by Jenn McKinlay
Series: A Bluff Point Romance #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance
LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD.
Carly DeCusati returned home to Bluff Point, Maine, with her tail between her legs. But she’s determined to get her life back on track—and that means finding new homes for the elderly golden retriever and overly talkative parrot she inherited before her old life fell apart.
Enter physical therapist and hot one-night stand James Sinclair. James doesn’t care that Carly doesn’t do relationships. He is determined to win her heart, promising to help her with the pets if she’ll just give him the time of day.
Carly agrees to date the irresistible James, and, for the first time in years, she’s dreaming of a happily ever after. But James has secrets, and if he can’t open up to Carly, their future could go to the dogs...
BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE by Jenn McKinlay was absolutely freakin’ adorable. This is the second contemporary romance story in the Bluff Point Romance series and it delivered all the swoons, snark and swoons I could hope for in a novel. McKinlay included four and two-legged friends that stole my heart.
Be sure to check out our exclusive excerpt and message from author Jenn McKinlay!
If you remember I struggled with book one, ABOUT A DOG, but oh boy did I love Carly and James story. Even though this is a series, each book works as a standalone and features friends from their group.
Coffee Dates with Barking Up the Wrong Tree
- First Date: Our date begins in New York as Carly DeCusati learns her next-door neighbor bequeathed her a menagerie of pets that include a saucy parrot named Ike and an older golden retriever named Saul. After losing her job and with no prospects on the horizon she is heading home to Bluffs Point. To say, Carly has reached a low point would be an understatement. When she gets home, her parents jump in their car destined for sunny Florida, shouting take care of your sister and the house. The sisters are like oil and vinegar. Between the pets and Carly’s snark, I am quickly pulled in. McKinlay had me laughing aloud during scenes where the bird gets loose. At the local pub, she meets James Sinclair, the sexy personal trainer she encountered early that day. Their chemistry is off the charts, and it looks like Carly will get lucky.
- Second Date: Carly doesn’t do relationships, and never sleeps with the same man twice. An arrangement she is quite happy with. It was fun seeing this reversal of roles, as typically it is the hero who has hang-ups. The morning-after scene had me choking as I snorted coffee through my nose laughing. There is a story behind James, and it was interesting seeing this thread develop. To her the night was lovely, and they are over, but James wants more, and this bright, smexy man is making Carly feel all kinds of things. I loved the banter, snarky comments, and sizzling hot chemistry as Carly tries to deny it even as she wishes he’d kiss her. Time spent with friends, trying to get the pets adopted into good homes and securing a new job are all weaved into the tale. The animals are all adorable and at times stole the show. I want to adopt them all. Ike made me laugh until I had tears. I enjoyed all the secondary characters and seeing the developments between Carly and her little sister. A scene at the veterinarian’s office has me dying to get my hands on book three.
- Third Date: I am in love with James and if Carly doesn’t jump him I will! I was sold before I saw his home and then I melted into goo. The Sinclair family, whoopie pies, and folks from the past cause some hiccups. The drama was minimal and the big issue didn’t seem like much to me, but I had to look at it through Carly’s eyes. I am confident and know my worth, but Carly has had some serious hits lately to her psyche. That along with her relationship history is enough to make someone skittish. Thankfully, communication, swoon-worthy romantic gestures and following one’s heart ruled the day.
Funny, sexy and adorkable, BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE is a romantic comedy you will want to add to your bookshelf.
Exclusive Excerpt & Message from Jenn
Hi, thanks so much for inviting me to visit! I’m very excited to have my second Bluff Point Romance BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE, coming out this week. Here’s an exclusive excerpt just for readers of the Caffeinated Reviewer I chose one of my fave scenes because I love watching the chemistry between the characters! Happy reading! ~ Jenn
When Carly picks up James:
Even though it was October, Carly had pulled together her go-to outfit for pickups, which consisted of a cute, floral mini-dress more suited to June paired with calf hugging brown leather boots with treacherous heels, and a delicate little sweater that did more to frame the girls than it did to keep her warm.
As she crossed the pub, she hoped her effort had not been for nothing. Judging by the way James watched her walking toward him, it had not. His hazel eyes lit up, making them more blue than gray. He rubbed his hand over his hair as if preparing for her approach, adorable, proving Carly’s theory about his style of grooming, casual with a side of sloppy, even more adorable.
She paused in front of his table, pleased to see that his eyes stayed on hers and didn’t venture south. He was respectful. That earned him some serious points. She rested her elbows on the table and propped her chin on her hands.
“Excuse me,” she said. She made sure she kept her voice low so he had to lean in to hear her. He did. He didn’t say a word, but one of his eyebrows rose higher than the other letting her know he was listening.
“My friends and I were having a discussion and I was wondering if you, being a guy, could weigh in on it for us.”
“All right,” he said. His voice was a beautiful deep bass that made her spine reverberate in response. She had to force herself to stay still and not wiggle with anticipation.
“We were just debating whether men like it better if a woman waxes, shaves, or goes au naturel. Thoughts?”
He didn’t move for a second and then using his foot he pushed out the chair his friend had vacated and gestured for her to have a seat. Yep, that line worked every time.
“Seems to me that is going to require some thought,” he said. “What can I get you to drink, Carly? It was Carly, wasn’t it?”
She smiled, liking that he’d caught her name this afternoon. Then she gave him a side look as if considering his offer. “A dirty martini would be lovely, James.”
He grinned at her, clearly pleased that she’d gotten his name, too.
“Coming up,” he said. He stopped the waitress as she passed them, giving her their order.
Carly noted that he was drinking Bluff Point Ale on tap and she knew that Sam, Zach and Brad would approve of him right away because they co-owned the Bluff Point Brewery. She’d have to look to Gavin, who being a veterinarian was more of an animal person than a people person and as such had higher standards, to advise her on her catch of the day.
Carly slid onto the seat and faced him.
“Nice to officially meet you, Carly,” he said and offered her his hand. There was an intent look on his face that she couldn’t read, but she liked it. He was definitely giving her his full attention and what girl didn’t like that?
“You, too, James,” she said.
His hand swallowed hers up in one gulp and then released it. She’d been right. He had big, manly callused paws that she desperately wanted to feel against her skin. A flash of heat hit her low and deep.
Wow, that was intense. Her life had been swirling in the bowl for so long, she hadn’t been attracted to any man in a very long time. Even if it went nowhere tonight, it was nice to feel the fizz and zip of attraction again.
“Carly,” he said as if he liked the sound of it on his tongue. “Nice name.”
“I was named for my great aunt Carlotta, who had a wart on her upper lip with two hairs growing out of it,” she said. She tapped one ruby red fingertip on her upper lip.
His eyes widened and Carly fought to keep her face straight but when his gaze studied her mouth as if looking for a wart, she cracked and laughed. He gave her an amused look and then he leaned across the table into her personal space.
“Why do I get the feeling you just tricked me into studying your perfectly shaped mouth?” he asked.
“Me?” she asked innocently. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Perfectly shaped, huh?”
“Except…wait…is that…” his voice trailed off as he stared at her mouth with concern.
Carly felt a moment of horror. What if she actually had a wart? Or a pimple? She pressed her fingers to her lips, feeling for any bumps. Sweet chili dogs, she didn’t even have an Aunt Carlotta. It was just a joke.
Then she noticed the wicked twinkle in his eye. Hot damn! The boy knew how to play.
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