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4.5 out of 5 stars
Take a Chance on Me
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2003
I had so much fun reading this book! Susan Donovan is a new author for me and this is my first book by her (though it's actually her second - Knock Me Off My Feet is her first). She has a great sense of humour and a nice way with characters - I laughed out loud often reading this book!
Thomas Tobin works on a Maryland State Police task force and poses as a hitman for hire. Given his line of work (not to mention his personal experiences), he's got little faith in human nature and figures everyone has a dark side. He discovers his best informant dead and his weird little dog nearby. He takes the dog, "Hairy", home with him only to discover that he has some serious behavioral problems and soon finds himself in the office of vet/animal behaviorist Dr Emma Jenkins. He finds Emma very attractive in an open, fresh farm-girl way, but he fights it since he's vowed never to get involved with another woman after his last disastrous relationship. But he can't help his attraction and winds up sending out some serious mixed signals!
Emma has recently divorced a husband who was unfaithful, reckless with money and who never really appreciated her. She's working hard to keep her practice afloat and she's also become guardian to 12 year old Leelee, the daughter of her wild, reckless, and now deceased best friend. And now the most gorgeous man she's ever seen has waltzed into her life, but he leaves her so confused, she's not sure he's worth the effort (is he a moron, a nut or Mr Right?). But when he tells her he believes that Hairy may have witnessed the murder, and asks her to help him look for clues, she can't resist. And while working on the case, they fall for one another but will old patterns repeat or is this finally the real thing?
Being born and raised in suburban Maryland and currently living in Baltimore City, I thoroughly enjoyed having the state and city featured as the setting for this book and knowing the areas she references I could picture the action. The disco references at the beginning of each chapter were very cute and well used (especially when you find out about Hairy's special talent!) and any book that details a dog's inner dialog is bound to be a hit with me! Hairy is a terrific character - just as important to the story as his two-legged counterparts! Thomas and Emma are appealing characters and a great couple. Leelee is both street smart and vulnerable as she tries to figure out her place in Emma's life and whether Thomas is a threat to her new found family. An author to watch and a book that is highly recommended! I'm off to read Knock Me Off My Feet next!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2003
Last year I read Donovan's "Knock Me Off My Feet," and really enjoyed it a great deal. I didn't learn that it was her first book until afterwards, and then I was even more impressed! So it was with great anticipation that I greeted the arrival of "Take a Chance on Me" at the bookstore. And whoah, was my anticipation justified! "Take" is a great contemporary romance, with wonderful secondary characters, a dog you just want to take home yourself, and a well-paced romance between characters you can really love.
I must admit it took me a few minutes to get into "Take," but once I did, I enjoyed it thoroughly. That's not to say that it's a perfect book... Donovan still does a much better job with characters and relationship development than she does with the whole "suspense/mystery" element. Some of the book's "coincidences" are a bit too much to be believed, and the romantic development was so well-crafted that sometimes the whole suspense plot seemed tacked-on. Not only that, but Donovan moves between Thomas' and Emma's voices a great deal, which can be confusing. I wish the people laying out the book had put a bit of whitespace in whenever she switched, because it took my brain awhile to catch on.
Still, if you're into contemporary romances, especially ones with a sense of humor, you'll definitely want to "Take a Chance on Me." (Bad pun, but I couldn't resist!)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 20, 2005
You gotta love a book where the author makes a hairless dog one of the main characters (who has his own dialog and everything), and names him "Hairy."

When burly undercover investigator Thomas Tobin shows up at veterinarian Emma Jenkins animal behavior clinic, Emma is taken aback that such a hunky man would own a Chinese Crested (bald except for a striking fluff of white hair on his head). But she tries to help him with the skittish dog.

Turns out that Hairy was owned by a flamboyant informant who is found dead, and Hairy is the only witness.

Both Thomas and Emma were burned in previous relationships, and Emma is still paying for her disastrous marriage. She recently became the guardian of her best friend's daughter, and is not sure she has time for a man in her life. Of course, that soon changes.

Donovan cleverly names each chapter (and the title of the book) after disco tunes. As the story unfolds, the reason becomes clear. Part romance, part police procedural drama, and part animal planet fodder, it is a delightful read and will keep you hooked until the very last page.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
In Baltimore, Thomas Tobin inherited the six pound canine Hairy when the dog's owner was murdered. Feeling a bit of guilt, as the victim was his informant, Thomas takes in the furball, but has no idea how to care for the creature. However, he notices how Hairy becomes frightened whenever he sees a blender so he wonder is perhaps the dog has associated that kitchen gadget with the homicide.
Thomas takes his pooch to animal behaviorist Dr. Emma Jenkins who lectures him about how to take care of a tiny dog as Thomas treats Hairy as if he was a Doberman. As Emma and Thomas become better acquainted, they fall in love though neither wants those feelings and both struggled mightily to control their libido. She is still recovering from her ex plus is taking care of LeeLee, the daughter of a recently deceased friend. He has enough on his plate between an unwanted canine and a killer on the loose who just might be targeting those that matter to Thomas: Hairy, Emma, and LeeLee.
Fans who take a chance on this novel will feel rewarded as Susan Donovan deftly combines humor, suspense, and romance into a delightful tale. The story line is fast-paced and action-packed, but also insures the characters are fully developed including the frightened little Chinese Crested canine. Thus the audience receives a strong novel in which the stalking killer is often forgotten while the quartet of interrelationships form. TAKE A CHANCE ON ME is a fun, funny frolic.
Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2003
Emma Jenkins is a vet who specializes in animal behavior. She is not sure who presents a bigger challenge to her, the nervous dog Hairy or his owner studly Thomas Tobin. Hairy was traumatized when he saw his previous owner being killed. Thomas needs Emma's help in getting Hairy used to his new home and to help him solve the murder. In turn Emma and Thomas need Hairy's help to work through their own problems.
Take a chance on me, is funny, heart warming and a down right sexy book. You will laugh out loud, have your heart touched and your blood pumping. Susan Donovan is an auto-buy for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 27, 2005
as a avid romance reader, plus a huge animal person, I was eager to try this book out. While I'm not as big a fan on comptemporary romance-I was pleased with this exceptionally fun, and surprisingly erotic, book.

