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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.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published June 10, 2010

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About the author

Allie Larkin

4 books46 followers
Also writes under Allison Larkin. If you'd like updates from this author's activity on Goodreads, please follow her from Allison Larkin.

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5 stars
1,525 (27%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 859 reviews
Profile Image for Carolyn Hill.
437 reviews71 followers
January 4, 2011
OK, I get it that characters are supposed to be flawed like the rest of us and show some kind of growth by the end of the book, but I almost did not get past the opening chapters of "Stay". Savannah, 'Van', Leone is not very sympathetic -- a foul-mouthed drunken slob who still carries a torch for her college crush who just married her best friend. Peter, the object of her crush, seems hardly worth it. He's cute and wealthy with nice manners, but is happy to follow the lures of a cushy job and nice new European car on the path laid out for him by his lawyer father and snobby heiress mother. A path that certainly wouldn't include Van, the daughter of a housekeeper. He clearly has never had an original thought or would dare consider veering away from his parents' prescribed plan. Besides that, he's never treated Van as anything but a friend. Yet he's the only guy she's ever loved. Sheesh! If that weren't irritating enough (you want to scream 'get a life!'), she consoles herself with Kool-Aid and vodka and ends up spending thousands of dollars ordering a dog online from Slovakia. I nearly tossed the book then, but I was curious about the dog (the picture of the dog on the cover being the bait that got me to pick up the book at the library in the first place). The dog Joe was definitely the redeeming factor, not just for the book, but for Van, along with the kind vet Alex. After he arrived on the scene, the book got more interesting, though predictably, and the relationships more complex. I ended up getting pulled into the story and liking Van better as she became, well, more likable. I'd probably give this book two and a half stars. Perhaps the book would have more charm for a twenty-something reader, but I found the characters' immaturity and shallow self-centeredness, although mitigated by the end, a put-off.
Profile Image for BookLover.
385 reviews80 followers
July 8, 2016
On the surface, this books is a sweet, funny and heartwarming chick-lit story. Van is wallowing with a broken heart after the “love of her life” marries her best friend.

We get to see Van’s history with Peter unfold as she deals with the consequences of making a drunken, expensive, slobbery purchase online.

“Stekat'!" Dr. Brandt said, and Joe sat up and barked once. Dr. Brandt raised one eyebrow and looked at me.
"He's from Slovakia," I blurted out. "I accidentally bought him online." I wanted to hide under the exam table.
"Well, that would explain why he's trained in Slovak. My first guess was Germany.”

What made this book fantastic, in my opinion, was all the extra layers beneath the main story. While Van is dealing with her new buddy, she struggles through her unresolved grief over the death of her mother, her bitterness and jealousy with her best friend and best friend’s mother all while juggling a a furry new friend the adorably sweet vet she meets while caring for Joe.

I loved everything about this book. I wish Allie Larkin would write more books. She is a great storyteller!
Profile Image for Kristina Simon.
85 reviews109 followers
August 25, 2010
What a wonderful story. I don't read reviews of books before I read them and, somehow, (I guess from the book's description) I'd gotten it into my head that Stay was going to be a light, fluffy romance. But really isn't. There is romance, that's true. But Stay is also about friends and how we sometimes take them for granted and how sometimes we don't know them like we think we do. It's about family, the biological and the family-of-the-heart, and about the good times and the bad. And it's about losing someone you love, and the grief and how that changes absolutely everything. And, finally, it's about starting over, reinventing yourself, and moving on... whether you want to and whether you feel you're ready to or not. I'll definitely be looking for Allie Larkin's next book. Sometime soon, I hope?
Profile Image for Lois Baron.
1,081 reviews8 followers
May 16, 2013
I wanted to like it. Honest, I did. The cover is cute as all get out, for pete's sake.

But what we have is a Savannah, known to her friends as Van, a woman who puts her romantic life on hold over a crush--for seven years! Ack.

