This book is a lovely mix of what a romantic comedy should be – light and funny with some undertones of seriousness. Stay by Allie Larkin will make you laugh (out loud), think about some of the big issues in life (without sending you into a tailspin) and wrap it all up with a happy ending.

Savannah (“Van”) Leone has long been in love with her college pal Peter, but he falls for Van’s best friend Janie instead. Van is forced to stand by (as the Maid of Honor) and watch them get married, leaving her to her lonely life. In a fit of self-pity, she gets drunk while watching a marathon of Rin Tin Tin movies and gets it into her head that she needs a German Shepherd that will save her and always be with her. A little drunk-googling soon finds her the perfect puppy and before she can sober up, she’s bought a dog.

Imagine Van’s surprise when the expected cute little puppy turns out to be a huge, nearly full-grown, black, long-haired beast. Who only understands Slovakian commands. And takes over half the bed in no time flat. At first Van is terrified, but Joe (as she renames him) worms his way into her heart almost as quickly as the bed and he turns out to be exactly what she needs – someone who sticks with her no matter what, who makes life more interesting and a lot more fun, someone who will love her back. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Joe’s new vet is super gorgeous and available!)

The romance here is pretty predictable – girl-has-heart-broken, girl-meets-cute-guy, girl-and-cute-guy-have-issues, girl-and-cute-guy-overcome-issues, happy-ending. But the characters are likeable and realistic with messy, imperfect lives who try hard to be better. Van’s continuing struggle with her grief over her Mother’s death and her search for her own “family” adds depth and complexity.  The real charm of the book though is Joe with his cheerful personality and big heart. And in no time,  just like Van, you’ll fall in love with Joe too.