Blindsided by Karis Walsh is a great place to start if you’ve never read a book by her before. Cara Bradley is the on air talent for a little show on public access television that spotlights people and organizations doing charitable works, or helping out others. Once such spotlight is of Lenae McIntyre and her guide dog training facility, which could definitely use the infusion of donations that Cara’s program usually brings. Lenae left her high speed job as a network newswriter after a bad personal experience leaves her jaded and mistrustful. And now she works to provide other sight-impaired people the same freedom she found when she got her guide dog, Baxter. Lenae’s distrust and Cara’s insecurity and cynicism make sparks fly at their first meeting and interview. It’s only some meddling by Cara’s family that brings them into contact again, and they each get a chance to see beyond the surface to the person beneath. To move forward and have a chance for happiness, they both need to not only trust the other, but most importantly learn to trust themselves. But can they open up before it’s too late?
Cara Bradford comes from an acting family. She’s used to being in front of the camera; it seems her whole life has been acted out for an adoring audience. But her life was different once the cameras stopped; her parents coolly driven for more achievements and more roles, and withholding affection from Cara and her brother unless they succeeded as well. The hypocrisy and shallowness of not only her parents, but of all of the women who profess to be interested in her, make Cara wonder if she’s just as shallow once the camera stops recording her. It creates a lot of insecurity for her, as she wonders if she’s even real off-camera, and makes her cynical about people, even as she strives to highlight the good works some people do.
Lenae McIntyre has been blind since birth. Her mother was equally driven to teach Lenae how to be independent. Lenae’s confidence in her abilities and her skill in judging others takes a big hit while working as a newswriter. She decides that Baxter, her recently acquired guide dog, has way better judgment about people. But it’s the newfound freedom that Baxter gives her that inspires Lenae to change careers and try to help others find the same independence and freedom that she’s found with Baxter. When Cara shows up, it’s like Lenae’s old world is coming back to haunt her. She knows how vain and shallow the on-air talent can be, and that’s exactly what she expects from Cara. A chance remark from Cara seems to support her judgment, and they get off on the wrong foot. But Baxter seems to love Cara, and that encourages Lenae to give her another chance.
Baxter and Pickwick both get shout outs here. Baxter is Lenae’s fully trained companion, and Pickwick is one of the potential guide dog puppies that Lenae is looking for volunteers to raise and train for their first year. Through some meddling by Cara’s father, and another heated confrontation between Lenae and Cara, Cara becomes Pickwick’s puppy walker; that is, the volunteer who takes Pickwick for the first year of training and socialization.
The Writing Style
This book was well-written, with an easy pace, and a storyline that kept pages turning.
I liked that both these women were so closed off to everyone around them, but something about the other just got under their skin. I also liked that Lenae was comfortable with herself and with her blindness. It wasn’t so much a disability for her as it was a challenge. The dogs were wonderful in the story, of course. And watching Cara and Lenae open up to each other was sweet and romantic, and included some hot sex. (Because of course that’s gotta be a pro.)
There is a bit of manufactured drama at the end, and it’s one of those, just talk to each other already, damnit, so you can get on with the HEA.
This is definitely a good read, and it’s a good introduction to Karis Walsh and her books. The romance is good, the sex is hot, the dogs are endearing, and you finish the book feeling good. Why wouldn’t you want all that?
Excerpt from Blindsided by Karis Walsh
Lenae stood when she heard the short training session drawing to a close. Cara, unlike the future owners Lenae trained, wouldn’t experience the same depth of partnership Lenae had found with Baxter. The demonstration walk would be too short, and Cara might not be able to – or need to – deal with the struggle to let go. But maybe she would be able to understand a little of what Lenae experienced every day. The limitations, the freedoms provided by a guide dog, the indescribable bond between two beings. And then, maybe she would be able to convey the experience to her viewers.
“Find Cara,” she said to Baxter, and he led her a few yards forward and stopped. She put out her hand and brushed the sleeve of Cara’s shirt before she felt Cara’s hand close over hers. The same sense of connection Lenae had felt before. Instead of touch being a necessary – and unwanted – experience for her, the feeling of anchoring herself to Cara was similar to what Lenae felt when she petted Baxter. A physical attraction, especially to someone she was unable to read and with whom she had little in common, was at best a distraction from her goals and at worst a sure way to get hurt. She let go of Cara’s hand.
“Once you have Toby in the harness, you’ll ask him to find the Starbucks. Then say forward and he’ll take you there.”
“Wow, it’s as if you trained him specifically for me. I was running late and missed my morning caffeine fix today.” Cara laughed again, and this time Lenae let herself smile in response.
“It does seem to be one of the most popular destinations here in the Northwest. We train all our dogs to detect the scent of roasting coffee beans.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781626390782
- Publisher: Bold Strokes Books