Stepdog by Nicole Galland – Review

August 19, 2015 Reviews 10 ★★★

Stepdog by Nicole Galland – ReviewStepdog by Nicole Galland
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on 8/4/15
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: Adult (Though sex is pretty much only mentioned and not shown)
My rating:
3 Stars

What's the difference between puppy love and dogged devotion?

When Sara Renault fired Rory O'Connor from his part-time job at a Boston art museum, and in response, Rory—Irishman, actor, musician, reformed party-boy— impulsively leaned over and kissed her . . . she kissed him back. Now, as Rory's visa runs out on the cusp of his big Hollywood break, Sara insists that he marry her to get a green card. In a matter of weeks they've gone from being friendly work colleagues to a live-in couple, and it's all grand . . . except for Cody, Sara's beloved dog from her troubled previous relationship. Sara's overattachment to her dog is the only thing she and Rory fight about.

When Rory scores both his green card and the lead role in an upcoming TV pilot, he and Sara (and Cody) prepare to move to Los Angeles. But just before their departure, Cody is kidnapped—and it is entirely Rory's fault. Desperate to get back into Sara's good graces, Rory tracks Cody and the sociopathic dognapper to North Carolina. Can Rory rescue Cody and convince Sara that they belong together—with Cody—as a family? First they'll need to survive a madcap adventure that takes them through the heart of America.


My Take

Stepdog is a cute, fun summer read with a unique Irish protagonist. The book is told from Rory’s POV. He is an Irish immigrant who has the chance at stardom in an American television show, but he has to get his green card first. He had plans to marry his cousin’s widow, but when he tells his ex-boss, who he’s gone on one date with, she convinces him to marry her instead. They just have to prove that they’re happily married – which they almost would be. If it weren’t for the dog.


  • The fake marriage. I loved the idea of the fake marriage and thought that this was an interesting twist on the couple who has no interest in each other and gets married. In this case, Rory and Sara do really like each other – and they’re falling for each other before they ever end up getting married. But this actually adds complication to the story rather than making it simpler. Marrying a person you just started a relationship with and then trying to work through living together and everything so soon after getting together would be really tough. Rory and Sara vow to keep the marriage “fake,” but it starts to feel real to both of them soon enough – maybe too soon. I thought that the dynamics of this was really interesting.
  • Cody. Cody the dog was utterly adorable! I’m a dog lover myself (which is why I picked this book up) and pretty much every scene with Cody in it melted my heart – if only my dogs were so utterly well-behaved!!
  • The kidnapping. I actually didn’t reread the synopsis right before reading the book, so I had forgotten about the fact that there was a kidnapping involved. It came as a complete surprise to me, and I was really shocked at the circumstances. The book took a kind of strange turn at that point, and I have to confess that at first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. But the whole kidnapping plot (especially the second half of it) was actually the most entertaining part of the book!

The negatives:

  • Complaining. Sometimes Rory’s complaints about the dog started to wear on my nerves a little bit. I mean I understand that being a dog owner is difficult and that it wasn’t something he’d really signed on for, and there were definitely times when Sara’s attitude and behavior when it came to Cody were frustrating – so Rory’s aggravation in those moments was understandable. But even when Cody was doing nothing but being cute and sweet (admittedly from Rory’s perspective), he still complained about him. And then there were times that he got aggravated at the dog for just looking at him a lot – I wanted to tell him to get over it!
  • Maybe not my style? I picked this book up because of the dog angle, but maybe I should have realized that this book just wasn’t exactly my style – it’s still kind of romcom with a male MC. I just didn’t find Rory as funny and charming as I think I was supposed to. I certainly didn’t dislike him – and if I’d met him in real life I’d probably be charmed to the nth degree – but I just didn’t connect with him all that much as the MC until the last quarter or so of the book (when the kidnapping stuff all got really underway). Oh, and then there was a whole tangent during the kidnapping where Sara’s cousin lectured Rory (and us) on how the Civil War wasn’t about slavery – what was that? Rory was rolling his eyes at it and wondering why he had to sit and listen to it, and so was I!

So, this book was cute and fun – especially the second half. If you like dogs and are a reader of romcom or chick lit, I’d definitely give this book a read. For me, it was 3/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

About the Author

Nicole-Galland-ap1NICOLE GALLAND is the author of five previous novels: The Fool’s Tale, Revenge of the Rose, Crossed, I, Iago and Godiva. A native of Martha’s Vineyard, she graduated from Harvard University and studied Dramatic Literature at UC Berkeley, then divided her time between California and New York City for many years, before returning to the Vineyard to stay (except for when she’s somewhere else, like Boston). She is the co-founder of Shakespeare for the Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse, and writes a cheeky etiquette column for the Martha’s Vineyard Times. She is married to actor Billy Meleady and owns Leuco, a dog of splendid qualities.

Author Links:
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10 Responses to “Stepdog by Nicole Galland – Review”

  1. Naomi @ Naomi’s Reading Palace

    At least you gave it a try! I tend to read the blurb’s get the books and they sit there for ages… so when I pick it up, I don’t re-read the blurb, and then I quite often get a surprise! lol
    Sounds like a good concept. I like how Rory and Sara like each other, and glad Cody gave the book some spice! Too much complaining would drive me mad too.
    Great review girl!

    Naomi @ Naomi’s Reading Palace

    Naomi @ Naomi’s Reading Palace recently posted: Hard to Fight by Bella Jewel ~ Review & Swoon Thursday
    • Nicole

      Yes – that happens to me too. I’m always bllindsided by things and then I go and read the blurb and think, “Oh, it said it right there.” I kind of think it’s more fun that way sometimes though!

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