And when the crush, Peter, finally ties the knot with Van's best friend, Janie (cliche alert), he immediately realizes that the girl he got was incredibly high-maintenance, putting him in the "too dumb to live" category. Nonetheless, he goes off with new wife--on a honeymoon that his mother-in-law arranged, another big strike against him--despite some mixed drunken signals to Van.

In her own drunken moment, Van orders a German Shepherd over the Internet, which is supposed to lead to adventures until the honeymoon is over and she sorts out everything with Peter, Janie, Janie's mother, the vet she falls in love with, et al. The cover copy is wrong, however, no adventures ensue. We just mark time a bit while she meets the vet of her dreams and an eccentric friend of his and then get the whole sorting-of-relationships happens.

Biggest problem: The backstory is the tale that wags this dog. Oh, that was a bad pun. Sorry. But so much of this story is spent explaining her relationship with Peter, her relationship with Janie's mother, her relationship with her own mother (who died of cancer three years before) that I was left impatient.

Van isn't a character I sympathize with much, either. Always a problem in a main character. She drinks too much, she doesn't stand up for herself, and she gets all her problems solved waaaaaay too easily.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
224 reviews5 followers
December 5, 2011
I left like I was misled into picking this book up. I was hoping for a Marley and Me type story about raising a hellish dog, but what I got instead was a chick book with a dog thrown in to advance the plot. I don't read many of these kind of books - the kind where the female protagonist won't leave the house without makeup on and she is in love with the man her best friend is marrying and she meets a very different kind of guy and blah blah blah. Her characters, though, were much more three dimensional than they usually are - I felt sorry for them sometimes, and I understood where they were coming from sometimes. But I do wish that there had been more about the dog. He could've been a great character, and all he really does is enable the protagonist to meet her rugged man and lick people.
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 14 books1,430 followers
May 21, 2010
Written with a fresh voice and a compassionate heart, Ms. Larkin has crafted a story that is thoroughly entertaining and witty. When the brokenhearted Van buys a puppy off the Internet, she soon discovers that she had no idea what she was getting into. The puppy is, like so many things in life, representative of how something that seems so wrong can end up being oh, so right. While Van learns to adjust to (and love) her clumsy four-legged friend, she also undergoes a transformation that sets her free to discover an entirely different path.

For animal lovers and those who have loved and thought they’d lost, STAY is a delightful read that I’m sure will be the first of many from this talented new author.

My review is from an ARC that I received from the publisher.

Profile Image for Meg.
427 reviews94 followers
October 24, 2011
Oh, how I loved Allie Larkin's Stay. Nevermind that I'm a total dog lover who thinks her golden retriever has human qualities and really "gets" her. Or that I'm a sucker for love triangles and tales of first love, especially when they're coupled with the struggles and triumphs of modern dating.

This is just a really great book.

Stay surprised me in the absolute best way possible. I'll admit that I accepted a review copy based solely on that adorable pup on the cover (don't judge) and expected a light romp filled with dog anecdotes. Though Joe is a central character in this novel, of course, he's not the novel; this is definitely Van's story. And Joe is one of many delightful, unexpected and warm characters in this heartfelt book.

I read about 80 pages of this one before realizing I was completely hooked, and then? This was a stay-up-until-you're-done and grab-whenever-you-have-30-free-seconds read for me. I absolutely fell head over paws for Joe, sure, but who wouldn't? The real hero here was Alex, who I thought just walked on water. His friendship with Louis, an 80-year-old charmer, just clinched it all for me. Louis himself was a warm, funny and charismatic character I just wanted to squeeze, and the affection between the two of them was awesome. Alex is a man's man, yes, but he's also a sweet soul who takes care of injured animals all day.

And their owners, too.

Van is just the sort of real character we all know and love. She's strong in many ways but weak in others. Bereft of any true family after her beloved mother's passing, she's very lonely but unsure of how to change that. Her propensity for alcohol keeps her from making smart decisions, but time and experience shape her into a new woman. She realizes her limitations and is vulnerable, but she's not afraid to go after what she wants.

