Tragedy sent Addie Andrews fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance—her beloved aunt’s somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas, population very tiny. There she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories. If only they didn’t make her feel so much!
People say nothing happens in small towns, but Addie quickly learns better. She’s got an elderly next-door neighbor who perplexingly dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, a best friend whose son uncannily predicts the weather, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.
Most surprising of all, she’s got a dog. Not just any dog, but a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost, and in desperate need of love. Kind of like Addie herself. She’d come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon she discovers that perhaps she’s finding her way back—to living, laughing, and loving once more.
You think the adorable puppy on the cover is charming? Wait until you read the story!
The story grabs you fairly early on with Addie's discovery of Felix by the Mississippi River. He's covered in cuts and scratches and burns. He's been tied in a garbage bag. And, as Addie finds out later at the veterinarian's office, someone SHOT the little (young) dog. I tell you, I wanted to jump into the pages of the book and help Addie track down and bring justice to the pieces of *ahem* doodoo that did that.
Eunice, Arkansas, has a little of what's good and bad about a small town. If you upset the local drug dealer, you don't have a lot of places to hide. If the single son of the town's wealthiest family happens to drive you home on his tractor one night, all of a sudden, you and he are an 'item'. But if something bad happens to you, there are also people that will arrange meals, dog sitting, etc., whatever you need while you mend.
I have to say it kind of warmed this old country girl's heart that people were as rabidly interested in dear, departed Aunt Tilda's recipe box as they would have been in a buried treasure discovered on the property. (There are quite a number of recipes included the back of the book and I am SO going to make the fried pies before the year is out.)
At the beginning, I thought Sit! Stay! Speak! was just going to be a sweet comtemporary fiction, but the action became breathtaking as the denouement drew near. And Addie isn't the only one interested in Jasper, so you know sparks are going to fly in from that direction as well. Add to that the requisite tornado appearance and this is one exciting read!
There is a scene or two where the action between Addie and Jasper becomes a little too graphic for my taste, but not so much so that I wondered whether the story or the sex was most important. (I actually closed the cover when my son came into the living room so he would not see what was on the page.)
Because of that, this book cannot be strictly called a cozy mystery, but it's about as cozy as you can get otherwise. Maybe it's a genre-introducing "semi-cozy mystery"!
Whatever you call it, if you like cozy mysteries (they are my favorite), you will adore Sit! Stay! Speak! I you like contemporary fiction with a hint of spice, you will like this book as well. Because of the sex, I wouldn't recommend as a book for the younger set. (My daughter is 12 and although she would LOVE to read the book because of the puppy on the cover, she won't be reading it for a couple of years.)
I give Sit! Stay! Speak! a strong four stars out of five and leave you with the following thought...
MEET THE AUTHOR
Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.
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(Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)