Stay - Allie Larkin (2010)

Van Leone stood by as maid of honour as her best friend, Janie, married Peter, the man Van has been in love with since college. After a long night drowning her sorrows in vodka, Van accidentally purchases a puppy on the internet. Van is shocked when a huge German Shepherd arrives at the airport from Slovakia. But she quickly becomes devoted to her new dog, Joe, and her life takes a turn for the better when she meets adorable Alex, Joe's vet. Just as things with Joe and Alex are starting to work out, Peter and Janie return from their honeymoon and past emotions are stirred up. This is a wonderfully written debut novel with characters that you will fall in love with. (AO)

The heroine of Allie Larkin's debut novel, Stay - about a lovelorn woman who becomes a dog owner - developed out of a writing class exercise. The summary says: "Savannah 'Van' Leone has loved Peter since the day they met. The problem is, Peter has loved Van's best friend, Janie, since the moment they met. And now they're walking down the aisle, with Van standing nearby in a Halloween orange bridesmaid dress, her smile as hollow as a jack-o-lantern. After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin-Tin-Tin, and does what any woman in her situation would do: She buys a German Shepherd over the internet. The pocket-sized puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast that only responds to Slovakian. Van is at the end of her rope - until she realises that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what. And thus begins a friendship that will alter Van's life in ways she never imagined. Joe leads Van to Dr Alex Brandt, a rugged vet with floppy blond hair and winning smile. But just as things are starting to heat up, the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, forcing Van to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted." The cover model is Larkin's own dog, Argo. You can read chapter one at the author's website. Or check out the book trailer below.

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