Exploring grief, loss, friendship, the nature of family and love itself, Stay was a book I adored from start to finish. I've heard it described as a cross between Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed and Claire Cook's Must Love Dogs, and I would heartily second that nomination. A warm read for more than just the women's fiction or dog lover -- a spirited, unique debut that definitely caught my attention.
Profile Image for Ian.
1,348 reviews188 followers
March 26, 2014
After Peter, the guy she has loved for years, marries her best friend, Van goes on a bender drinking a lot of vodka and watching re-runs of Rin Tin Tin. Alone and lonely she impulsively buys a dog online. When the dog arrives at the airport from Slovakia she finds a whole lot more than she was expecting. Joe turns out to be a fully trained law enforcement German Shepherd that only obeys commands spoken in Slovakian.

Joe soon brings Alex, a vet specialising in large dogs into her life and in him she finds a chance to move forward and get over her lost love. But with Van's own past refusing to let her move on she might lose the first man who she could love since Peter.

I have so much love for this book. It's sweet contemporary romance...perhaps even chick lit about a woman who has sacrificed everything for the happiness of others finding her own happiness. If I have a criticism it's only a small one. I'm not a fan of flash-backs as a plot device...more often than not they interrupt a story rather than moving it forward and I think that's the case here. But I still loved this book and I'm going to call it a favorite.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
1,143 reviews598 followers
July 10, 2016
I have no doubt that this is a book some people will adore. Me, not so much. I do appreciate this book but I still had issues with it.

This story follows Savannah, aka Van, who is pretty much the definition of a Mary Sue. Despite that, she feels like a very real and developed person, and as far as protagonists go there have been much worse.

Van is feeling really down about her ex marrying her best friend. She ends up getting drunk one night and buying a German Shepherd online. Antics ensue, as you can imagine.

May I just take a second to list why you should never ever do what Van did? I feel like I need to out of my annoyance at seeing Van do this.

You should never buy a dog online. That’s almost 100% a scam or has false information.
You should never buy a dog on a website that’s in a language you can’t read. She found him on some Slovakian website that had a few English sentences. I mean how stupid…
You should never buy a dog from a place you haven’t researched or seen in person. Chances are the dogs could be sick or have genetic predispositions to diseases.
You should never buy a breed of dog you know nothing about. Van buys a German Shepherd, one of the hardest breeds to handle, and knows absolutely NOTHING about it.
You should never buy a dog as a split second decision. Trust me, that’s something you’re going to want to think about.
You should never buy a dog while you’re drunk. I think that’s pretty self explanatory.
You should never buy a dog in general. Adopt don’t shop, people.

I really struggled with the story because of my annoyance at Van. She was so stupid when doing anything with Joe, the dog, and obviously didn’t have the slightest clue about training. I think it was supposed to be funny but the whole situation just grated on my nerves.

I also have to acknowledge that this is much more of a romance than a dog book. Perhaps I should have paid attention to the fact that this is shelved as chick lit. Whether you like this book really depends on whether you connect to Van or not. This is much more of Van’s story, the dog being only a minor part, and let’s be real; I only picked this up because of the cute dog on the cover.

Speaking of the cover, I hate it.
There is no puppy in this book at all, there is an 80 lb dog, so the cover is just inaccurate for starters. And I have to say that is some of the worst Photoshop I’ve ever seen. Was it really too hard for you to put an actual puppy in a box and take a picture? You had to Photoshop a puppy in a box? Really?

Anyway, I thought this was a perfectly sweet story, and if you’re in mood for something light I could definitely see you enjoying this, though this one was just not for me.
Profile Image for Oliver Schnusenberg.
157 reviews5 followers
November 23, 2012
Ok, this has got to be a the book equivalent of a chick-flic :-) I bought it because I love dogs (have two) and thought the book was mostly about the dog. I started reading, and it is not about the dog, but mostly about the antagonist's personal life. Had I known that, I would have been unlikely to buy the book.

