Love at First Bark is a sweet story about two great people in a hard situation, having trouble admitting their feelings. Mia was in then middle of divorcing her husband when he died. There are secrets and a lack of closure swirling around her and she is struggling to do the right thing and help her young son deal with all the changes in his life. Ben has been a good friend, but was always her husband's friend first, so Mia is not sure what to do with the still growing attraction for him as she deals with the chaos left behind. I like that Ben is honestly a good guy, and willing to stand back and care for Mia and Ollie in what ever way he can. The addition of adorable pups and great secondary characters make the story even more engaging and fun to read. I did enjoy the characters, and getting to know them. I liked the story, but I have to admit that it did not wow me. There were a couple moments when I expected something bigger to happen, and it just did not. There was nothing wrong with the book, it was well written and solid, it just fell a little short of my expectations.

Love at First Bark is a lovely contemporary romance about second chances. I enjoyed the read.
Profile Image for Dana.
783 reviews
April 15, 2023
I listened to Debbie Burns' "Love at First Bark," mostly because my library ha so few choices of audiobooks in genres that interest me. I wanted something light after reading a few heavy books recently and this one fit the bill. It is nothing I will remember, nor recommend, but it kept me company while I was driving, waiting for an appointment, and while trying to mop up a liter of spilled sugary liquid vanilla syrup that broke in the garage today. Don't ask! Anyhow, I figure that any book that has the word "bark" in the title is worth a try.
"Love at First Bark" tells the story of widowed Mia and her seven year old son. Mia had filed for divorce when her cheating husband died suddenly. His best friend, Ben, had always loved Mia and her son, Ollie, who was his godson. He had kept his feelings to himself for years, even when it was clear they had a connection all along.
Mia volunteered at an animal rescue and when a liter of border collies were dumped right before her eyes, she got busy, bringing some home, finding homes for others, and becoming a classic foster fail in the end! Ben was supportive of everything she wanted to do, and their chemistry kept igniting, but they resisted. She was, after all, a recent widow, even though her dead husband was a lousy husband in so many ways.
Over time, Mia will learn why Ben was always concerned about her, loving her and Ollie, and wanting to protect her from things she was going to discover, eventually about her husband.
As the novel progressed, other characters came into play, including her mother who wandered the globe doing good things for others, but was not always there for Mia; her not very nice in-laws who treated her differently after their son's death, and a young woman who claims to have been impregnated by the dead husband. Everything will come together at some point, and as expected, this one has a happy ending, though I felt that ending was too long in coming. The book could have done with far fewer pages.
I did not know, until I finished, this book is part of a series, but it definitely stands alone, as I could not tell at all while listening to it. I do not feel the urge to read any others in the series, but it was decent enough for the genre from whence it came.
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