Spoiler Alert: The ending is mentioned in, somewhat, detail as it greatly affects the tone of the review.
Okay, peeps, this is going to be a rather rambly and mushy gushy because… I haven’t loved a story quite this much in some time. As soon as I read the blurb I knew I needed to read Joint Custody. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bit over the top/ridiculous with my reads and a romance story narrated BY A PUPPY is basically everything I never knew I needed in life.
But I am going to start with a pretty familiar disclaimer from me, but for a very different reason. A lot of times I’ll say that I am struggling to write a review because I don’t want to give away too much of the plot and ruin the story for you all. This is mostly my norm when it comes to romantic suspense or a good ole PNR where there is a hefty secondary suspense line. Unfortunately for me, it’s for a pretty sad reason this time. Joint Custody is possibly one of the best books I’ve read this year… but this is not a romance, folks. The overwhelming sadness I had when I reached “The End” and the people I’ve been rooting for throughout the story DID NOT get together… well it was immense.
So I am walking a pretty precarious line here because the authors and the take on this book are FABULOUS. The craft, storytelling, and uniqueness of having the narrator be an unreliable puppy are out of this world.
We start out with our precocious little narrator, Gatz, eating 2 lbs of chocolate (in his defense, he thought it was 1 lb because… puppy logic) in an effort to get sick enough to need an ER trip and bring his estranged owners, The Man and The Woman back together. As we are sitting in the animal hospital alongside Gatz and his humans, we are taken back through the timeline of when The Man and The Woman met and fell in love and their three years together… along with their subsequent breakup and agreement to share joint custody of Gatz.
This is where his little trick should have worked and The Man and The Woman would reconcile, right? Yeah, this is where my HEA loving heart kind of plummeted to the ground. They, in fact, do not. Now, I want to be VERY clear that the ending is lovely and happy, but it isn’t the happily ever after that I signed up for when cracking open what I thought was a romance.
Joint Custody would make an AMAZING book club book and is the warm, wholesome palate cleanser we all need in this world, but please don’t expect the typical romance ending because, while there is a satisfying end and we definitely have closure from all parties with one going on to have an HEA and the promise of a second for the other, The Man and The Woman do not, in fact, get back together. And my biggest question of what happens to Gatz (I mean, he is only 3 years old, are they really going to share joint custody of him for a decade or more?) isn’t answered. But in the end Gatz is content and so are the leading characters.
And as long as you don’t expect the normal romance HEA, you will be far more content than me.