To make things weirder - I really liked this book :-) It was heartwarming, (minor spoiler alert), had a happy ending on all fronts and was well-written. We went to Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and I really wanted to stay and finish the book instead!!

The biggest positive in this book is that the plot felt very real. There were many times when I thought to myself "Ok, now she is going to twist the plot to make the book more marketable." That, however, never happened. Instead, the plot played out in a way that it would have in real life. That sounds boring, but in this world were plots are constantly bent to create more drama, I found it utterly refreshing.

A great read!! That was the first Allie Larkin book I read, and I think I am ready for the next one :-)
Profile Image for Averi Lopez .
219 reviews5 followers
September 5, 2022
Triggers: lost of a parent
"Everything is complicated. Paying bills, buying houses. Groceries are fking complicated. Nothing is easy." My voice was shaky. "Where do you get off thinking its going to be easy? Because let me tell you-let me tell you, it isn't. Its hard and complicated and sometimes it really, really sucks. But sometimes it doesn't. " - Allie larkin
My thoughts:
This book definitely had me in my feels, I think if a book can reach every emotion, it's a very good book. I really enjoyed it and if you love a small-town romcom that has a dog. This is the book for you. Even a cozy read and something quick and to get you in your feels this definitely for you.
Rating: 5🐕
Profile Image for Cyndy Aleo.
Author 10 books69 followers
May 20, 2011
Most of the books I pick up are things that look interesting at the library or a friend recommends. I'm never one to read bestseller lists or New York Times reviews, but I started hearing some pre-release buzz about Allie Larkin's Stay, and added it to my Amazon wishlist to track it. When I realized she was from the same city I am and an alum of my college, it bumped up to a must-read, and I ordered it right after it was released.

::: The Plot :::

Savanannah Leone has lost everything. Her father took off when she was a toddler. Her mother died of breast cancer right before Van graduated from college. And now her best friend from back home in Westchester has married the guy Van was in love with through four years of college and beyond. Life sucks.

Then right after the wedding, Savannah gets drunk and orders a dog online from a Web site in Slovakia. This far-fetched Internet purchase leads Van to a whole new group of people, and a realization that what she wanted may not be what she needs.

::: Just a Brilliant Debut :::

I'll be honest; I wanted to hate this book. I really did. The author is younger than me. She's published. And the book has so much great buzz you hope that it's another Twilight, a book that's okay, but just not as great as the hype. I'm happily disappointed to tell you that Stay is even better than the buzz.

So many stories that involve the best friend being left behind when the guy marries a girl who's prettier or more accomplished fall into the realm of cliche, but Stay surpasses it. Larkin has made Savannah a sympathetic character that the reader will be rooting for. The sections about Van's mother are enough to get you teary without being maudlin, and there were actually times I found myself shouting at the characters, something I rarely do with a book. The funny sections will make you laugh without veering into the dreaded "zany" territory, and the characters have enough dimension to keep you turning pages well after bedtime.

If I had a single complaint, it's that the beginning of the novel was a little bit of a struggle for me. While I loved the Rochester references (I often found myself trying to guess what parts of the city the characters lived in and looking up names of places to see what might be imagined versus real) right away, the beginning had me a bit worried that Stay was going to be too formulaic, bringing to mind movies like My Best Friend's Wedding and Must Love Dogs. Instead, Larkin has done what every writer dreams of doing successfully: teaching an old dog a new trick, and she does it brilliantly. Stay is a must-read.