The heroine, Emma, is a animal behaviorist. With my background in animal welfare, I thought her character was portrayed accurately but not so much so that it would be boring to the novice. Thomas, the hero, was a great,hunky, morose character that was a bit uptight and needed the love of a family and good woman more than he realized. I was pleased with the fact that the characters were more mature than most 20 something romance characters-AND they were portayed as still wanting to get-it-on!

The sex scenes are VERY hot, but also downright funny-the dialog is great, and the various animals, especially Hairy, steal the show. If you enjoy funny and spicy contemporary romance with real, working class characters (no millionares here), then I think you'll enjoy this book-4.5 stars!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2004
I absolutely love this book - it's funny, romantic, and hot! I believe this is Susan Donovan's second book and I intend to purchase everything she writes. I enjoyed this book so much that I have been reading it out loud to my husband and he's been enjoying it, too.
Donovan writes her characters with depth, compassion, and humor, from Hairy to Thomas, Emma, Leelee, Beck, and even Aaron. The misunderstandings are comical yet poignant, with well-written resolutions.
I was so drawn to Thomas and Emma, the protagonists, who had been 'damaged' by those who were supposed to love them, with the result that it made them reluctant to trust that they could love or be loved. However, their mutual attraction was so magnetic that they kept getting closer and closer. When Thomas and Emma finally get together, Donovan writes scenes that are lusty, bawdily humorous, and, yet, very tender.
This book is delicious, funny, and heart-tugging. I recommend it to anyone who loves spicy, funny romance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 17, 2003
What can I say? The author of "Knock Me Off My Feet" has done it again. If I could rate it six stars, I would.
Susan Donovan is single-handedly redefining the contemporary romance genre with her dynamic and innovative writing. Her books are unforgettable. If you're not a fan, you should be. If you haven't read "Take a Chance on Me", you are doing yourself great disservice. Susan Donovan sets the standard by which all other contemporary romance authors are judged.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book was wonderful. It lived up to the standards set by Susan Donovan in Knock Me Off My Feet.
Thomas Tobin was an undercover killer for hire working for the Maryland State Police. He comes across the body of Scott Slick, and next to the body is little Hairy, a Chinese crested, a very tiny dog. So starts the hilarity that is Take A chance on Me.
Hairy is a mess, so Thomas (not Tom!) takes him to animal behaviorist Emma Jenkins. They immediately connect, but both are busy finding reasons why they shouldn't take a chance on each other. Emma has just gotten divorced from her louse of an ex husband Aaron, who is also an animal behaviorist. She also has taken in her deceased best friend's daughter LeeLee, a genius who is busy adjusting to Emma, her new life in Maryland, and her lack of a mother. Thomas sees his life as unfit to be with any woman, and he got burned very badly by his previous girlfriend. His inability to get past this, and Emma's busy schedule lead to a very mixed up courtship.
When Thomas hires Emma to help figure out why Hairy is acting so strangely, things really begin heating up between them. The secondary characters of Hairy (who has his own thoughts in the book, which is very cute and funny and not over used by the author), LeeLee and Emma's father Beck add a lot of good laughs and tender moments to the book. The romance between Thomas and Emma sizzles and the disco dancing is one of the best scenes in the book.
If you enjoyed Susan Donovan's previous book, you will love Take A Chance on me. If you are new to Susan Donovan, you will love Take A Chance on me. Her combination of romance, sensuality, hilarity, and plain fun make for a great read. A definite keeper, and the excerpt of her next book, Public Displays of Affection, also sounds equally promising.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Take a Chance on Me" by Susan Donovan is actually the story of three individuals and one dog who open their hearts and find the courage to risk falling in love again. It primarily features Emma Jenkins - an animal behavorist, and Thomas Tobin - (a.k.a. "RobotBoy")an attorney with the Baltimore County task force. Emma has divorced her husband, who is also an animal behaviorist - after his grambling and womanizing have gone on too long. Thomas has been in an emotional vacuum since finding out that he is sterile and getting dumped.
When a bookie, who is one of Thomas's main informants, is bashed in with a blender, Thomas adopts his murdered snitch's dog "Hairy." He is a Chinese Crested (thank goodness they show his picture on the back cover!) and he is terrified. And yes, Hairy DOES steal the show in this book!
Likewise, Emma has adopted her best friend's daughter - LeeLee since her mother died in a car accident the previous year. LeeLee and Hairy are brilliant and in many ways - this is their story as well. For LeeLee and Hairy must learn to let go of their past lives and trust others enough to love them too.
Although I agree that it would have been wiser to not reveal the murderer so soon; this was still a very good book. There were perhaps a few too many steamy scenes and "RobotBoy" started to get on my nerves toward the end - but the ending really was pretty neat...especially the last sentence.
I truly believe that Susan Donovan will only get better....
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