Claire Cook has written a sequel to her bestselling novel "Must Love Dogs," which was made into a movie starring John Cusack and Diane Lane.
"Must Love Dogs" put Cook on her way to a successful writing career at the age of 50. Since she fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author at 45, her books generally have the theme of reinvention.
The second book, "Must Love Dogs: New Leash on Life," follows the same wonderful theme of reinvention with the lovable and quirky characters in the Hurlihy family.
Preschool teacher Sarah, our heroine, is in love with John Anderson, after getting together through dating ads in the first book. But there are complications in the sequel because Sarah's big family and her siblings' personal lives take over her own life, and she has a hard time saying no to them.
At the beginning of "New Leash on Life," Sarah's brother Michael has moved in with her while his wife and he are going through a divorce. With Michael are his two daughters, whom Aunt Sarah loves, but they take up her time, too. So John and Sarah have trouble finding time together to let their relationship grow, breathe and lead to happily ever after.
Plus, Horatio, John's dog, doesn't seem too fond of Sarah, although it turns out there might be a secret reason. And there's a woman at work whom Sarah feels is also getting in the way of her and John.
As always, Cook puts an interesting cast of characters and problems together, while her hero and heroine work out their individual flaws and hopefully find themselves in a healthy relationship at the end.
Although "Must Love Dogs: New Leash on Life" is a sequel and romantic women's fiction, Cook keeps the plot fresh with her humor and creativity. This includes an unusual idea that goes wrong for Sarah at a preschool graduation, a social interaction class for smart computer geeks and a character named Sugar Butt. Readers will root for John and Sarah as they maneuver their way through the dating world and their complicated lives.
This is Cook's 11th novel. She wrote her first in her minivan while waiting to pick up her kids.
She writes in her bio, "If you have a buried dream, trust me, it is never too late. ... I like to think the heroines in my novels have helped lots of women find their own next chapters, and I also take great joy in sharing what I've learned so far on the Reinvention and Writing pages at ClaireCook.com."
Cook communicates regularly with her fans on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. She is a hands-on author and offers several opportunities to connect with her on her website. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband, close to their two grown children.
At the end of "New Leash On Life," Cook includes a recipe for Horatio's Droolicious Blueberry Applesauce Peanut Butter Treats and questions for book club members. She also states that she is planning a third entry in the "Must Love Dogs" series. She has a newsletter for updates that fans can sign up for on her website, too.
Check out "New Leash on Life" for a fun read or if you are a fan of the movie or first book. And of course, if you love dogs, this is a must-read.
Margo L. Dill is the author of "Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg," a middle grade historical fiction novel. She often reviews books as a columnist for "WOW! Women On Writing" e-zine and her blog, "Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them" (margodill.com/blog/). She lives in St. Louis with her family.