This review was originally published on Epinions: http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_S...
Profile Image for Rayne.
7 reviews
May 17, 2013
When I was reading the book, "CHEESY!" was what echoed in my mind all the time!
I love romantic and pet stories; and I bought this book hoping I can read more lovely stories about some dogs, but I was disappointed on how the story was structured: there is a dog in the story, but the story is more centered on the poor pitiful girl - Van.
I'm not saying all stories should centered only on the dogs, but "Stay" can just dispose the idea of the dog and still progresses fine.
I mean, there is just so little thing happening around with the dog and I'm not sure if the book title even reflects the whole story! I think "Stay calm, Van" is more suitable! hahaha!
Anyway, the whole thing is just too cheesy and I have to admit 80% of the story can be expected.
But I enjoyed reading it to know what's coming - which I already know, a happy ending for her.
But at least the author can compensate the concept, the title, the book cover with a story more related to dog! The ending made me felt like.. yea... girl you got the happy ending! And poor doggy with such little "screen time".

But, it's a fine book... Just a little bit immature in my own taste...
Profile Image for Andrea.
194 reviews23 followers
April 26, 2013
A charming, big-hearted novel about Savannah (Van), a young woman who has devoted the last few years of her life to pining after her good friend from college, Peter, who falls in love with her childhood best friend, Janie. When the two officially tie the knot, however, she is finally forced to make a clean break. Drunk and lonely one night, she "accidentally" buys a German shepherd puppy from Slovakia over the internet, and her life gets just the shake-up she's been needing. I loved the complex characters in this book and how Larkin pushes past formulaic plot conventions. Really funny and heart-warming!
Profile Image for Jintana.
137 reviews10 followers
September 14, 2012
นางเอกที่ตกหลุมรักเพื่อนชายตั้งแต่พบกันวันแรก จนหกปีต่อมาเธอต้องมายืนเป็นเพื่อนเจ้าสาวแทนเป็นเจ้าสาวเสียเอง

เมื่อผิดหวังจากรักครั้งแรก (ที่จริงก็คือแอบรักโดยไม่เคยบอกให้เจ้าตัวหรือแม้แต่เพื่อนรักรู้)เธอกินเหล้าจนเมา ความเหงาประจวบกับความสิ้นหวังเธอเข้าไปซื้อลูกสุนัขจากต่างประเทศในเว็บ เธอคิดว่าการมีลูกสุนัขตัวเล็กๆ ไว้คอยเป็นเพื่อนคงไม่ใช่เรื่องยาก แต่เมื่อปรากฎว่าลูกสุนัขตัวเล็ก ๆ กลับกลายเป็นลูกสุนัขตัวโตเบ้อเริ่ม ชีวิตที่เงียบเหงาของเธอก็เปลี่ยนไปในข้ามวัน เพราะเจ้าลูกสุนัขตัวนี้แหละเป็นพ่อสื่อให้เธอได้พบกับรักครั้งใหม่

Profile Image for Susan Bazzett-Griffith.
1,735 reviews46 followers
May 11, 2016
I loved this book. The first two chapters or so I was very "meh", figuring it would be more typical chick lit, and it was, sort of, and it was a tad predictable, but once I hit about 1/4 of the way through the book, I didn't want to put it down at all. The characterization was real and vivid and the dog-- I LOVED the dog! The book made me laugh several times and cry a little. Allie Larkin's writing is very reminiscent in tone and style to my all time favorite woman author, Jennifer Weiner. I can't wait to read more from her!
Profile Image for Mackenzie.
85 reviews
August 16, 2018
Song for summary: Just Give Me a Reason by P!nk

