Vicky had fled to New York, escaping a harrowing moment in her teenage years, and is hiding with her younger sister, under false identities and documents. She impersonates as a dog whisperer in a fair as a favor to a friend, and ends up with Bernadette Locke as her stalker. This old lady was relentless in pursuing Vicky to act as her little dog’s interpreter, until Vicky took pity on the lady who lived alone and started to visit with her and act as “dog whisperer”. She used the opportunities to help the lady since she lived in shabby conditions and seemed to have been abandoned by her only son.
When the old lady is admitted to the hospital, Vicky smuggles the little dog to visit with her. In one of those instances, the son, Henry Locke, happened to visit too, and accuses her of trying to impress and gain favor from the lady, as if she wants money from her. Vicky instantly falls into hate with this guy, who is one of those “filthy-rich entitled men” whom she hates due to her past traumatic experience.
When the lady dies and leaves the control of the Locke Industries to Smuckers, via Vicky’s guardianship, Vicky is forced to join the Board of Trustees of the empire. Vicky is at times intimidated and other times irritated by the behavior of the board members, especially Brett, who is openly hostile to Vicky. One crazy scene I loved was when Vicky had a throne made for Smuckers, very detailed and enameled in pink, and brings it to the board room, so Smuckers has a place to sit. She has mimes bring the throne to the board room and makes a ceremony of rearranging chairs and installing Smuckers at the head of the table. Priceless!!
Vicky sometimes cowers and other times gets aggravated and uses her “dog whisperer” voice to issue commands that are supposedly coming from Smuckers. She uses this ploy to get out of sticky situations where the board members try to get advantage. Little by little Henry gets to know her and starts to discover that she is genuine. Her quirky personality intrigues him and they start to work as a team. Vicky sometimes lets herself be charmed by Henry and other times gets aggravated by his entitled behavior such that she nicknames him Henry Kool-aid Locke. Over time, Vicky realizes that Henry’s passion is to construct buildings with heart. She realizes he’s not just a playboy or entitled businessman, but an architect with vision who had lived a sheltered life. When he visits her work-space, he’s fascinated with all the characters who work there and their different expressions of art and crafts.
This was a fun book to read. I loved how the author developed the love story and slowly opened up tidbits on Henry’s childhood so we can understand the strange relation he had with his mother. We also learn a little about Vicky’s past, her real name and her family situation, but the whole package comes clear late in the book. As compared with other books, this author did a stellar work in developing the back stories in a manner that I never lacked knowledge or was confused by the development of the plot. This book never lagged, never bored, had a great pace and great characters. Some associates from Vicky’s work environment provided great local color. It was interesting, fun, and Smuckers was a little darling who only lived for snacks and cuddles.