cover image Ever After

Ever After

Rachel Lacey. Grand Central/Forever, $5.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-1-4555-8215-0

Lacey’s Love to the Rescue contemporary series keeps getting better and better. This delectable third installment (after For Keeps) starts with the most unlikely of meet cutes. Olivia Bennett, an animal activist, blogger, and waitress, gets slightly tipsy at a birthday celebration and decides to vandalize a chicken processing plant in Dogwood, N.C. She’s caught red-handed, and sheriff’s deputy Pete Sampson books her. Once she’s released, he keeps an eye on her, wondering whether she might also be behind several similar recent crimes. But as he gets to know Olivia, he realizes that she’s become the unwitting scapegoat of powerful people trying to influence the future of Dogwood. As he shifts from suspecting her to protecting her, he finds it harder and harder to keep a professional distance. Olivia isn’t shy in pursuing Pete, and he gradually comes to enjoy her fondness for taming wild kittens and meditating. The book explores the plight of animals in shelters and factory farms without ever veering into preachiness, and Olivia’s foster dogs, her fluffy kitten, and Pete’s dog provide delightful diversions while the humans build their own forever home. Agent: Sarah Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (Sept.)