I quite enjoyed this book, it was a lovely read about friendship, forgiveness, hidden love, and new beginnings. The flawed characters were charming yet relatable, and the storyline was bittersweet but also entertaining. By the end of the book I was ready to go online and order my own Slovakian German Shepherd companion.
Profile Image for Piepie | The Napping Bibliophile.
1,938 reviews139 followers
March 11, 2020
I really loved this book! I loved how Savannah, "Van," was so realistic ... cleaning her house at odd times, wearing stained clothes, and sharing ice cream with her dog. Her story is original and funny and compelling, and her pup, Joe, is unforgettable. Any book with a German Shepherd on the cover I have to read, and I highly recommend this one. Definitely got some "Bridget Jones" vibes.
Profile Image for Valentina.
201 reviews
May 24, 2019
L'ho comprato per sbaglio. Non ho più 15 anni e non riesco a sostenere una lettura così frivola! Abbandonato.
Profile Image for Katey BC.
65 reviews34 followers
August 5, 2020
This is not normally my cup of tea, but my friend who doesn't read a whole lot swore up and down that it would be a fun read. She was right! I fell in love with the doggo straight away! Sometimes the protagonist annoyed me, but overall it was a nice light-hearted read. Besides, who doesn't wish that a sweet veterinarian would fall in love with them?
Profile Image for Melissa Browne.
115 reviews1 follower
July 25, 2019
This book was adorable. I loved it so so much and it made me cry at one point. I love how all her relationships changed throughout the book. Honestly it was realistic in most ways which I liked, it wasn't a sugar coated fairytale. I pick up this book at a warehouse sale and I'm so happy I grabbed it last minute because I loved this book.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
560 reviews18 followers
July 24, 2014
Savannah “Van” Leone has just watched the love of her life, Peter, marry her best friend Janie. Wallowing in sadness and Kool-Aid vodka cocktails, Van impulsively orders a German Shepard puppy online from Slovakia, who she names Joe. After the purchase, she realizes he cost $6,000, and when he arrives, he’s a lot bigger than expected, and only understands commands in Slovakian. Though he’s a bit much, Van loves him something fierce. He helps heal her heart, broken from losing the love of her life, and the death of her mother a few years earlier to cancer. While putting the pieces of her life back together, she meets Joe’s cute new vet, Alex, who may just be the (rest of the) answer to mending her heart.

What a wonderful and moving story about the love of animals and the special bonds we form with our pets! As a huge animal lover, I was touched by this story, and also laughed in recognition at all the funny dog antics. I loved Joe and wish he was mine. My dog’s cute and all, but he does NOT understand Slovakian and let me cry on his fur.

I knew I was going to love this book from the opening scene in which Van is attending the wedding of her two best friends/love of her life. I loved Van’s tone. It was dry, sarcastic, and pessimistic. Plus, I kept hearing it in Allie’s voice from the reading and she’s a good reader!

While this book had its light and fun moments, I liked that it also explored some deeper, more serious issues. Van and Janie have a unique past and the relationship is somewhat hurt by it. Van’s mother worked as a housekeeper for Janie’s rich family. Van and her mother lived in their carriage house, and Van and Janie became quick friends, while Van’s mother and Janie’s mother, Diane, became best friends as well. When Van’s mother dies, the dynamics are entirely thrown off, and Diane pushes Van away, leaving Van feeling hollow and alone.

When Van meets Peter in college, she loves him instantly. He keeps her as a best friend, but rejects her as a potential love interest when his rich family rejects her because she doesn’t live up to their high (read: rich) standards. She keeps loving him though.

Van has suffered a lot of heartbreak and Joe was the perfect catalyst for all of it. For once, Van felt loved and less alone. For those of you who understand and cherish the love of an animal, this is a must read! For those of you who also love exploring the intricacies of friendships and love, this is a must read for you, too.
Profile Image for Lydia Laceby.
Author 1 book62 followers
July 18, 2012
Originally Reviewed at Novel Escapes

If I could recommend only one book to read this summer, it might very well be Stay. There’s some stiff competition, but I adored this book from Joe’s doggie antics, to Van’s journey. This book captured my heart – so much so that I wanted to reach out and wrap my arms around Van at every turn. Stay is about unrequited love, finding oneself and starting over and was wrapped in warmth and humour. It’s touching, charming and full of laugh out loud moments along the way. It can’t get much better than that with chick lit in my opinion.

I almost finished Stay in one sitting, which is a rarity for me. If I’d started the book an hour earlier I would have, but droopy eyes and not wanting to miss anything forced me put it down. Then I picked it right back up with my morning coffee. I didn’t want this book to end and will definitely read it again!

