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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Unleashed by Rachel Lacey

Unleashed - Rachel Lacey

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review

Cara has just gotten back from her childhood friend's funeral, a friend she went through chemo with.  It's been eight years of remission for Cara and with the added reminder of her friend's death she refuses to really live her life until she hits that magical ten year mark.  The problem is that her photography business is starting to take off with or without her permission, two of her foster dogs are beginning to feel more like furever pals, and her sexy neighbor Matt may just be the one capable of getting past her barriers.  Matt also isn't looking for anything permanent, his mother is having some health scares, he is going to be relocating to Boston very soon, and he is dealing with a P.I. case that may be more than it seems.  They may not have time for each other but they definitely need one another.
Due to her health issues and the psychological fear they caused, Cara was a very guarded character which in turn made her a little hard to warm up to.  As the reader, I never felt like I was with her in her trials and tribulations but instead a distant observer.  The emotion wasn't quite there as Cara kept up her brick wall for a lot of the story.  It was through her interactions and banter with Matt that the reader gains a connection.  There are a handful of extended scenes where Cara and Matt get to shine and I really began to enjoy the story, I just wish there could have been a little more.  Matt started off and was set up to be a very interesting character and again I wished the story could have delved into him more.  There was some meat to the tangents dealing with his mother and Marine days but especially with the IED bombing that derailed his career, I wanted it to be ingrained with a longer connection to the story. Instead it’s a kept secret that keeps him guarded, a one night kind of deflating explanation, and then never to be dealt with again.  The reader really gets to know Cara and Matt when they are together but there is enough of the story where they are separate to keep from truly embracing them.
There was a lot happening in this book and while all the story threads imposed on the romance at times, they were also very well written and coherently flowed perfectly together.  As a dog lover I particularly enjoyed all the dog talk and rescuing shelter and abused boxers; if you're also a fan of doggies then this book should definitely go on your to be read list.  I think if the author could have cut one or two of the side stories, Matt's crazy client, his mother's stroke, or Cara trying to rescue the two neglected boxers and substituted it with more Matt and Cara time it would have improved the story immensely.  There was also a great deal of starting and stopping kissing between Matt and Cara that reached borderline annoying and felt manipulated; a little throw back to the days of "I want you but I can't possibly have you!".  
Overall, Unleashed was an enjoyable read with adorable dogs whose personalities shine through enough to make you wish you could adopt them, a plethora of life issues, and leads that have chemistry when together.  Additionally, there are some secondary characters that make enough of a splash, mainly Cara's friend Merry who runs the boxer rescue, to cause some curiosity and make this series worth watching the calendar dates for.