This book was so simply written, yet carried such emotional weight. I was floored by the writing and tried to study it while reading, but would get carried off by the story again and forget I was trying to figure out how Allie Larkin had written it.

I hadn’t laughed as hard with a novel as I did when she buys Joe and hadn’t connected and routed for a character this much in a while. Van’s character, as well as all the others, were so well developed, their motivations and intentions clear and the plot rolled along seamlessly and tugged at my heart strings until the very last word.

Stay hit me the way Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed did so many years ago and if I get around to redoing my Top 10 list, something’s getting bumped. I wish I could give it more than a 5 star rating! Don’t miss this fantastic debut by Allie Larkin. I can’t wait to read more of her and she’s now at the top of my must-read list.
Profile Image for Skandia.
97 reviews22 followers
March 22, 2016
I'm a dog lover. Big time. Every book with good, fun dog character in it usually makes a story so much better. This time, although Joe the German Shepherd "puppy" was adorable and one of the best behaving dogs I've read about, he could not save the story for me.

At first, it looked promising and funny. To get over the heartbreak of her best friend marrying the man of her dreams, Savannah gets really drunk and accidentally buys a puppy online from Slovakia. This should have been the first warning. How drunk and stupid you have to be to buy a dog online?
It was hilarious first when instead a little puppy a much, much bigger dog arrived and reacted only to commands in Slovak but soon, sadly, he was left to background and the heroine started really bug me a lot.

At the beginning Savannah felt refreshing change to all the perfect romance heroines. She drank, swore, was lazy and sloppy but after all what she went through, I thought she'll pull it together eventually. No such luck. She continued to getting drunk, being messy and lazy. A lot. I'm not a prude, far from it, but seriously, this was a lot of drinking. As I'm personally against solving problems with sinking them into alcohol, it really started to irritate me. Then there was her love interest, Alex the Vet. Yeah, well, I got the impression that he was in this story because it was supposed to be a romance, so there should be a man for that. His character was very underdeveloped and boring. I could not actually picture them together without Joe being in the mix and that should say something about their chemistry.

Anyway, there are lot better romance stories for animal lovers out there. I could have read a book by Kristan Higgins instead of this mediocre romance. Still, I loved Joe and as always , he earned an extra star for this book!
Profile Image for Dana.
727 reviews
December 31, 2016
"Stay," by Allie Larkin was one of the most fun and delightful novels I have read in years! I wish there were another word than "love" to describe how I felt about it, because love is overused, but for lack of a better word, just know that I ABSOLUTELY loved this novel! Van (Savannah) has been in love with Pete for nearly 10 years, since they met in college, but she was from the wrong side of the tracks and he never let their friendship grow into more. Instead, he married her best friend, Jane. Van grew up in a cottage on Jane's family's property. Van's mother was a housekeeper in the big house in which Jane grew up. The girls were always best friends and playmates. Years later, it was only natural that Van would introduce her Pete to Jane, never thinking the 2 people she loved would become an item. Fast forward to the present, and the characters are now in their late 20's's. On the night of Pete's and Jane's wedding, Van is bereft. After the wedding, in a drunken moment, while watching an old Rin Tin Tin movie, she orders a dog via the internet, expecting to be getting a little fluff ball. Instead, when she picks the puppy up, having spent more than $6000 for him, she learns that the dog is from Slovakia, only responds to commands in Slovak, and that he weighs 100 lbs, despite being a puppy! Her neighbors think he is a beast, but he is the sweetest, most affectionate puppy. The vet to whom Van takes her dog for an exam is quite sweet and charming, as well. This story is all heart, with so much love and history amongst the characters. There is baggage and heartache, but also hope and lots of laughter. If you want to read a "feel good" book, this is your book!
Profile Image for Jan.
510 reviews15 followers
September 3, 2011
I'm borrowing parts of this review from another one of my chick-lit book reviews, largely because, on some level, all of these chick-lit books are basically the same.

Okay, let's be honest here. If you're anything like me, you don't read a book like this because it's a lyrical masterpiece or because you expect to get a lot out of it. You read it for entertainment, and because you like things that wrap up in nice boxes with happy endings. You read it because it's fun. Like candy for the brain.

In this variety of brain candy, our protagonist Van has been in love with her best guy friend since her first day of college. But she, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, isn't rich enough for his parents, so he goes ahead and falls in love with her best girl friend instead. After their wedding, Van gets drunk and accidentally orders a dog off the Internet. Then guess who enters her life? A hunky and totally perfect vet, of course. Other variables include: a deceased mother, vaguely sinister and meddlesome rich people, and (a little randomly) an old Italian guy who's the vet's best friend.

Of course, it all turns out great in the end. Van gets her groove back, so to speak, and gets her man. Like you were expecting anything different. But the predictability is all part of the fun. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Who doesn't love a conveniently perfect happy ending?
Profile Image for Nolan.
2,283 reviews23 followers
September 8, 2017
Over the past several months, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with the romance genre, stepping away from it without much regret. But this book was a hard-drive holdover, and I’m actually glad I gave it a shot. Here’s why:

Savannah (Van) Leone has been quietly in love with Peter Clark for years. They attended the same college, but that’s where the common ground ended in many respects. Peter is well off; Van is the daughter of a women who kept house for a wealthy family in Westchester, New York. His parents hated her from the first minute, and as a romance, it never went anywhere—but not because she didn’t want it to.

On one fateful day, Van introduces Peter to Janie, the daughter of the women for whom her mother worked. Van and Janie had been solid friends growing up, but it was always Janie whose needs were met, since she was the little rich girl and Van the daughter of the hired help.

On the day of the wedding, Van dutifully carried out her obligations as a maid of honor, came home, got roaring drunk, started watching a Rin Tin Tin marathon on cable, went online, and ordered a German Shepherd puppy from a breeder in Czechoslovakia. She dropped a cool $6,000 on the dog.

The next day, now much sobered, Van is horrified to learn that a dog she had paid for would arrive at the airport in a crate the following day. She presses forward, buying puppy supplies—a dainty leash, a tiny collar—only to find that the massive beast in the crate at the airport is not the puppy she assumes she’s getting.

This, then, is Van’s story of a lovely romance between her and Joe, the clumsy but well-tempered dog, who understands foreign commands, and as long as you know those words, you can get him to obey rather nicely. The former owners were thoughtful enough to tack a list of those words along with the food recipe for what the dog was used to eating inside the crate.

But Van knows she needs to get the dog to a vet to ensure that he’s ok, and she picks one randomly out of the book. Enter Alex, the nice-looking single veterinarian who, as you already surmised, is instantly attracted to Van and she to him.

So if this book is so formulaic and so typical as a romance, why am I encouraging you to give it a try? First, because the character of Van is so wonderfully carved out here. She is all at once vulnerable, independent and strong, and above all, lovable. Granted, this is a typical romance, but there are some additions that make it better. Van changes over the course of the book in good ways. Dog lovers will be drawn to this story out of an appreciation for Joe, Van’s online dog purchase. Larkin does a nice job of portraying him exactly as the dog he is, not some anthropomorphized version of a dog.

The F-bomb falls with moderate frequency here, and there is one sex scene that is described, but not in molecular detail. But if avoiding profanity and sexual descriptions is your thing, this is probably worthy of either staying away from or at the very least being alert to those passages that might be problematic and being able to skim quickly.

Julia Whelan’s performance is stellar. She particularly seems to integrate her voice into Van and bring Van alive. I could see a book club taking this one on, because there are lots of places you could go as far as character development. The story is set during the Christmas and New Year holidays, which prove wonderful additions to the change of character that Van and others experience. It’s not a Christmas book per se, but the holidays are an important backdrop.

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